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It’s back to business as usual for Chris Buescher and Front Row Motorsports

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As the Chase for the Sprint Cup rolls on, life has returned to normal for Chris Buescher and company.

The No. 34 Front Row Motorsports team was eliminated in the first round and since then, the spotlight has faded away. It’s something Buescher admits that he misses.

“We obviously wanted to make it farther along in the Chase; it just didn’t play out,” Buescher told NBC Sports. “The way the first two races of the Chase went with those really long green flag runs at the beginning, it just didn’t give us a chance to come in and tune on it any, or be able to work any strategy early on in a race. From that standpoint, it just didn’t work out in our favor.

“It’s still awesome that we are where we are. We know we can’t go any further back than 16th.”

Making the playoffs was a boost for Front Row, which has limited resources and small budget compared to some teams. Finishing within the top 20 in points will certainly fall into that category. As does winning a race, which the team did at Pocono Raceway in August to qualify for the Chase.

Being among the 16 title contenders could only leave Buescher shaking his head at the accomplishment – especially with how many drivers from bigger organizations didn’t make the cut.

“It’s pretty awesome to be talked about and hear fans come up and mention pulling for the underdog and being that small team that made it happen, that was big,” Buescher said. “It still is. It’s cool to hear that every week and everywhere we go. We did get a lot of notoriety out of it. It’s great for (sponsor) Love’s being onboard for most of the year, for CSX, everybody to ride on the high of it and be here right now.”

Which is why Buescher doesn’t let the negative comments about his Chase inclusion bother him.

“We did something different that worked out and that was big for us, that changed our whole year, moved a lot of different things around, and put us in a great spot,” Buescher said. “People will always say what they want to. The truth of it is there were 39 other teams that could have made the exact same call and gotten into the Chase and we were the ones that did it.”

As far as riding off any momentum of being in the playoffs, Buescher says it has been business as usual. Crew chief Bob Osborne is back taking chances while the team can be more aggressive in their setups with Buescher not having to worry about putting himself in precarious positions on the track.

Buescher also notes the gains the team has made since the beginning of the year as they’ve become more accustomed to each other. But what does a team aim for next after having accomplished two major goals in their rookie season?

According to Buescher, that would be finding a little more consistency.

“We still have some inconsistencies in that we’ve been able to show up to some racetracks and be really good and we show up to others and we’re not where we need to be,” Buescher said. “The goal would be to try and smooth that out and try and make it to where if we can show up and run fifth at Bristol and be top 10 or top five in practice at Kentucky, we should be able to do that at other short tracks; we should be fast at other intermediates. Making that all carry over has been a goal and trying to make it to where we’re like that every week.”

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NASCAR America: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. talks Phoenix finish, racing roots

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Ricky Stenhouse Jr. joins NASCAR America to go over his fourth-place finish at Phoenix Raceway.

The Roush Fenway Racing driver also shares his racing origins in Mississippi and the hobbies he and girlfriend Danica Patrick share with each other.

Stenhouse is in his fifth full-time year competing in the NASCAR Cup Series with Roush Fenway Racing.

NASCAR America: 50 States in 50 Shows: Alaska

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NASCAR America continues its journey through the United States with the second chapter in “50 States in 50 Shows.”

Following South Alabama Speedway, the show features Capitol Speedway and Alaska Raceway Park in Alaska.

Owned by Nancy and Wes Wallace, Capitol Speedway is a 3/8th-mile oval and features sprint car racing and demolition derbies.

 

Kevin Harvick crew chief fined, suspended one race for encumbered finish

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Kevin Harvick‘s crew chief, Rodney Childers, has been suspended for one NASCAR Cup Series race and fined $25,000 for an unapproved track bar slider assembly last weekend at Phoenix Raceway.

The penalty, a L1 infraction, results in an encumbered finish. Harvick placed sixth in the Camping World 500.

The No. 4 team has also been docked 10 driver and owner points. Harvick was seventh in the standings after four races. He trailed leader Kyle Larson by 61 points. The loss of points drops Harvick one spot to eighth behind Jamie McMurray.

Harvick has not won a race yet, which would qualify him for the playoffs.

MORE: Brad Keselowski closes crew chief for three races, team docked 35 driver points

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NASCAR docks Brad Keselowski, Team Penske 35 points; suspends crew chief Paul Wolfe

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NASCAR docked Brad Keselowski 35 points, suspended crew chief Paul Wolfe three races and fined Wolfe $65,000 because Keselowski’s car failed inspection after finishing fifth in last weekend’s race at Phoenix Raceway.

NASCAR also docked the team 35 owner points for the L1 infraction. NASCAR stated that Keselowski’s result is an encumbered finish.

NASCAR cited Keselowski’s car for failing weights and measurements on the laser platform. NASCAR stated in Wednesday’s penalty report that the team failed the rear wheel steer on the Laser Inspection Station. 

MORE: NASCAR suspends crew chief Rodney Childers one race

Team Penske issued a statement Wednesday:

“We have acknowledged the penalties levied against the No. 2 team following last weekend’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway.  The race cars returned to the race shop today and we are in the process of evaluating the area in question. In the meantime, we have decided Brian Wilson will serve as Brad Keselowski’s crew chief at Auto Club Speedway while we evaluate our approach relative to today’s penalties.”

The penalty drops Keselowski from second in the standings to fourth heading into this weekend’s race at Auto Club Speedway.

The more significant issue is how this could impact Keselowski, who already has a win, in the playoffs.

The top 10 in points before the playoffs begin earn additional points. The points leader earns 15 playoff points. The driver second in the standings earns 10 playoff points, the driver third in the standings earns eight playoff points, the driver fourth in the standings earns seven playoff points. It goes down to the driver 10th in the standings earning one playoff point.

Those playoff points carry through the first three rounds, which is different from last year. Falling behind in the regular season – or losing points because of a penalty – could have ramifications in the playoffs. 

“I think it’s real important to explain why points matter this year,” Keselowski said on Fox Sports 1’s “Race Hub” on Wednesday night. “Last year, you got a win and you locked in and you got to the next round. This year with points, you still lock in with wins. The difference is there’s a huge points bonus for having the most points at the end of the season that carries all the way through the playoffs, and you only get that bonus if you’re one of the best cars and leading up front at the end of the regular season, which requires having a lot of points. Thirty-five points is a pretty big deal, and so is 10 points for Kevin (Harvick) and his team.”

 

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