ELKHART LAKE, Wisc. — When the NASCAR Cup Series left Nashville Superspeedway last weekend, it was assumed that Chris Buescher would arrive at Road America without his crew chief, Scott Graves.
It’s usually a safe bet this year when a Cup car has a wheel go astray that the car’s crew chief will be suspended for four races.
But with RFK Racing appealing its penalty, Buescher’s No. 17 team arrived at the 4.048-mile road course at full strength for at least one more week. With how the team performed on its last visit to a road course, finishing second at Sonoma Raceway, Buescher will take any advantage.
“We are happy to have everybody here for this weekend,” Buescher said Saturday (July 2). “Obviously, Sonoma showed a ton of speed, we’re off to a really good start here.”
Buescher made his comments to the media after he qualified seventh for Sunday’s race at Road America and was sixth fastest in his 20-minute practice session.
If Buescher is able to improve his Sonoma result by one spot Sunday, he’ll earn his second career Cup Series win. The first came in 2016 at Pocono Raceway.
“We have speed, so happy to have everybody here and be kind of business as usual, feel like it’s a really good opportunity for us,” Buescher said. “So we’re working hard to figure Road America out.”
Just how much is applicable from the Sonoma race to the road course circuit located in the middle of Wisconsin farm country?
“It’s not like a Watkins Glen where you have fresh asphalt, high speeds,” Buescher noted. “You have high speeds, but very slow corners here. The kink, may (have) a little similarity to the turn 10 at Sonoma. So lot of things are going to carry over, (tire) fall off here is going to be huge. We’re already seeing that in just a couple of laps of practice. So we definitely know that there’s a lot of things that are that are coming from Sonoma that we’re applying pretty directly here. So that’s another added bonus.”
Sunday’s race marks a stretch on the schedule that will see the Cup Series going from Road America to the new superspeedway version of Atlanta Motor Speedway, followed by visits to New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Pocono Raceway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.
Given the No. 17 team’s strength at Sonoma, is the presence of Graves at the track thanks to RFK’s appeal more vital than it would be at later races?
“I would say here over Atlanta, yeah,” Buescher said. “Now you get past Atlanta, I’d say you’re starting to get into a lot of the equal ones, equal weight. Atlanta right now is kind of an unknown, kind of a superspeedway, kind of survival race. In other ways, it’s one that you’re gonna need a decent amount of luck. So yeah, I think it is gonna be important this week to have everybody in their places we can keep everything running smooth.”
About the author
Daniel McFadin is a 7-year veteran of the NASCAR media corp. He wrote for NBC Sports from 2015 to October 2020. He's currently a freelancer and lead reporter and editor for Frontstretch. He is also host of the NASCAR show "Dropping the Hammer with Daniel McFadin" on YouTube and in podcast form.
You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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