With this finish, Buescher would tie his career best finish of 12th at PIR in a NASCAR Nationwide Series car.
With two solid practice sessions Friday and narrowly missing the cut for the second segment of qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway (PIR), James Buescher rolled off the grid for the Blue Jeans Go Green 200 in the 16th position. When the green flag turned the field loose, Buescher wasted no time advancing his position going three-wide on the first lap. The race would stay green until lap 21 when the first of four yellow flags were displayed. With a handful of cars ducking down pit road, the RAB Racing No.99 Rheem team opted to stick to their pit strategy and not pit.
Buescher would crack the top-10 for the first time in the race when he restarted in the ninth position. Just a few laps later, Buescher radioed to his crew that he was tight all the way through the corners on both ends of the track. While still running inside the top-10 in the ninth position, Buescher and the crew prepared for the impending pit stop. Buescher made his green-flag pit stop on lap 83 when he brought his No. 99 Rheem Toyota Camry down to the attention of his crew. Crew chief Chris Rice made the call for four tires, Sunoco fuel and a chassis adjustment to free up their Camry. The long green-flag stretch came to an end when the yellow was once again displayed on lap 88. Buescher felt the adjustments had helped his Camry saying he was now loose; Buescher however wasn't too concerned when he felt the car would come to him as the run went on. It was on lap 135 under yellow that Buescher ducked down pit road for his final stop of the race. This time the Rheem team only took right-side tires and topped off with fuel. A great pit stop by the No. 99 Rheem crew helped Buescher gain a couple spots on pit road. With the threat of rain in the area, the drivers knew they had to get what they could on the race's final restart. The final restart of the race came on lap 142, Buescher got up on the wheel and found him five-wide in dogleg of the backstretch to maintain a top-10 running position. As the laps were logged, Buescher developed a tight-handling race car. Buescher slipped back to the 12th position before the skies opened up and soaked the 1.0-mile tri-oval. After an extended rain delay, and multiple attempts to dry the speedway, a second weather system entered the area. NASCAR Officials were forced to shorten the scheduled 200-lap event to 168 laps. With this finish, Buescher would tie his career best finish of 12th at PIR in a NASCAR Nationwide Series car.
"I felt like we had a strong Rheem Toyota Camry all weekend," said Buescher. "It's a shame that the rains came because I felt like we had at least a top-10 car if not a top-five. For only our second race together, I feel like we've come a long away and before too long, I think we'll be up front contending for a win. I'm really looking forward to getting to Vegas and building on what we have started this year."
The NASCAR Nationwide Series stays out west when the series makes their one and only stop at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday, March 8 for the Boyd Gaming 300.