While it can’t top Carl Edwards announcing he won’t drive this year, one of the more surprising things that took place this offseason was the news that Chris Buescher, a Ford driver, would be loaned to JTG Daugherty, a Chevrolet team.
“At first sight, it certainly gave us second thoughts,” admitted Raj Nair, executive vice president for Global Product Development and Chief Technical Officer for Ford. “As we thought about it … this is the right thing to do.”
Dave Pericak, Global Director for Ford Performance, said there wasn’t room for Buescher, a Roush Fenway Racing driver, with another Ford team for this season.
Roush Fenway Racing downsized to two teams and both were set with sponsorship for Trevor Bayne and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Richard Petty Motorsports downsized to one team and that car was set with sponsorship for Aric Almirola. Team Penske was not expanding. The Wood Brothers have Ryan Blaney in the car. Stewart-Haas Racing, which joins Ford this year, had no room. Front Row Motorsports, where Buescher was loaned to last year and made NASCAR’s playoffs after his Pocono win, also wasn’t a viable option and will have David Ragan and Landon Cassill as its drivers.
That meant the 24-year-old Buescher would need to run with another manufacturer if he was to race in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series this season. Roush loaned Buescher and a charter to JTG Daugherty to ensure Buescher is in every race.
“If you look at where we are in our transition and our plans going forward, we just didn’t have a seat for him and it’s not right to ask him to sit and not drive,” Pericak told NBC Sports. “That’s just not right. Knowing he wants to be a Ford guy, knowing we want him to be a Ford guy, we thought there might have been a unique solution to keeping him basically in the Ford family. This is the right thing for him.”