BROOKLYN, Mich. — The first half of the NASCAR truck series season didn’t go well for defending champ James Buescher.
Winless in the season’s first 11 races, Buescher was eighth in the points standings entering Saturday’s Michigan National Guard 200 at Michigan International Speedway. His two most recent finishes were his worst: a 19th at Eldora and 21st at Pocono.
But Buescher took the first step toward turning things around, edging Kyle Busch and Ty Dillon to take the Michigan race. The victory moved him from fifth to third in the standings, 52 points behind leader Matt Crafton, who finished ninth. Buescher is just one point behind pole-winner Jeb Burton (who finished 10th) for second.
“It’s a good way to start that turnaround,” said Buescher, who has five career victories. “It’s no secret that hasn’t been the season that we were expecting. We’re coming off two pretty terrible races. So this is definitely good for our momentum.”
Buescher didn’t lead until the race’s final four laps. He got past Busch on a re-start on Lap 195 and pulled away at the end when Busch and Dillon dueled for the second spot. Busch beat Dillon by inches to the finish line.
“I stayed committed, stayed on the throttle and came out the other end ahead,” said Buescher, who said winning was especially enjoyable because his 3-week-old son, Stetson, was there.
Busch said was surprised to see Buescher go past him on the restart.
“I thought if I got outfront, I could hold everybody off, because it was hard to pass,” said Busch.
Joey Logano finished fourth and Miguel Paludo was fifth. The biggest points loser was rookie Ryan Blaney, who dropped from third to eighth after crashing on the first lap. The wreck was caused by Darrell Wallace Jr., who ran down on Blaney and forced him onto the apron and into the inside wall. Wallace apologized to Blaney after the race.