Beyond the Cockpit · Amy Henderson · Thursday October 18, 2012
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is immersed in a tight championship battle, with James Buesher and Ty Dillon at the forefront, each battling for his first series title. Buescher knows how intense the heat of the battle is; he was a contender in 2011 as well, finishing third—could that, along with his four wins, give him the edge this year? Buescher was in Charlotte last weekend, racing in the Nationwide Series, and he took some time to sit and chat with our Amy Henderson to discuss his beginnings as a hobby racer, growing up on the track, racing smart in the championship hunt…and much more.
Amy Henderson, Frontstretch.com: Let’s start with talking a little bit about your background. You’re from Texas, and for a lot of people, Texas isn’t really the first place they think of when they think about racing. When did you get started racing?
James Buescher: I started at Texas Motor Speedway in a driving school for a Bandolero cars—the same cars they’re about to race in the Better Half Dash. I did the driving school and enjoyed it. I was fortunate enough to get a Bandolero a few weeks later and it started out as just kind of a hobby. I’m a first generation driver, so it’s not like it was something my dad was doing or anything. My dad got a Legends car at the same time I got the Bandolero, and it was something we could do together to just have fun on the weekends. We had raced motocross before that a little bit, but it was just something fun to do, and basically a new hobby. It just sort of snowballed when we started being successful and growing on itself. I would say that I was somewhere around 15 or 16 when I decided it was something I wanted to pursue as a career and started climbing up the ladder, I’d say.
Henderson: You started racing ARCA at age seventeen and won your first race, and a couple more, and then you had kind of a drought in 2010 and 2011…and this year, you’ve won five races in two NASCAR series. During that time when you weren’t winning, you seemed to mature a lot as a driver, and learned a lot on the racetrack. Can you talk a little about that process?
Buescher: In 2005, I was racing Legends cars, and I won something like 25 races that year, and then I moved up to late models in 2006 and won one race, and it was kind of like a whole different deal, hard to get used to. Then in 2007, I ran my first ARCA race, and that was the only thing I won until 2009 when I won another ARCA race. To go from winning every weekend to winning once a year was hard to adjust to, but like you said, I feel like I have matured on the racetrack these last couple of years. We went winless in ’08, won two races in ’09, and then went winless in 2010 and 2011, even though we almost won the championship last year. We finished third in points and had a shot at the title, but I hadn’t won a race yet (in NASCAR) until Daytona this year.
To win five races this year in NASCAR, I feel like we can win a couple more to end the season even though there are only a few more left. It’s cool to finally see it come together. It’s been a building process, starting with Turner Motorsports when it was a new team, and building it with Steve Turner and Michael Shelton and everybody that’s been here from the start. There’s not very many people who work for Turner Motorsports now that were there when we first decided to go Truck racing. There’s been a lot of turnover and of putting the right people in the right places, and generations of racecars. It’s just been a building process, and it’s nice to see it all finally pay off.
Henderson:: What was a harder transition, Legends cars into late models, or late models into the Truck Series?
Buescher: I would say into NASCAR was a harder transition than Legends into late models. Late models into ARCA wasn’t even a bad transition. But the transition into NASCAR, I actually came into the Nationwide Series before I came into the Truck Series, and then I ran in the Truck Series in the No. 10 truck for a year. We had some older equipment, we didn’t have an engineering department or anything. The way we ran the 10 truck was nothing compared to the dedication and the people that we have at Turner Motorsports, and that can take a toll on you. Running the ARCA races in 2009 along with the truck races, I won to or three races and that just kind of reassures you that you know what you’re doing, and you can’t put all the blame on yourself. I’m not saying you blame everyone else, but you know that you know what you’re doing, and you don’t want to question yourself, because you are going to Victory Lane in other series.
Henderson:: What’s the best piece of advice you’ve gotten along the way and who gave it to you?
Buescher: Wow. I don’t know I can’t think of anything when somebody gives you advice. When I give advice, I just tell them to do what you want to do and don’t let anybody tell you you can’t. If there’s something you want to do, follow your dreams and work hard at it and you can accomplish anything you want.
Henderson:: Speaking of advice, your cousin Chris is running in ARCA this year and doing really well. Have you had a chance to work with him at all.
Buescher: Well, we stared racing at the same time. His first race was my first race at Texas Motor Speedway, and in the beginning, we kind of were racing together and working together end stuff. Than our last year in Legends cars, we kind of went in different directions with different teams and were kind of on different paths since then with different people helping us get to where we are. So, it’s pretty cool to see that we’ve both made it to where we are now from the same starting point but with two totally different paths. I talk to him every now and then and ask questions about how they’re doing. I wouldn’t say that I had anything to do with his success, because he’s been doing it on his own just like I did, just with different people around him and a different path.
Henderson:: Obviously, you’re in a really tight championship battle with Ty Dillon, which brings on a whole different kind of pressure, though you’ve got more experience than Ty does. Is that harder than trying to win races week to week, is it different?
Buescher: It’s only different in that…I mean, you’re out there trying to win races; that’s the best way to win a championship. But what’s different is when you’re putting yourself in position to win a race, you have to calculate the risks versus the rewards. Crashing trying to race for the lead and finishing 25th is not good when you’re racing for a championship. You still race as hard as you can, racing for wins. The only thing is, if you’re in a sticky situation, you think twice about it. You’re just more cautious….
Henderson:: IF you won the championship, how would you celebrate?
Buescher: I don’t know. I’m not the kind of guy that throws a big party. We expect to win, so it’s not something that we’ll be shocked about if we do win it, because we’ve put in the work and the time, and we feel like we deserve it if we do get it. So it wouldn’t be some kind of surprise part or anything. I guess the best way to celebrate is to figure out what we’re doing next season and look ahead to 2013.
Henderson:: Do you have any plans for 2013 yet?
Buescher: It changes daily. I hate Silly Season!
Henderson:: What about some of your long-term goals. You’ve been in the Truck Series for four years and learned a lot. Is that something where you’d like to do the same thing in the Nationwide Series for a couple of years, and move up slowly, or would you rather go straight to the top?
Buescher: I’m going to move up when the opportunities present themselves. I’d like to move up to the Nationwide Series next year. I feel like I’ve done a lot in the Truck Series and especially this year. I feel like the next step is the Nationwide Series, but my ultimate goal is to make it into the Cup Series and be able to contend for championships and win one someday. If it takes me five years to get there, that’s fine. If I get there in two years, that’s even better, but I don’t want to take any wrong deals. I want to make sure that whatever I do, I do it right. I’ve been with some teams and put myself in cars that weren’t right and had to recover from it a couple of times in my career, so I’m pretty careful about the decisions I make and I weigh a lot of the risks to be sure.
Henderson:: You’ve really grown up in racing the last few years, like we talked about, you started in ARCA at 17. You also got married this year—how has all that changed your outlook?
Buescher: It’s hard to say. There’s just a lot of different things, I’d say I’m pretty calm about a lot of things that a lot of people get worked up about. I just kind of let things happen; things happen the way they’re supposed to. I just never have any regrets. If we get caught up in a wreck, we were supposed to. You hate to see that happen, but you take the good and the bad.
Henderson:: A lot of fans get to see you on the track every week, but what’s fun for you away from the track?
Buescher: I like to spend time at home with my family and my wife. We have four dogs at home. They keep us busy for sure. It’s like having a bunch of kids running around. I like to stay low key and spend time with friends and family; I’m not a flashy guy…just do stuff around the house.
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