LONG POND, Pa.—Chris Buescher emerged from the fog to become a surprising winner in yesterday’s shortened Sprint Cup race at Pocono Raceway.
He is now on the verge of being in the mix for NASCAR’s championship after not finishing better than 14th all season before yesterday.
“The plan was to always make the Chase,” Buescher said. “We’re that much closer now.”
He’s not there yet. Buescher is six points behind David Ragan for 30th to reach the cutoff needed to become eligible for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.
Buescher, who drives for underfunded Front Row Motorsports, was the beneficiary on a rare Monday race postponed a day by rain. With nasty weather punishing the track, NASCAR called the red flag with 22 laps left and parked the cars on pit road.
He was declared the winner after about an 80-minute delay. He was doused with beer and water in a makeshift victory lane celebration inside a garage stall, his Ford covered on rainy pit road instead of bathed in confetti.
Brad Keselowski was second, followed by Regan Smith, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart. Jeff Gordon finished 27th driving for the injured Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Buescher won twice last season in the second-tier Xfinity Series and won the series championship.
He finished 30th or worse 10 times this season. Ragan had Front Row’s only victory 118 races ago in fall 2013 at Talladega.
Veteran crew chief Bob Osborne gambled with the decision to keep Buescher on the track while others made pit stops with 28 laps left. After the cars were stopped with him in front, they just had to hope the rain and fog would not abate.
“I’m trying to remember every rain dance I’ve ever learned,” he said in the car.
Buescher is now on the brink of becoming the first Chase bracket buster. Led by four-time winners Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski, there are 11 slots seemingly set for race winners, and Buescher would make 12.
Jamie McMurray, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon, Ryan Newman, and Kyle Larson are among the four winless drivers battling for the final four spots.