Chris Buescher represents for Texas, winning Xfinity Series Championship in season finale

Harold Hinson/Harold Hinson Photography

By Jerry Jordan — HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Although Chris Buescher came into the season’s final race at Homestead-Miami Speedway with an 18-point lead over defending Xfinity Series Champion Chase Elliott, he wasn’t a lock for the title. However, at the end of the day, his 11th place run was enough for him to lift the big trophy over his head and celebrate his first-ever series championship.

“This is the biggest moment in my career. Just an awesome year for our organization, for our team. The guys did a tremendous job. No DNFs all year, no mechanical failures, nothing that we beat ourselves on. You know, we were flawless in that regard, and it put us in the position to go out and win this thing like we can today.”

“We didn’t have to go out there and win the race in order to bring a championship home. We had to make sure we finished, and we did just that. Just so proud of the guys. Just thank you to Ford and all of our sponsors, Fastenal and Roush and AdvoCare and everyone that came on board and helped this year. I think we ran 11 different paint schemes to make it to the end.”

“It was a tough year, but I’m so happy we were able to pull it off, and again, just so proud of my team. They’ve really stepped up to the occasion and made sure that this happened.”

Buescher battled back from being a lap down after crew chief, Scott Graves, called him to pit road for tires. Graves said he was more nervous about being a lap down earlier in the race than when race-winner, Kyle Larson, was so dominant.

“You know, today was ‑‑ I had a panic moment for them. I got three wide one time, and they got ‑‑ their voices elevated over the radio. It was something like a three wide middle, middle being back out, like that’s enough. Just be careful.”

“We had to come out here ‑‑ I can’t tell you how many times Herm told me to keep that right side clean, just knowing that last year here a couple guys got into the fence with the right side and actually cut tires down. I don’t think that we had any of that this race. A lot of guys hit the fence, but I don’t think any of them ended up cutting a tire because of it.”

Because they had fresh tires, Buescher was able keep himself in the Lucky Dog position and gained his lap back on an ensuing caution when Kyle Busch tried to avoid the No. 39 car of Derek White and came across the nose of Ryan Reed’s Ford Fusion.

“It feels great to be a champion at this level, you think of competitive sports around the world and this is one of the top ones for me,” Graves said. “To be able to get a championship in this series is an honor for me.

“We thought having fresh tires on it put us in a better position. We knew if we could be in the Lucky Dog position and the wave around worked for those other guys that was going to be the best option.”

Buescher, a Texas-native, hailing from the thriving metropolis of Prosper, was competing in his second full-time season in the sport’s second-highest touring series and had two wins, 11 Top fives and 20 Top 10’s on the season. He also becomes only the second Texas driver to win a title in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. The first was Corpus Christi native, Bobby Labonte.

He said it wasn’t an easy road and he left home at an early age to go race. It took some key people along the way helping him but the sacrifices paid off Saturday night.

“I was very fortunate that I met the Ragans when I was racing legends cars,” Buescher said, referring to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver, David Ragan’s father, Ken. “From Texas, we raced legends cars out on the East Coast, three months every summer. That’s what I spent my summer vacation as a kid doing.”

“We traveled out to Charlotte, we raced 40 to 60 races in that period of time, and we stayed very busy, worked very hard to make sure that we were able to be competitive in all those races, and you know, through that and through a black flag I received for rough driving one week, I was fortunate enough to meet Ken Ragan and got to know David at the same time as David was getting his break over at Roush and started driving the 6 truck with Mark Martin on that part‑time basis. Got to the point where we got to be good friends.”

“Ken got to a point where he said, man, we want to help you. We’d like to see you make this. I think you can do it. But you’ve got to move to Charlotte. He told me family that, and I’m like, man, we can’t. I have two younger sisters out in Texas, both very heavily involved in after‑school activities.”

“Their lives are out there. I can’t expect them to uproot for myself. So my parents told me we weren’t going to be able to do it, and Ken said, well, why don’t you just move in with us. He said, David just moved out and he said, you can just take his bedroom and just keep up with the yard and make sure it’s mowed and kept up nice, and we’ll see what we can do to give you a hand.”

“So I left the house at just before 16 years old and moved out to Charlotte. Home schooled through what was the rest of ‑‑ what was left of my high school years, went and got a GED, and pretty much did whatever I could to stay racing. I worked in David Ragan’s shop. I helped on his late model legends cars, and they really helped me get to this point. They really gave me an opportunity that I wouldn’t have had otherwise.”

“I’ve got to thank my parents for being gracious enough to let me move away from home at 16 years old. That was tough on them. But I think after today, they know it was well worth it.”

November 21, 2015: Chris Buescher wins the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship during the Ford 300 at Homestead Miami Speedway in Homestead FL. (HHP/Harold Hinson)

November 21, 2015: Chris Buescher wins the 2015 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship during the Ford 300 at Homestead Miami Speedway in Homestead FL. (HHP/Harold Hinson)

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