NASCAR Cup Series

Chris Buescher cruises in RFK masterclass at Richmond

3 Mins read
Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

23XI Racing and RFK Racing were the stars of the show in Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series action at Richmond Raceway, but the latter ultimately stole the spotlight. While the 23XI duo of Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace dominated the first stage to finish 1–2, the latter never recovered after a slow pit stop while his team-mate suffered a commitment line violation penalty to drop him out of contention too.

Their team owner Denny Hamlin tried for one last gasp on the final restart with three laps remaining but ran wide while trying to chase down RFK’s Chris Buescher. With Hamlin left to fend off those behind him, Buescher drove off to his first win of 2023 with his boss Brad Keselowski finishing sixth, completing a banner day for the team.

Like 23XI, the RFK duo occupied the top two spots at the end of Stage #2. Keselowski also led the most laps with 102 while Buescher had the second highest at eighty-eight. Buescher enjoyed his third career Cup victory and second at RFK after Bristol, another short track, in 2022. While the team has particularly excelled on short tracks, Buescher feels they have taken strides in their second season under the RFK identity at all track types.

“What I’m proud of at RFK as a group is we don’t have to just talk about short track racing,” Buescher said in his post-race press conference. “We can talk about superspeedway racing and know we’re going to be up front battling for wins, leading laps. We can talk about road course racing and know that we’ve been very competitive at a lot of those and been battling for wins. We can talk about some mile-and-a-halfs and be in the conversation there, as well. Maybe not quite as strong and not have the results, but we’ve had moments at a lot of different styles of race tracks. That’s what I’m most proud of. It would be great if we just stepped up our short track programme and we were competitive at these styles of race tracks. That would put you in a place where we’d be leaving Richmond saying we don’t have another shot until Bristol maybe. I don’t know what the first one would be. That’s not where we’re at.

“We have race tracks that we’re going to be competitive at every week. We do not have to circle race tracks as our chance or this is where we’re going to be really good and we’re going to have to get through this week. We haven’t had that this season. Really didn’t have a whole lot of that last season as well.

“Last season was a building season. It took a lot of work to get there. To see results from all that work is big for us.”

The race was remarkably clean, going without a caution through the first two stages. The lone incident which set up the last restart came with eight laps remaining when Daniel Suárez spun after contact with Noah Gragson. Still, Suárez reached the finish as did all thirty-six cars; it is the first Cup race since 2018 at Homestead where every car completed the race, while the last at Richmond was the 2016 fall event.

While on-track drama was probably scant, plenty took place in the pits. Besides the aforementioned 23XI blunders dooming their day, Aric Almirola suffered a pass-through penalty for a commitment line violation but rebounded for eighth.

In a “continuation” of their clash at Pocono last Sunday, Kyle Larson bumped past Hamlin, though the latter had the last laugh again as he finished second while Larson and Hendrick Motorsports struggled mightily. Chase Elliott was the highest finishing Hendrick driver in a paltry thirteenth while Larson was nineteenth. Regardless, Hamlin expressed understanding for Larson’s action as he was on newer tyres.

Race results

12617Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord400Running
2311Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
328Kyle BuschRichard Childress RacingChevrolet400Running
42322Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord400Running
51141Ryan PreeceStewart-Haas RacingFord400Running
6136Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord400Running
71019Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
82410Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord400Running
9173Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet400Running
1084Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord400Running
112014Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord400Running
12523Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota400Running
1349Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet400Running
142512Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord400Running
15754Ty GibbsJoe Gibbs RacingToyota400Running
16145Tyler Reddick23XI RacingToyota400Running
17947Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet400Running
181548Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet400Running
19145Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet400Running
202920Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota399Running
21624William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet399Running
221834Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord399Running
232743Erik JonesLegacy Motor ClubChevrolet399Running
24191Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet399Running
251638Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord399Running
26302Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord399Running
273616A.J. AllmendingerKaulig RacingChevrolet399Running
281242Noah GragsonLegacy Motor ClubChevrolet398Running
293251Ryan NewmanRick Ware RacingFord398Running
302831Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet398Running
312221Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord397Running
32317Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet397Running
333399Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet396Running
343477Ty DillonSpire MotorsportsChevrolet396Running
353515J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingFord396Running
362178B.J. McLeodLive Fast MotorsportsChevrolet395Running
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for points
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Justin is neither a NASCAR nor off-road racer, but he has covered them for The Checkered Flag since 2018.
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