NASCAR Truck Series - Fred's 250
October 19th, 2013 - Talladega Superspeedway
After a two-week hiatus, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) returned to action at the series' largest track on the schedule, Talladega Superspeedway. After a solid fourth-place qualifying effort, James Buescher and his No. 31 Rheem team proved to be one of the trucks to beat during the Fred's 250. After leading 15 laps in the early going, Buescher got shuffled back in the running order due to pit strategy. Just as Buescher was about to hook back up with a drafting partner to make another run to the front, he received contact from another competitor, forcing a four-wide battle. This contact sent Buescher spinning into other competitors and caused substantial damage to his Rheem Chevrolet Silverado, forcing his once promising day to come to a close early. Buescher was credited with a 26th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway.
During the two hours of NCWTS practice on Friday morning, Buescher and his Rheem team mostly focused on qualifying, but Buescher found a strong partner with the No. 3 while drafting. The two seemed to make a dominant duo and this translated over to the race on Saturday afternoon. When the green flag released the 36-truck field, Buescher got connected with the sixth-place truck and moved to the outside lane. By the time the duo returned to the line to complete lap two, Buescher was credited as the leader. Buescher would go on to lead 15 laps in total during the 94-lap event. Under the first yellow flag of the day, Buescher radioed to the crew that everything was good. When Buescher brought the field back to the green flag, he received threats from multiple other tandems looking for the lead. Buescher held strong and stayed in front of the field until lap 21 when Buescher ducked down pit road for the first time.
The Rheem crew gave Buescher two fresh Goodyear Wrangler tires and one can of Sunoco fuel. Buescher restarted the event in the fourth spot, putting him in position to get teamed up with the No. 3, the same drafting partner from the practice session on Friday. When the two got connected on the restart, they rocketed to the front of the field. These two stayed in the top-two running spots until their next scheduled pit stop on lap 53. Buescher gave up the second position to come down pit road for a green-flag stop to receive four fresh tires and fuel. Buescher exited the pits just ahead of the pack, but the race saw its third yellow flag soon after. Knowing that their No. 31 would be restarting in the middle of the pack, crew chief Michael Shelton called his driver down pit road to top off the fuel tank before going back green.
Trying to survive running deep in the pack for the first time during the race, Buescher sounded anxious on the radio while he looked for a partner to get back to the front of the field. This green-flag stretch didn't last long, as the fourth yellow flag was quickly displayed just a couple laps later. Now in their fuel window, Buescher came back down pit road for right-side tires and a full load of fuel. Once again restarting towards the back of the pack, Buescher was looking for a drafting partner to take him to the front of the pack. Just as Buescher got back to his previous partners, the field went four wide down the backstretch. When another competitor squeezed into Buescher, the contact sent the No. 31 spinning into oncoming traffic. Buescher received heavy damage in the process and was forced to end what looked to be a very promising day. Buescher and the No. 31 Rheem team were credited with a 26th-place finish.
Obviously, this was a very disappointing finish to what was a strong start for our Rheem team. We had a very strong truck all day; we just got shuffled back in the running order towards the middle portion of the race. It's very tight quarters racing back there, and that's what eventually cost us a great finish. My Rheem team has nothing to lose, so we'll move on to Martinsville looking to get back to victory lane. - James Buescher
Start - 4, Finish - 26, Laps Led - 16, Points - 19