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.”