Just when you think you’ve seen it all, rain, tornado warnings and a first-time winner jump to the scene at Pocono Raceway.
Chris Buescher, who stayed out on the racetrack while the leaders came to pit road with 34 laps to go, stole a shocking victory after the race was officially called for bad weather. The win is the first for rookie Buescher and the second for the small Front Row Motorsports team.
“This is going to change our whole year, right here,” Buescher said in disbelief. “This is the strangest circumstances, by far! We’ll take them any way we can get them this is a pretty awesome situation to be in. This is awesome.”
Sitting six points behind 30th place in points, Buescher will have to reach that 30th spot in order to be Chase eligible per the rulebook. The Texan says he is ready for the challenge.
“We should be really close [to top 30] at this point,” he said. “We’re definitely going to have to work hard for it. We have to get up there in points. We’ve been getting a lot of momentum here so we’re rolling in the right direction.”
Also joining in on the underdog stories was Regan Smith, who played an identical strategy move that won Buescher the race, to finish third for Tommy Baldwin Racing.
“We’re building a small team and trying to make that next step,” Smith said, who grabs his second top 10 of 2016. “That next step for us is getting higher up on the engineering support. If this can perhaps bring in a company that can take us to that next level, then it’ll only increase our performance.”
In a race that was postponed to Monday morning, the 400-miler saw numerous battles for the lead mixed with the constant pressure of battling the weather. With pit strategy a-plenty, there weren’t many drivers who sat completely out of the picture.
For pole-sitter Martin Truex, Jr., however, trouble found him early as he suffered an inner-valve stem issue on Lap 19. With two more issues throughout the race, Truex retired after 82 laps.
Joining the list of sad faces was Joey Logano and Chase Elliott, two favorites who crashed together off Turn 2 on Lap 106. Leading the most laps in the June event, Elliott finished 33rd while Logano came home 37th.
As teammate Logano crashed out, Brad Keselowski found a positive out of the weather, as he finished second behind Buescher. Kevin Harvick arguably had the quickest car of the day and finished fourth while Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Tony Stewart completed the top 5.
Kyle Larson, who had multiple battles with fellow 2014 Sprint Cup Series rookie Austin Dillon, led 37 laps before finishing sixth while Denny Hamlin was the top Toyota driver in the seventh position.
Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch completed the top 10.