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NASCAR Cup Richmond II

Buescher vows not to be a "placeholder" in NASCAR playoffs

Chris Buescher’s victory Sunday at Richmond (Va.) Raceway confirmed the vast improvement at RFK Racing that had already become quite apparent this season.

Race winner Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang

Before Sunday’s race, both Buescher and RFK Racing co-owner Brad Keselowski were in good position to make the 16-driver NASCAR Cup playoffs based on points.

But the performance of both drivers Sunday – and especially Buescher’s win – also hints at the organization’s potential, especially as the victory locks Buescher into the playoff field.

“We’ve talked about that as a team, that obviously it has to be in the back of our minds because we are in a good spot in points. We’ve worked hard to have that consistency,” Buescher explained. “But we’re not indestructible where we were at, that a win would take care of everything.

“That’s our sport: winning fixes everything. It fixes the points talk. It fixes morale. It fixes bad weekends. Everything can be changed by winning.”

Race winner Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang

Race winner Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Ford Mustang

Photo by: Rusty Jarrett / NKP / Motorsport Images

Winning is also the best way to advance in the series playoffs and now that Buescher’s No. 17 Ford team has won in back-to-back seasons, the potential exists for him to be more than a spoiler in the playoffs – he could well be a title contender.

“It’s awesome that we are in the playoffs. That was part of our goal at the beginning of the season. At RFK we talked about winning races, making the playoffs, and being able to be a contender in the playoffs,” Buescher said. “We don’t want to be a placeholder by any means, either.

“When I look at the races we have in the first half of the playoffs, especially, I feel really confident that we can be a contender and we can move forward.”

Buescher’s first win at RFK last fall at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway was an important one for the 30-year-old native of Prosper, Texas, but Sunday’s had a little something extra.

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“It surely is a big win this time knowing that this gives us a playoff eligibility. The Bristol win, the night race last year, top of my bucket list. Ecstatic to win that race,” he said. “The thing that was missing was the fact that we weren’t in the playoffs.

“Now we get to go win another Bristol race, that sends us into the next round, that gives us a whole extra level of confidence going into these last 14 races on the season.”

Four races remain before the playoffs begin Sept.3 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and RFK still sees opportunities both for Keselowski to lock himself in with a win and for Buescher to improve his seeding.

“We have Michigan coming up – should be pretty good. Two road courses, which has been really strong for RFK and myself,” Buescher said. “I have really enjoyed those and feel like we have a chance to win more races before the cutoff.

“It lets us go into those and maybe be a little bit more aggressive or take a little bit more chance on strategy. We get to go race the way we talk about racing all the time.”

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