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Buescher Wins Wild Nationwide Race At Daytona

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, February 25 2012

James Buescher won the Nationwide race at Daytona on Saturday. (File photo by Chris Graythen for Getty Images)

James Buescher emerged from a big wreck which took out the pack leaders on the final turn of the final lap and won the Drive4COPD 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday.

The final lap was the only lap that Buescher had led on the day. He was in 11th place when the wreck occurred.

It was his first NNS victory and it was a biggie.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Buescher said of the win. “They all piled up in front of me and we made it through. It’s hard to describe the feeling when you make it through the wreck and you’re the only guy – you don’t see anyone in front of you and you’re coming to the checkered flag. It’s pretty incredible and I’ll definitely never forget it.”

Elliott Sadler finished second and Brad Keselowski was third. Austin Dillon was fourth and Tayler Malsam was fifth.

Danica Patrick started the race from the pole and held the lead for the first two laps. She was then swallowed up by the pack, where she ran for the next 46 laps.

On lap 49, she was tapped from behind by her JR Motorsports teammate, Cole Whitt, and she spun up into the outside wall. She hit hard, bounced off and limped the car to the pits. After her crew had worked on the car for several minutes, they took it to the garages and attacked the front end.

An unhappy Patrick unleashed a short profanity-laced tirade on her teammate over the two-way radio after the wreck.

“What the [expletive],” she yelled over her team radio. “He [expletive] hit me.”

She would return to the track, but 49 laps off the pace.

The wreck occurred with 18 laps to go. It started up near the front and spread through the middle of the pack. Fourteen cars were involved. The race went yellow and then the red flag waved as track crews attempted to fix a broken portion of the SAFER barrier.

Kurt Busch had just passed Tony Stewart and was leading when the yellow came out after the wreck and restarted the race with the lead with eight laps to go.  Behind him were Stewart and Kyle Busch.

Busch had the lead with six laps to go when another big wreck occurred. This one involved eight cars.

Busch again led the field on the restart, which came with three laps to go. Right behind him in the pack, and in fourth place, was Kyle Busch. Next to Kurt on the front row was Stewart, who had Elliott Sadler  behind him.

The Busch brothers got the best jump and went low. At the white flag, they had a four-car lead over Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne.

As the front-runners headed into Turn 4 on the final lap, a big wreck at the front took out the Busch brothers, Stewart, Bayne and Logano among others.

“I don’t know where to start,” Kyle Busch said. “I don’t know what happened, but great race car. Phenomenal job by the guys. We kind of battled back from being behind much of the day. Ran up front for much of the day too, so we were kind of back and forth a little bit. Just a great race pushing with Kurt (Busch) and working with him an awful lot and being able to get up there. I thought we had the race won and then those guys were coming on the top and I’m like, ‘Alright, let’s see where we settle in here.’ I thought when they all crashed up high that I was clear.

“I shot low – as low as I could and then somebody tagged me in the back and just hooked me dead right. It was a really, really hard hit and then there was a few more after that. It just seemed like they kept coming. I swore when they all went up high – I was the leader for a second and I was like, ‘I won this thing, it’s over – I can see the checkered flag.’

“Then within a split second of that I was in the fence and wrecked. I can’t say enough about Monster Energy and everybody there – all the guys that built this thing. It was a fast Camry. It was fun.”

Buescher, who is driving for Turner Motorsports in both the Nationwide and Camping World Truck series this season, led 10 laps before finishing 17th in Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250. He now has two wins at the “World Center of Racing” with the previous triumph coming in the 2009 ARCA season opener.

“I can’t think of another race track that I would rather this (win) be at,” Buescher said. “Daytona is historical – everybody knows that – and every driver dreams of winning here. My goal as a young driver was to be able to race at Daytona in NASCAR and I’ve done that several times, but now I’ve finally won here. I don’t know how to put it into words.”

The win was an emotional one for Buescher’s crew chief Trent Owens.

“This is my first win as a crew chief in Daytona,” Owens said. “It’s bigger than life for me. I don’t think I’ve missed a July Daytona race since I was eight years old or so. This was a really big deal for me.”

There were a record 38 lead changes by a record 16 different drivers (previous records were 35 and 12, respectively) and Chevrolet has now won the series season-opener 22 times in the last 26 races.

| , RacinToday.com Saturday, February 25 2012
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