James Buescher victorious in Joliet after frantic finish
BY TINA AKOURIS firstname.lastname@example.org July 21, 2012 11:38PM
James Buescher performs a celebratory burnout after taking the lead on the final lap and capturing the American Ethanol 225 in Joliet. | Russel LaBounty~AP
NASCAR in Joliet
What: Nationwide STP 300.
When, where: Today, Chicagoland Speedway. Qualifying, 10:35 a.m. (ESPN2); STP 300,
2 p.m. (ESPN).
Tickets: Call (888) 629-7223 or visit www.chicagolandspeedway.com.
Updated: August 23, 2012 11:04AM
A busted carburetor was no problem for James Buescher, whose team pulled off a flawless repair during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ American Ethanol 225 Saturday at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet.
Buescher kept losing power and couldn’t pass anyone when he had to bring his No. 31 Chevrolet onto pit road for the carburetor change on lap 81 of the 150-lap race. He lost two laps and the change took about three minutes, but Buescher held off Brendan Gaughan and points leader Timothy Peters, who finished third.
“We decided on the fly to switch the carburetor,” crew chief Michael Shelton said. “We had about half a lap to make that decision.”
With three laps to go, Peters took the inside line in a tightly-bunched field and left Buescher to the outside. Both drivers were dead even going out of turn two, but Peters took the lead by inches just before the white flag was waved for the final lap.
Peters’ lead didn’t last. He dropped behind Buescher and then Gaughan overtook Peters on turn three to take second.
“I thought the two went way too slow and to go from 35 mph to about 170, I don’t know why they went so slow and got us jumbled up,” Buescher said. “I knew I had to outrun Timothy.”
Peters said he lost the lead because Gaughan held him down and took the high line on the racetrack.
Gaughan led with nine laps to go as Peters trailed right behind him and Richard Childress Racing teammate Ty Dillon ran in third.
But as the field came out of a caution, Gaughan spun his tires and took to the outside on a slower-than-normal restart. Peters took the lead away from Gaughan around turns one and two, and pulled away from the field as he went across the start-finish line. Gaughan ended up dropping to fourth, and Dillon fell like a rock to sixth when a caution came out with six laps to go.
“For the last eight years, I’d have given anything to run as close to second and pass a bunch of people,” said Gaughan, whose 83 laps led was his highest total since leading 106 at Las Vegas in 2003. “There was no truck out there that was going to beat it unless we beat ourselves. And I spun my tires on the second-to-last restart and I gave an opening.”
Dillon trailed Peters in the point standings by only four and was tied with Justin Lofton for second going into the race. But Peters was able to extend his points lead to 23 by the end of the night. Lofton fell to third in the point standings, 30 behind Peters.
Todd Bodine, 48, made his 200th career start in the truck series, becoming the only driver with at least 200 starts in all three NASCAR series. Bodine has 241 Sprint Cup starts and 325 in the Nationwide Series.
On lap 72 during a caution, four-time Truck Series champion Ron Hornaday, Jr. reached the 50,000-lap mark.