This year Driver Diary contributor Rick Crawford will take on the role of mentor to his new teammate, 18-year-old James Buescher (pronounced Busher) who takes over the wheel of the No. 10 MaxxForce Diesel by International Ford F-150. Rick thought it might be interesting for his fans to get a different perspective and hear about the Camping World Truck Series from the point of view of his young protege for 2009. We welcome James as our new Driver Diary contributor and we hope our readers enjoy getting to know this very talented newcomer.
I guess the best way to start this off is to tell you a little bit about myself and my background and how I got here. I started when I was 12 years old, racing Bandolero cars in Texas at Lil’ Texas Motor Speedway. I started out doing it for fun. I don’t have any racing background in my family. We got a Bandolero and started going to the racetrack and racing it. I started getting better at it and won a national championship in 2004 in the Bandolero, so then we decided to move up to the Legends series after winning that championship. We went Legend car racing in 2005 and won a lot of races and a national title in there, the Legends Young Lions National Championship, and finished second in the national points in the series that year. My title came by winning a national event race.
After that, I got an opportunity to go late model racing for Turner Motorsports in 2006. We ran the ASA Late Model South Division and we won the Rookie of the Year and the championship. The team moved up with me to the Hooters Pro Cup Series in 2007. That year I raced the Hooters Pro Cup Series and also in the ARCA Re/Max Series and the Camping World East Series. I became the youngest winner in ARCA Series history that year when I won the first ARCA race I ran at Lakeland, Fla.
In 2008, I ran all three of those series again but I didn’t run a full schedule in anything. I also ran in six Nationwide Series races for Braun Racing. My best finish there was seventh and I sat on the pole at Memphis. I also sat on the pole at Talladega in an ARCA car last year. But I bet I surprised people when I won that Nationwide Series pole!
This year, I will be running full time in the Camping World Truck Series. That was all pretty last minute. In the beginning of January – I’m not even sure how we came in contact – we started talking with Crawford about possibly racing the [No.] 10 truck full time. I’m not sure how we initially came in contact with him, but it all worked out after we came up and met with him and got everything worked out pretty quick. We got approval from the people at International to run the MaxxForce by International F-150. Mr. Mitchell and Lisa and everyone in the Mitchell family thought it would be a good idea having a young rookie driver in the truck this year and it all worked out for me.
I think it will be a good thing having Rick [Crawford] as a teammate. He’s been in the series for 12 years now and has so much experience and so much knowledge. That can’t do anything but help me the way I see it. I’ll be making my fourth start when he’s making his 300th start so just being able to lean on him and ask him questions and get pointers from him, that will be such a big help both on and off the track. He’s also got the experience with the media and hospitality and all the things you have to do off the track as well as being able to go to him for help when I need it with the truck.
My goals for this year are to win some races. I don’t care if it’s one race or six races, but I definitely want to win some races. I’d also like to win at least one pole somewhere. Winning poles isn’t quite as big as winning races. No one really remembers who won the pole, but they remember who won the race. But I’d still like to win a pole. And I’d like to win Rookie of the Year. That’s my biggest goal. I definitely want to be the Rookie of the Year.
I’m in Daytona now because I’m running the ARCA race this weekend. We were in tech all day today but we finally get to get out on the track tomorrow. I’m looking forward to getting this offseason over with and getting back to racing. Finally!