It was the never give up attitude that the James Buescher and his entire No.31 Great Clips team has adopted for the 2012 season, determining that they would never give up in any situation. Martinsville was one of those situations. Buescher remained poised and fought his team’s way back up to an unexpected top-10 finish. En route to the sixth-place finish, Buescher also captured the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) points lead with just three races to go in the 2012 season.
Buescher and the entire Turner Motorsports team rolled into short track that is nicknamed the “Paperclip” for the tracks similarities of long straightaways and tight turns. On the NCWTS second stop of the 2012 campaign they found themselves at Martinsville Speedway where Buescher posted a top-3 finish. Looking to repeat this effort, during the off-week, Buescher and the crew went to Motor Mile Speedway in Fairlawn VA to test out their Martinsville setup. Through the two practice sessions that the trucks would get, the Great Clips team worked extremely hard trying to give Buescher a balanced truck where he could cut through the tight corners. It was the last couple of laps in practice that the team finally found that balance, placing Buescher eighth in the final practice standings.
Battling a light drizzle during his qualifying lap, Buescher maintained his speed and qualified in the 10th spot for the Kroger 200. History of racing at the short .526-mile oval showed fierce battles where tempers could boil over. Buescher and the team had a plan to just keep their nose clean and race their own race. When the green flag flew over the 36-truck field, Buescher went to battle to get position on the low side of the race track. It wasn’t until lap 10, running in the ninth spot, Buescher finally had a chance to radio to the crew, “I’m loose in the center of the turns on the low groove.” The crew acknowledged and continued to encourage their driver that the rest of the top-10 trucks were making their way back to him.
The tight quarter racing and beating and banging on the short track continued and yellows were a sure thing, the first of which flew on lap 19. Buescher and the No.31 Great Clips Chevrolet elected to stay out on the race track and maintain their track position. The yellow flags would come in bunches on this day, with two more donning the short track before lap 30. Buescher, still running in the top-10, would do battle with the NCWTS points leader for the eighth position. The No.31 Chevrolet Silverado just proved to be too loose for Buescher as he started slipping back in the pack during the race’s long green-flag run that stretched from lap 36 to lap 94. Struggling to find grip from the concrete surface to the asphalt transition, Buescher slid all the way back to the 22nd position, one lap down to the leaders, before a timely yellow helped the Turner Motorsports team. Buescher received the “Lucky Dog” free pass back onto the lead lap after a pit stop to correct his ill-handling truck. The crew reviewed the tires and noticed the left rear tire was worn down to the cords, something that the team was going to be cautious about as the race went on.
Buescher, who seemed a little bit more pleased with his No.31 Great Clips truck, kept his race strategy in mind and began his impressive march towards the front of the pack during the race’s second half. With just 50 laps remaining, Buescher found himself running the in the 16th position, however, running consistent lap times with the leaders. While battling for a top-15 position with a gaggle of trucks, Buescher’s closest championship contender ran into misfortune on the speedway, bringing out another yellow flag. This caution flag gave crew chief Michael Shelton an opportunity to work on the truck once again. Buescher brought his Silverado down pit road and took four Goodyear tires and two cans of Sunoco fuel with no chassis adjustments. On the lap 159 restart, Buescher lined up in the 14th position. Poised for the final stretch of the race, Buescher got up on the wheel and began picking positions off one-by-one. With under 25 laps to go in the event, Buescher cracked the top-10 once again. With the tempers flaring and a handful of more yellow flags, the field bunched back up. Working diligently, Buescher made a bid for the sixth position over another championship contender in turns three and four and made the attempt stick, gaining the position just before the seventh and final yellow flag fell. With a restart with just seven laps left, Buescher lined up in the sixth position, racing off into turn one, Buescher was looking for a little help to move down low so he wouldn’t get shuffled back in the standings. Buescher was aggressive enough and move down low and briefly move up to the fifth position, however, on the last two laps, Buescher relinquished the top-five position, ending his up and down day in a solid sixth place. In the process, Buescher comes out of Martinsville as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points leader with just three races to go.
“The motto of our season has been “never give up” and today we proved why we should never give up. We stayed calm and never gave up. At the point in the race that we were a lap down, I did have all the faith in the world that we could come back for a top-10, I thought a top-five would be a long shot, but we were battling for it up until a couple laps to go.”
Turner Motorsports PR