Chris Buescher wins the NASCAR Xfinity Collection Championship at Homestead – Sports activities – The St. Augustine File
HOMESTEAD – Chris Buescher never made a big mistake, never got insecure, and didn’t even try to fight for a win.
He liked to decide on a championship.
Buescher won the Xfinity Series title on Saturday, helping to offset the sting of an unsatisfactory Sprint Cup season for Roush Fenway Racing.
The 23-year-old Buescher won the championship with eleventh place in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway and thus won the fifth crown in the second division for team owner Jack Roush.
“I was a bit nervous, but all in all that was exactly what we had to do,” said Buescher. “And we knew that and we knew we could do it. We did it and now we can celebrate.”
Buescher was the last driver on the lead lap, finishing 15.9 seconds behind race winner Kyle Larson.
Larson had led early for most of the race, finalizing Austin Dillon for four laps for his third Xfinity win of his career.
“I love this track,” said Larson. “I almost won the last two races here. It feels good to finally make it.”
Dillon, the 2013 serial champion, finished second, followed by Truck Series champions Erik Jones, Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney.
Buescher had to finish 13th or better without leading a lap to win the championship at Homestead. He also held back defending champions Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon and Regan Smith, all of whom were within striking distance to take out Buescher.
Dillon was seventh, Elliott eighth and Smith ninth.
In 33 starts in the No. 60 Mustang, Buescher achieved victories in Iowa and Dover. He had 11 top fives and 20 top 10.
“I’m not a points racer,” he said. “I don’t like it. It’s not the most fun way to drive the last 10 races of the season. But it’s important. We’ve been fighting for that since February.”
Buescher, who is not as well known as his three closest rivals, has held the lead for 23 weeks this season. He turned down Elliott’s offer to play in a row for his last full Xfinity season. Elliott finished 15 points behind Buescher.
Elliott, son of 1988 Hall of Fame nominee and NASCAR Champion, Bill Elliott, will take over Jeff Gordon’s ride in the # 24 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports next year. The team had to find a place for him at the top level of NASCAR or they risked losing the 19-year-old to another organization.
Elliott intended to hold back on Sunday.
“I definitely don’t want to get in the middle of the action,” said Elliott. “I’ll be one of the 24 biggest fans here tomorrow night to see how they fight for the championship.”
Buescher, a former ARCA champion in his second full Xfinity season, joined Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and two-time champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as serial champions for Roush.
Roush had added at least one driver to the chase every season since its introduction in 2004 before missing the playoffs that season. Stenhouse, Biffle, and 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne have struggled this season.
Ford also completed the manufacturer’s championship for the fifth time, and Roger Penske won the owner’s championship. Daniel Suarez won the rookie of the year with a sixth place.
Larson and Kyle Busch dominated most of the race and seemed ready for a tough fight on the track.
Busch, who ran 64 laps, finished 30th after two breakdowns in the late race – a loose tire in the pit lane that then brushed the inside wall – and crippled his bump on the checkered flag on the same track he drives for his races will be the first Sprint Cup championship on Sunday. Busch drove the third fastest qualifying lap, the best among the Chase finalists.
Hailed as the next big NASCAR star, Larson is winless in 74 Career Cup starts and left Homestead with two wins in 74 Xfinity starts.
Larson showed class after the victory and refused to take part in the festive burnout.
“This is championship week and it’s all about the champions. Congratulations to Chris Buescher,” said Larson. “I wanted him to celebrate. It’s always weird when I was in the stands and two cars burned out. I wanted Chris to have his moment there