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Buescher looks for bigger win, and $1 million that comes with it

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Last year’s win at Pocono was the biggest win in Chris Buescher’s life.

He’s looking for an even bigger win – with a $1 million prize to the victor – in this Saturday’s NASCAR Cup All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“It would probably top my last win,” Buescher said in a team media release. “It would be awesome. If we could pull it off, it’d be very special.”

Buescher feels that his JTG Daugherty Racing team has been steadily improving since he began racing for it this season (he raced for Front Row Motorsports last season).

“Our program has gotten much stronger over the last month and a half, specifically, and I’ve been really happy with the progress we’re making,” Buescher said. “Everything is starting to come together really nicely.

“We feel like we’re starting to put together really competitive cars on the racetrack, we just have to get through a little bit of bad luck and try to be mistake-free.”

But in a format like the All-Star Race, mistakes are more likely to happen than in a conventional points-paying race.

“I think there’s going to be the opportunity to make mistakes, and I think that opportunity is going to be larger than it usually is, just with all the different options we have on pit road being such a competitive place,” Buescher said. “Everyone is going to try to get as much speed as possible and you have to make sure all the lug nuts are tight and that you hit your pit box the right way. It’s going to be a challenge.

“But if you can pull that one off, it’s going to be a huge thing on your resume to be able to say you got a win at the All-Star Race.”

Buescher is in a much different situation for this year’s All-Star Race: he’s got a confirmed starting spot via his Pocono win, while last year he fell short of making the All-Star Race field.

“We tried really hard to get into the All-Star Race last year and just weren’t able to do it,” Buescher said. “But with that win at Pocono last season we’re qualified in, so we’re taking what we’ve got and we’re ready to go racing.

“We get to qualify with the other all stars, which is always interesting with the no speed limit pit road qualifying format. It’s going to be a busy weekend. It’s going to be exciting racing for a million dollars for the first time. It’s an awesome opportunity and I’m just happy to be a part of it.”

Buescher makes a good point about the no speed limit pit road during qualifying.

“It’s always been kind of comical to watch how difficult it is and see how easy it is to slide through the pit box and make a mistake,” he said. “When you’re not trying to participate in it, it’s a lot of fun to watch. But now that we’re in it, it’s a little stressful.”

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NASCAR America: Matt DiBenedetto on Indy success with small team

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Matt DiBenedetto has just three top-10 finishes in his three years of competing in the NASCAR Cup Series. But two of them have come this year in two of the biggest races in the sport.

DiBenedetto, who drives the No. 32 Ford for Go Fas Racing, finished ninth in the Daytona 500 in February and eighth in Sunday’s Brickyard 400.

DiBenedetto, who was also celebrating his 26th birthday, joined NASCAR America to discuss his run at Indy and what is considered a successful race for his team, which has 15 crew members.

“You’ve got to keep it in the perception of your versions of wins are a little bit different than everybody else’s version,” DiBenedetto said. “We look at it as who we’re racing around. I would say on a regular week where there’s not a ton of chaos like Indy was, a top 20 is a really good day. A top 25 is if we just do our job.”

Watch the video for the full segment.

Chase Elliott, AJ Allmendinger unveil Darlington throwback schemes

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Both Chase Elliott and AJ Allmendinger have revealed the paint schemes they’ll drive in the Sept. 3 Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway.

Elliott will use his No. 24 Chevrolet to pay tribute to the car his father, NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, drove in his first Cup start.

The light blue look was on his No. 9 car when he started in the Feb. 29, 1976 race at Rockingham Speedway.

The car was revealed on Facebook in the below video.

AJ Allmendinger will pay tribute to two-time Cup champion Terry Labonte with his No. 47 Chevrolet.

The car will resemble the No. 44 Piedmont Airlines Oldsmobile that Labonte drove in during the 198 Cup season when he competed for owner Billy Hagan.

NASCAR America: Felix Sabates: ‘I’m lucky to be here’ after near-death experience from illness last year

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For nearly a month last year Felix Sabates was at death’s door.

The fears were so great that Sabates might not wake up from a coma he spent 29 days in, Chip Ganassi bought a blue suit for the possibility he might have to attend his co-owner’s funeral.

But the 71-year-old made a full recovery through a rehab process that included learning to walk again.

NASCAR America’s Kyle Petty and Sabates have a special relationship. Petty drove the No. 42 car for Sabates’ SABCO Racing for eight years in the 1980s and 1990s, winning six of his eight Cup races for the millionaire owner from Cuba.

Sabates sat down with Petty to discuss the ordeal, which began in January 2016 when Sabates began feeling ill during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I came home and woke up the next morning and I (couldn’t) breath,” said Sabates, who drove himself to the hospital. “The minute they saw me I was in intensive care.”

Sabates was in the hospital for two and half weeks before he was released, but Sabates “should’ve know I wasn’t cured.”

The Chip Ganassi Racing co-owner returned to his usual grind until it caught up to him in August.

“My blood pressure was through the roof, my oxygen level was 55, which you should be dead then,” recalled Sabates, who has no memory of a three-month stretch. “They thought was I was brain-dead. They were pretty much going to disconnect me. So 4 o’clock in the morning, they took my tubes out.”

That’s when Sabates began the process of waking up.

“I’m lucky to be here,” said Sabates, who aside from being back at the track is also back to playing golf.

“I used to worry about little things,’ Sabates said. “Now I don’t even worry about big things.”

The full feature will air Sunday on Countdown to Green, which begins at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN before the Cup race at Pocono.

NASCAR America: Ryan Blaney glad Team Penske news is finally out in the open

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On Wednesday it was finally announced that Ryan Blaney would move from Wood Brothers Racing to Team Penske full-time next year in the Cup Series in the No. 12 Ford while Paul Menard will take over the No. 21 Ford.

NASCAR America’s Dave Burns caught up with Blaney on Thursday. Blaney was happy that his 2018 plans were finally public knowledge.

Blaney also acknowledged how a technical alliance between the two teams helped Wood Brothers Racing return to a competition level that allowed Blaney to get his first Cup win this season earlier this year.

“That was a big deal,” Blaney said. “That was getting us to where we could run a full-time season. That was really helpful not only to me but to (crew chief) Jeremy Bullins, will be coming with me to the 12 car.”

Blaney has been driving for Team Penske part-time in the Xfinity Series since 2012.

“It’s been nice to get the news and tell everybody finally about what we’re doing,” Blaney said. “But mainly we’re trying to finish this year out strong with the Wood Brothers, getting their 100th win, that’s really big. That’s on my bucket list for this year and getting as far as we can in the playoffs.”

The No. 21 team returns to Pocono Raceway this weekend, the site of Blaney’s first Cup win last month.

Watch the video for the full interview.