NASCAR Truck Series - Ford EcoBoost 200
November 15th, 2013 - Homestead-Miami Speedway
Looking to close out the 2013 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) on top, James Buescher and his Rheem team wouldn't go down without a fight. After a sixth-place starting position for the Ford EcoBoost 200, Buescher searched around the 1.5-mile oval for a groove in which was suitable for his Rheem Chevrolet. Running inside the top-10 for most of the night, slight contact with another competitor forced Buescher down pit road multiple times for repairs to his left front nose. These unscheduled pit stops forced Buescher to give up valuable track position and put him deep in the field for the eventual three attempts at a green-white-checked finish. Not giving up, Buescher stuck his No. 31 Rheem Chevy in some tight spots in the final laps to bring home a 13th-place finish in the NCWTS season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
With just only one practice session available to the teams,, the Rheem team went to work on finding the right balance for their Silverado. Battling a tight-handling race truck much of the two hour practice session, the Rheem crew hit on a set up that would place them third quickest on the practice charts heading into the qualifying session later that afternoon. Buescher was able to back up his practice times with a solid sixth-place starting position for the scheduled 134-lap Ford EcoBoost 200.
When the green flag released the 36-truck field for the final time in 2013, Buescher found himself in some tight battles inside the top-10. While running in the seventh-position, the yellow flag slowed the field on lap six for a piece of debris. When the field got the green again, they picked up where they left off with some feverish battles throughout the field. Buescher eventually settled into ninth-place and would hold that position until the first round of pit stops on lap 43 after the yellow was displayed. Complaining of a tight-handling race truck, crew chief Michael Shelton called for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. Restarting in the eighth spot, Buescher went back to work, trying to reel in the top-five. On lap 55, Buescher radioed back to his crew that his Rheem Chevrolet was still tight and that he believed he had some damage on the left front of his nose when close racing action found that a competitor slid up into Buescher. Hoping for a yellow flag to come work on their truck, the Rheem team worked to fabricate a patch in which they would use to put over the damaged area of the Silverado. The Rheem crew got their opportunity to come down pit road multiple times on lap 66 when the third yellow flag was displayed.
With their truck repaired, Buescher gave up valuable track position and would restart 23rd. Buescher went to work and started to pick up positions one-by-one, eventually getting up to 17th before the next yellow was displayed on lap 94. After coming down pit road to work on his tight handling truck, the Rheem crew gave Buescher four fresh tires, fuel and made a track-bar adjustment for the shootout to the checkered flag. This wouldn't be their last pit stop as a flurry of yellow flags would be displayed and different strategies would start to take shape. On lap 132, just two laps before the end of the scheduled distance, Buescher ducked down pit road for two right-side Goodyear Wranglers. Buescher would restart in the 10th position. Buescher tried to hang on to his top-10 but two more yellow flags sent the 2013 NCWTS season into overtime. Buescher weathered the tight quarters racing and was able to bring his Rheem Chevrolet home in the 13th-position and third in the NCWTS Drivers Point Standings.
It wasn't the way we were hoping to close out our season, but my Rheem team fought hard all season long and we weren't going to give up. We lost valuable track position when we had to make those multiple pit stops to repair the nose of the truck and we weren't able to get back up to contention until late. I can't thank my entire Rheem team enough for sticking through an up and down year and giving us a truck to contend with each and every week. - James Buescher
Start - 6, Finish - 13, Laps Led - 0, Points - 32