NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2011 NASCAR Driver Review: James Buescher

James Buescher

2011 Ride: No. 31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet
2011 Primary Sponsors: Exide Batteries, WolfPack Rentals
2011 Owner: Steve Turner
2011 Crew Chief: Michael Shelton
2011 Truck Series Stats: 24 starts, 0 wins, 10 top fives, 19 top 10s, 4 poles, 1 DNF, third in points

High Point: Pick a race, almost any race. Despite missing the second event of the season, Buescher mounted an impressive 19 top-10 finishes in 24 starts and made a serious run at the championship. Going into the Homestead finale, the driver of the No. 31 Chevrolet found himself within 30 points of the leader and a longshot to take home the big trophy. As expected, it wasn’t meant to be for the 21-year-old, who tangled with Kevin Harvick a couple times and left himself to finish off the year third in points. But most drivers in the series would have loved to just have that chance.

Low Point: You have to look all the way back to February, a week after Daytona when 2011 was just getting started. Buescher, planning to run the full schedule in hopes of scoring a championship in his third full season, failed to qualify for the Lucas Oil 150 and found himself well out of the championship battle in 24th. At the time, any hope of a championship appeared to be snuffed out in the Turner Motorsports camp; and, looking back, who knows how things could have ended up if they made the field?

Summary: In what started off to be a disappointing season, Buescher and the No. 31 team really turned things around. With the exception of a 35th-place finish at Martinsville and a 21st-place in Las Vegas, the 21-year-old brought home finishes inside the top 20 and managed to mount a run at the championship. And while there were a couple times when he tangled with his fellow competitors, Buescher stayed out of the way and ran his own race each and every week, proving he has the potential to further his career in NASCAR.

Team Ranking: First of three. Armed with solid teammates like Ricky Carmichael and Blake Feese, Buescher still rose to the top. He finished higher in points, with more top fives and top 10s, while nearly adding a victory to his young career.

2012 Outlook: Though he has dabbled in the Nationwide Series, Buescher is set to be back behind the wheel of the No. 31 Chevrolet with a new teammate in Nelson Piquet Jr. In what will be his fourth full-time season in the Truck Series, the young driver looks to follow up on his successes in 2011 and hopes to visit victory lane along the way. In 72 career starts, despite 17 top fives and three poles (the latter of which all came in 2011) Buescher has yet to score a win in a Camping World Truck.

2011 Frontstretch Grade: A-

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