Buescher hangs on to win Nationwide at Mid-Ohio

Published on NewsOK Modified: August 16, 2014 at 6:27 pm •  Published: August 16, 2014
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LEXINGTON, Ohio (AP) — As the laps dwindled, Chris Buescher's anxiety rose.

The 21-year-old rookie was leading the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course — gunning for his first victory — but was running out of fuel.

"I was really focusing on taking deep breaths at that point," Buescher said about the final laps before he hung on to capture the Nationwide Children's Hospital 200 on Saturday for his first victory. "I found myself on every straightaway just telling myself to relax a little bit."

Buescher took the lead on the 68th of 90 laps and sipped fuel the rest of the way to hold off Regan Smith and Brian Scott.

Smith, in particular, was waiting for Buescher to run out of gas.

"I was surprised that he made it," he said. "I didn't have much more for him there at the end. I was sitting there watching him, thinking at any point he was going to run out."

Buescher, driving the Roush Fenway Racing Ford sponsored by — fittingly — Nationwide Children's Hospital in nearby Columbus, took the lead from Brendan Gaughan and weathered a restart to hold on the rest of the way.

"We do have a fuel-pressure gauge in the car and I think it was with two (laps) to go it started flashing at me," Buescher said. "On certain areas of the track, (the car) was just starving for fuel. I spent the last lap just kind of shaking (the car) back and forth a little bit to make sure we got all the fuel we could into the pickup. It was nerve wracking to say the least."

In the end he had enough left over to make a celebratory run — in the wrong direction — down the home straight after the rest of the field had left the track.

"It was cool to be able to pull it off and to have plenty left over for a good burnout at the end," Buescher said with a grin.

Crew chief Scott Graves had no choice but to keep Buescher on the track, even as his fuel evaporated. Buescher went the final 38 laps without topping off his tank.

"This isn't the first time this year," Graves said of Buescher's ability to make his gas last. "We did it at Loudon as well and surprised a lot of people (while finishing fifth). He's quickly gaining the reputation as a fuel-saver, for sure."

The victory was Buescher's first in 30 NASCAR Nationwide Series races, also representing his eighth top-10 finish in 2014.

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