Chris Buescher is NASCAR’s stuntman with rollover, fire this season


BROOKLYN, Mich. — Parents always want what is best for their child, but Chris Buescher’s parents want something else for him in this roller-coaster season.

While the RFK Racing driver has had some strong results, it’s his stuntman-like escapades that has gained the most attention this year.

He was the first driver to roll a Next Gen car, tumbling 4 1/2 times in the Coca-Cola 600.

He remained in his car last weekend at Indianapolis after it caught fire. He came back from losing two laps to finish 10th. 

“My parents sent me a text after that one,” Buescher said Saturday. “They said, ‘You might deserve hazard pay.’”

It has been that type of a season for Buescher, who also has missed a race after testing positive for COVID-19. Buescher enters Sunday’s Cup race at Michigan International Speedway (3 p.m. ET on USA Network) needing a win to make the playoffs.

He’s been strong on the road courses this season, but didn’t have much of a chance last week after his fire.

Buescher said white smoke came from the right side door when he entered pit road for a scheduled stop shortly before the end of the opening stage. 

Contact in the door area earlier in the race bent the exhaust pipes. The car’s fumes burned part of the door. 

“I was kind of putting up with it,” Buescher said. “When we hit pit road, I think just the slowing down and probably the (pipe’s) backfire, the flames coming out as we hit pit road, finally set it ablaze.”

Buescher said the smoke turned black inside the car as he went down pit road. He said he was a “split second” from exiting the car before the fire was extinguished. 

“We’re not quitters,” Buescher said. “We’re going to keep after it and get all we can every week.”

Buescher’s car wasn’t the only one to burn last weekend at Indy. Joey Logano also had a fire in his car at the end of the race.

“It seems like the same thing that happened to my car happened to Buescher’s car with the exhaust getting pushed back into the rocker and essentially melting the panels around there and then lighting the foam up inside the door,” Logano said Saturday at Michigan. “So, obviously, we need to look into that. Learning curves with the race car.’’

This isn’t the first time there has been a fire inside a car this year. Tyler Reddick had a similar situation during a test at Kansas in March. Reddick said his issue came from the exhaust making contact with the underbody or the rocker panels. It created a hole and sent debris and dust into his eyes. 

“It was pretty awful to breathe,” Reddick said. 

Asked about Buescher staying in his car through that and it being extinguished, Reddick said: “That’s a mentally tough guy.”

Buescher didn’t want to get out of the car last week for how strong it was.

“We’ve had three months now of really good speed, great improvements at RFK,” said Buescher, who has three top 10s in the last seven races. “We don’t have much to show for it. We keep talking about highlights that are not race wins even though we’ve been very competitive with it. 

“It’s tough. We can see it internally, where we’re at, but it’s hard for most race fans to see it when they’re looking at the results and we’re not winning races yet. I think the top 10 was a big show at Indy of what we were capable.”

COTA Cup starting lineup


Hendrick Motorsports driver William Byron, who has won two of the first five races of the season, will lead the Cup field to the green flag Sunday at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron will be joined on the front row of the starting lineup by Tyler Reddick, the only driver to win multiple races at road courses last year.

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Austin Cindric starts third and is joined in the second row by Jordan Taylor, who is filling in for the injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 Hendrick car.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

William Byron wins Cup pole at COTA


William Byron will start on the pole for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas.

Byron won the pole with a lap of 93.882 mph around the 3.41-mile road course Saturday. He becomes the first Cup driver to win a pole at four different road courses: Charlotte Roval (2019), Road America (2021), Indianapolis road course (2021) and COTA (2023).

MORE: COTA Cup starting lineup

Byron will be joined on the front row by Tyler Reddick, who had posted the fastest lap in Friday’s practice and fastest lap in the opening round of qualifying Saturday. Reddick qualified at 93.783 mph.

Austin Cindric (93.459 mph) qualified third. Former IMSA champion Jordan Taylor, substituting for an injured Chase Elliott in the No. 9 car for Hendrick Motorsports, qualified fourth with a lap of 93.174 mph. AJ Allmendinger (93.067) will start fifth.

Taylor’s performance is the best qualifying effort by a driver making their Cup debut since Boris Said started second in his Cup debut at Watkins Glen in 1999.

Ross Chastain, who won this event a year ago, qualified 12th. Former world champion Kimi Raikkonen qualified 22nd, former world champion Jenson Button qualified 24th, seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson qualified 31st and IndyCar driver Conor Daly qualified 35th.

Sunday Cup race at Circuit of the Americas: Start time, TV info, weather


Is this Toyota’s weekend?

Chevrolet won the first four races of the season. Ford won last weekend with Joey Logano at Atlanta. Is it Toyota’s turn to win its first Cup race of the season? Or does Chevrolet return to dominance?

Chevrolet drivers have won 11 of the past 12 Cup races on road courses. The exception was Christopher Bell‘s win for Toyota at the Charlotte Roval in last year’s playoffs. Chevrolets have won the two previous Cup races at COTA: Chase Elliott in 2021 and Ross Chastain in 2022.

Details for Sunday’s Cup race at Circuit of the Americas

(All times Eastern)

START: Brendan Hunt, who plays Coach Beard in “Ted Lasso” on Apple TV+, will give the command to start engines at 3:38 p.m. … The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:49 p.m.

PRERACE: Cup garage opens at 12:30 p.m. … Drivers meeting at 2:45 p.m. … Driver introductions at 3:05 p.m. … Invocation will be given by Sage Steele, ESPN broadcaster, at 3:30 p.m. … Jaime Camil, actor from “Schmigadoon” on Apple TV+, will perform the national anthem at 3:31 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 68 laps (231.88 miles) on the 3.41-mile, 20-turn road course.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends at Lap 15. Stage 2 ends at Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race at 3:30 p.m. Pre-race coverage begins at 2 p.m. on FS1 and moves to Fox at 3 p.m. … Performance Racing Network’s radio coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. and will also stream at; SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry the PRN broadcast.


FORECAST: Weather Underground – Mostly cloudy with a high of 80 degrees and a 2% chance of rain at the start of the race.

STARTING LINEUP: COTA Cup starting lineup

LAST YEAR: Ross Chastain scored his first career Cup win in a physical battle with AJ Allmendinger on the final lap. Alex Bowman finished second. Christopher Bell placed third.


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NASCAR Saturday schedule at Circuit of the Americas


Saturday will be a busy day at Circuit of the Americas, as all three national series are on the track.

Cup will qualify ahead of the Craftsman Truck and Xfinity Series races.

The forecast Saturday calls for sunny conditions and no chance of rain all day. The high is expected to be 69 degrees during Cup qualifying, 76 degrees at the start of the Truck race and 81 degrees for the start of the Xfinity race.

Zane Smith looks to win his second consecutive Truck race at the road course in Austin, Texas. AJ Allmendinger seeks his second consecutive Xfinity win at COTA.

Saturday, March 25

(All times Eastern)

Garage open

  • 8 a.m. – 1 p.m. — Cup Series
  • 10:30 a.m.  — Truck Series
  • 2 p.m. — Xfinity Series

Track activity

  • 11:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. — Cup qualifying (FS1)
  • 1:30 p.m. — Truck race (42 laps, 143 miles; FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)
  • 5 p.m. — Xfinity race (46 laps, 156 miles; FS1, Performance Racing Network, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)