Chris Buescher was in the top 16 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup

NASCAR Sprint Cup: 2016 Season Review Part 3

Tamhas Woods
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A major shock unfolds in Pocono as the NASCAR Sprint Cup takes an unpredictable turn.

24-year old rookie Chris Buescher only became eligible for NASCAR Sprint Cup points in 2016. Seldom breaching the top 20 before Pocono’s summer race, the young Texan had simply made up the numbers. That was until 1 August, when he rocked the world of motor sport by winning a red-flagged Pennsylvania 400.

Chris Buescher was in the top 16 of the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Chris Buescher was a shock inclusion in the top 16. Rob Street (CC BY-SA 4.0)

22nd place on the starting grid suggested Buescher would cause little trouble, with the foggy conditions expected to favour the more experienced drivers in the roster. Martin Truex Jr had, in particular, enjoyed a dominant weekend in practice and qualifying.

Truex’s fortunes were to quickly turn sour, as he suffered a tyre blowout which enabled Greg Biffle to dictate the early pace. The lead continuously changed hands throughout the first half, and a yellow flag on 85 laps made Joey Logano the half-time leader.

The second half was littered with cautions. While Buescher had enjoyed a strong race, he still trailed Austin Dillon and Casey Mears with 51 laps remaining. However, it was the wisdom of Front Row Racing’s crew chief, Bob Osbourne, which enabled the rookie to claim a famous win.

LONG POND, PA - JULY 29:  Chris Buescher, driver of the #34 Dockside Logistics Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 29, 2016 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
LONG POND, PA – JULY 29: Chris Buescher, driver of the #34 Dockside Logistics Ford, drives during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway on July 29, 2016 in Long Pond, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)

Boldly, and against all logic, he advised against pitting like late-stage leader Casey Mears, putting his faith in the increasingly dire weather conditions. The race was indeed red flagged and declared a victorious one for Buescher with 22 laps remaining, fully vindicating Osbourne’s decision.

Now in the playoffs, Buescher would never again hit the same heights – although a fifth place finish at a tough Bristol night race in a NASCAR Sprint Cup heartland served to further showcase his potential.

As a result of the “Poc-Shock”, fringe playoff contenders such as Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman failed to make the cut on this occasion. With the exception of the Pure Michigan 400 (won by Kyle Larson), the remaining races of the regular season were won by drivers already assured of a playoff berth.

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