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.”