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After early growing pains, Buescher and team ready to take big jump forward at Vegas

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It’s been a rough week for JTG Daugherty Racing after being found to have three loose lug nuts in Atlanta post-race inspection.

Crew chief Randall Burnett was suspended three races and fined $65,000, AJ Allmendinger was docked 35 points (dropping him from 11th to 35th in the driver standings) and the team lost 35 owner points.

Chris Buescher, who is in his first season with JTG, suddenly finds himself higher than his teammate in the Cup standings – albeit he’s in 34th.

Buescher is still getting used to his new team after spending last season with Front Row Motorsports.

“The transition has been good,” he said. “Everybody over at JTG Daugherty has been awesome. Daytona, we had a car that drafted really well and did not have the single-car speed that we would have liked, but at the end of the day it did what it needed to in the race.

“And then just caught up in one of the accident’s there, so we didn’t get the finish to show it, but AJ (Allmendinger, teammate) ran extremely well.

“And then Atlanta, was a race where we learned a bunch of stuff. We got a couple of little things we are going to dial in just from a feel stand point. Just trying to get used to it, something a little bit different.”

Buescher finished 35th at Daytona and was 24th at Atlanta, two laps down off the winner.

He attributes some of the reasons for his first two finishes to going through growing pains.

“I don’t know if it’s anything that you wouldn’t expect,” Buescher said. “It’s a matter of hiring a ton of new people and just getting everything blending in as quickly as possible.

“It’s a lot for a whole other team to be brought in and hired. I think (Competition Director Ernie Cope) said that they interviewed over 100 people during the process of trying to figure out what 30 or 40 to hire.

“They definitely did their due diligence to make sure that we got the best people coming in so that we are prepared to hit the ground running. I think they have done a great job with that. We have a good team.

“It’s just about as smooth as you could ask it to go really. I think everybody has been really pleased with how it has come together in a rather short period of time.”

Buescher comes into Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with a great deal of optimism, thinking many of the kinks in the first two races have been worked out. He also feels he has a car to give him his second career Cup win, having triumphed last season in the second race at Pocono.

“We got that all taken care of or the best we know how for right now and come out to Vegas here and see how it all applies,” Buescher said. “Excited to be out here for our West Coast swing. This is a fast race track here and we will see how everything comes together. I think it’s been pretty good so far.

“I really enjoy being over at JTG Daugherty. Absolutely excellent people, very tight family atmosphere. It reminds you more of the short track Saturday night racing when you had friends and family coming over to help in the garage before a race weekend. For me it’s been a really good time.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

 

NASCAR America: Kyle Busch questions Xfinity rules package at Indy

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Kyle Busch isn’t afraid to speak his mind, and he certainly did so after Saturday’s  Xfinity Series race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

NASCAR implemented a number of changes to make the racing closer, tighter and more exciting — including restrictor plates, a larger rear spoiler, aero ducts, and a smaller splitter — and achieved all that on many fronts.

But not for the younger Busch brother, who wasn’t pleased with the rules package. Was it actually designed to specifically slow him down rather than to even out things for the entire field?

Or was he just simply upset because he didn’t win a third Xfinity race in a row at IMS?

Check out how our NASCAR America analysts gauged the Xfinity changes in the above video.

 

TriStar Motorsports team owner Mark Smith passes away

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Mark Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports, died Saturday at his home, after a long battle with cancer, the team announced Monday. He was 63.

He began his racing career building engines for his brother Jack’s drag car in the 1970s. He moved his family from the West Coast in the early 1990s to pursue a career in NASCAR. He was the owner of TriStar Motorsports and Pro Motor Engines.

TriStar Motorsports fields the No. 14 in the Xfinty Series with JJ Yeley and the No. 72 in the Cup Series with Cole Whitt. The team stated the team will continue operations under the management of Bryan Smith, son of Mark Smith.

“It was dad’s dream to own and operate a NASCAR team,” Bryan Smith said. “He devoted his life to that dream and his family plans to honor his wishes by continuing our efforts in his memory.”

In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made to Victory Junction Gang victoryjunction.org or NOVA (National Organization for Vehicle Access, part of the BraunAbility) novafunding.org.

The family will receive friends from 5-8 p.m. ET, Aug. 1 at Cavin-Cook Funeral Home, Mooresville, North Carolina. They have created a Facebook page where you are encouraged to leave a story for the family to enjoy. (facebook.com/Remembering-Mark-Smith-301261653675224)

NASCAR America: Analysts break down Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr. wreck (video)

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Given how wild the Brickyard 400 played out, the big wreck between race leaders Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. wasn’t exactly surprising.

Rather, with the way the race transpired from the opening lap, was the Busch/Truex wreck almost inevitable?

Truex got loose and washed up into the left rear of Busch’s car, sending both drivers and their respective cars into the outside retaining walls, hitting hard and ending their respective days.

Check out what our NASCAR America analysts had to say about the wreck from Monday’s show in the above video.

NASCAR America: Dale Earnhardt Jr. recaps wild Brickyard 400 (video)

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On Monday’s edition of NASCAR America, Dale Earnhardt Jr. — who will become part of our NBC Sports Group in 2018 — looked back on a wild and intense Brickyard 400.

Earnhardt was one of several drivers whose day came to an early ending — in Junior’s case when he ran into the back of Trevor Bayne‘s car, destroying his radiator in the process.

All the mayhem and mishaps could be linked to over-aggressive driving, Earnhardt said, saying that every driver was in “attack mode,” especially on restarts.

Check out Junior in the video above.