The battle wasn't pretty, but it was good enough for James Buescher to win the war following Friday night's Ford EcoBoost 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Buescher finished the race 13th and claimed the series Drivers’ Championship.
"Just about went into the fence myself," Buescher said of his difficult race that almost saw him go a lap down at one points. "It wasn't just about this race; it's been a long year."
Buescher headed into the Homestead weekend with an 11-point lead over his closest competitor, Timothy Peters in the No. 17 Red Horse Racing Toyota, and 12 points ahead of third-place Ty Dillon in the No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.
Buescher qualified the worst of the three, starting the race from 17th spot while Dillon started third and Peters 14th. Buescher was unable to make his way toward the front, but he was able to remain close enough to not give up his entire points lead to his competitors.
It was close.
Dillon came close to overtaking Buescher late in the race, though. As Buescher was among the drivers in the back of the lead lap, trying to hold off trucks with fresher tires, Dillon began moving toward the front.
"It was close," Buescher said of the points battle near the end of the race. "Ty and everyone at RCR gave us a run for it."
Dillon moved into the second spot to get within Buescher and the points lead, but with three laps to go, a racing incident with the No. 4 Turner Motorsports Chevrolet of Kyle Larson sent Dillon into the wall and diminished his hopes of the 2012 Camping World Truck Series title.
"I hate it had to come down to us hitting the wall," Dillon said. "We laid it all on the line like I knew we could."
Dillon wound up finishing the race 25th and relinquished the third spot in points to RCR teammate Joey Coulter, driver of the No. 22 Chevrolet.
The championship is the first in Truck Series competition for Buescher, who came within 29 points of the series title last year, despite failing to qualify for the second race of the season at Phoenix International Raceway in 2011.
With Buescher's championship came the 2012 series owner championship for Turner Motorsports owner and Buescher's father-in-law Steve Turner. Turner began competing in the Truck Series during the 2009 season.
While Dillon dropped in the final Camping World Truck Series championship points standings, as somewhat of a consolation, he did take series rookie of the year honors.
"I'm still proud of the year," Dillon said. "Just wasn't our year."
Peters held on to the second spot in points with an eighth-place race finish.