NASCAR Race Weekend Central

2012 NASCAR Driver Review: James Buescher


James Buescher

*2012 Ride:* No. 31 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet
*2012 Primary Sponsors:* AccuDoc Solutions, Great Clips
*2012 Owner:* Steve Turner
*2012 Crew Chief:* Michael Shelton

*Stats:* 22 Starts, 4 Wins, 10 Top 5s, 14 Top 10s, 1 DNF, 1st in Points.

*Best Finish:* 1st, four times. (Kansas; April – Kentucky; June – Chicago; July – Kentucky; September).

*Average Finish:* 8.6.

*2012 Team Ranking: 1st* of 3. Buescher was the class of the Turner Motorsports stable, and the series for that matter. Teammate Nelson Piquet, Jr. showed flashes of talent as he continued his transition to NASCAR from F1 with victories at Michigan and Las Vegas. Miguel Paludo, however, seemed to be a middling driver who also tended to have bad luck on his side.

*High Point:* Wins are always good… and a series-leading four of them makes for an impressive year. The high point of Buescher’s season might just be the Talladega race where he came home third. How can a third-place finish be better than a win? When it turns into an overall points lead. With the superspeedway considered to be the proverbial wild-card in the latter part of the season, any finish in the top five is like drawing an ace (depending on the game being played, of course). The week following Talladega, Buescher finished sixth at Martinsville and solidified himself as the driver to beat for the big trophy.

*Low Point:* A late season swoon that nearly proved to be his championship undoing. Buescher was 11th at Texas, then 17th at Phoenix due to a cut tire and finished off the year with a lackluster 13th at Homestead. That opened the door for Timothy Peters and Ty Dillon to steal the hardware; if not for a late-race dive by Kyle Larson, Dillon might have done exactly that.

*Summary:* Buescher finished the 2011 season third in the overall points, emerging as a strong title contender to start the season. The expectations on the young driver to take the final step were there, have been ever since he was a fresh-faced 18-year-old and in 2012, he finally lived up to them. That he realized his promise is outstanding, a sign of good things to come as the lead driver within Turner Motorsports.

Beuscher turned 22 during the 2012 season and fits in well with the upswing of talented young drivers emerging in the NASCAR ranks. It shouldn’t be too long until he moves into a full-time Nationwide spot. He raced in 20 of the Nationwide events last year; though he won the opener at Daytona, his average finish of 13.4 shows he still needs to hone his skills there. But after his performance in the trucks there’s little doubt that he can’t do just that.

*Off-Track News:* Having gotten married last offseason, this one looks to be of a quieter ilk. In fact, there seems to be little in the way of news as both his and Turner’s sites have made no significant updates since Homestead.

*2013 Outlook:* For much of the offseason Buescher’s status had been up in the air. However, with a deal struck with Rheem (the heating and cooling company) and Turner Motorsports, he is now set to defend his title for the 2013 year. Buescher is attempting to become the first driver to repeat in the Truck Series division, and considering the team remains intact he’ll be an early favorite to do so. For a young driver seeking success and to move up the NASCAR ladder, this move seems smart and steady and would also seem to signal a move up to Nationwide in 2014. Buescher will once again drive a limited schedule there, just enough to dabble without distracting from his full-time Truck Series competition.

*2012 Grade: A+.* It’s hard to give Buescher any grade other than an A+. He led the series with four wins, had an average starting spot of 8.8 and an average finish of 8.6. He was consistent and finished in the top 10 in 64 percent of the races. In addition, he took the expectations of being a championship contender and fulfilled them. Congratulations to the champ.

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