James Buescher has always come to Texas Motor Speedway trying to win a race on the big track, the only one at the facility where the Plano native has never been to Victory Lane.
That won’t necessarily be Buescher’s lone goal for Friday night’s Winstar World Casino 350 in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Buescher, who drives the No. 31 Great Clips Chevrolet, is the point leader in the series with three races remaining. Buescher leads Ty Dillon by 21 points and Timothy Peters by 25. While winning at a track where he got his start would be nice, the 22-year-old also has to keep the race in perspective.
“We’re definitely in a different position,” said Buescher, who has won a series high four races this year. “We have to stay on the offensive. If we have to try and protect we’ll give up too many points. If we’re going into races thinking about running in the top 10, other teams can catch up with us. We have to stay on the offensive but we know we can’t be in any bad spots on the track.”
If anyone would know the bad spots at TMS, it’s Buescher. He won a championship in the Bandolero Young Gun Series as a 14-year-old and then raced in the Legends Series at the small track.
He’s had success at the 1 ½-mile quadoval, winning two poles in the NCWTS and another in the Nationwide Series. He has three top-10 finishes in seven starts and has led the last three races at TMS, but he still hasn’t won a race. He was on his way in June, leading the most laps, but got caught up in an accident and finished 14th.
Finishing 14th won’t cut it Friday with the standings so close.
“I still think if we can win at least one of the last three races, that would do nothing but show how strong this team is,” he said. “That’s kind of my mindset. If we just focus on winning, it takes the mind off worrying about whatever else is happening.”
Buescher also knows the value of racing smart. He did so last weekend at Martinsville. He battled with Matt Crafton for position late in the race, with the two trucks racing side-by-side. Instead of pushing for the position and possibly getting involved in an incident, Buescher backed off and settled for a sixth-place finish while Crafton finished fourth. That finish allowed him to move into the point lead for the first time this year.
In addition to smarts, Buescher can also rely on his past championship experience.
He won the ASA Late Model championship in 2006. While the stakes weren’t as high, it helped get Buescher ready for the grind of racing for a title against stout competition. He got a taste of running for a title last year, finishing third in the series.
Winning it all would be a huge accomplishment for Buescher, whose team is owned by his father-in-law Steve Turner.
“It would be huge,” Buescher said. “That’s what we’ve worked for all season long. Our goal was to win races and win a championship. There are 22 races you have an opportunity to win, but only one championship. That sets you apart from other drivers and puts you in a league of champions. That’s where we want to be. It would be good to have on the resume. It would help to stay in the sport longer if you’re a proven champion.”