Buescher Clinches Playoff Berth with Richmond Win
RIDGEWAY, Va. (July 30, 2023) – RFK Racing dominated Sunday afternoon’s race at Richmond Raceway as Chris Buescher won his third career Cup race and locked the No. 17 into the NASCAR Playoffs, while Brad Keselowski led the most laps of any car en route to a sixth-place finish.
“I knew that last restart was going to be tough, but I knew we had the speed in this thing,” said Buescher after the victory.” Our Fastenal Mustang was so good firing off today. I had to pass a bunch of cars today and have some great strategy and some great pit stops. Everybody at RFK Racing has worked so hard to get us to this point – this is awesome.”
Buescher – who earned his second win since Bristol last fall – led 88 of the final 95 laps in the Fastenal Ford Mustang, including holding off the field in a final restart with three laps remaining. Keselowski’s BuildSubmarines.com Ford led 102 laps in total, and won stage two in an RFK 1-2 finish, while earning his ninth top-10 finish, with now four races remaining in the regular season.
“Certainly tremendous execution,” Keselowski said after his second win as a co-owner at RFK. “We wanted to win 1-2, that’s the ultimate goal. We had these RFK Fords up front and had a heck of a day where we ran 1-2 part of it.
“This is kind of the next step for us, to be able to win races on a contender basis. I told somebody, a lot of you guys here this year, we have become relevant. The next step is to try to be contenders. You get to the contender status by winning races. We want to be where we win every week, we’re 1-2 finishing. This is another step in our progression and a lot to be proud of.”
Buescher certainly earned the hard-charger award, driving to the win from the 26th position after his qualifying run on Saturday. He proved early on that he did not belong there, driving up to 17th by the conclusion of stage one at lap 70.
Following a quick pit stop that put him plus four on the ensuing restart, Buescher fired off 13th for stage two, and by lap 101 was inside the top-10. He never left it from there.
With just one natural caution all day, green-flag pit stops dominated the action, with the first coming at lap 122. Once that cycle completed, Buescher was fifth at lap 145. Another green-flag cycle separated the field at lap 173 with Buescher again cycling back to fifth.
From there, he powered his way to second by the stage end at lap 230, surpassing the 23 – who led 80 laps in the race, and the 45, who sat on the pole and led 81 laps. With teammate Brad Keselowski at the point, the duo ran 1-2 from there all the way to lap 284 when they both hit pit road again under green. This time, Buescher cycled back to the leader with just one pit stop remaining on the day.
That final stop took place with 62 laps remaining for the Fastenal Ford. He again cycled back to the lead and set sail with a six-plus second lead, but a caution was displayed with nine laps to go. A stellar stop for fresh tires again put Buescher back on track in the lead, and he didn’t look back from there, driving to his third-career Cup Series victory.
Keselowski’s day began from the 13th position following his qualifying effort Saturday, and he, too, charged to the front early. The BuildSubmarines.com Ford was 10th just 29 laps in, eighth 30 laps later, and went on to finish ninth in the opening stage of 70 laps.
He fired off sixth for stage two, but from there quickly drove forward to third by lap 101. His first green-flag stop of the day came at lap 122 with his teammate, as he cycled to the third spot by lap 145. Another pit cycle gave him the lead by lap 182, before he went on to win stage two with RFK taking the top two spots.
They restarted in the same positions and maintained until the next green-flag cycle, this one at lap 284. Keselowski pitted from the lead and nearly overshot his pit box, losing just enough time to relinquish the lead.
He later regained the top-five position and maintained the spot throughout, before going on to finish sixth in a race that saw just the one natural caution with nine to go.
Michigan International Speedway hosts the Cup Series next weekend as the month of August kicks off with the final run to the playoffs. Race coverage Sunday is set for 2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, MRN, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.