Sports

Fuel strategy pays off for Buescher in Xfinity race at Dover

Dover, DE (SportsNetwork.com) - Chris Buescher gambled on fuel late in the race and then grabbed the lead from his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, Darrell Wallace Jr., in the closing laps to win Saturday's Buckle Up 200 Xfinity Series race at Dover International Speedway.

Buescher, the current leader in the Xfinity point standings, drove the final 98 laps around this one-mile, concrete-surfaced track without pitting. He made his last pit stop on lap 103.

With nine laps to go, Buescher and Wallace, the pole sitter, bumped into each other while they were battling for the lead, causing Wallace to run wide up the track. That allowed Buescher to slip by him and take the top spot for good.

"That was tough because I was sitting there and (Wallace) was saving a lot more fuel than I was because he was shorter (on a fuel run)," Buescher said. "I was able to run into the corner harder, but I couldn't do anything with the track being pretty narrow and two guys racing for the win."

Wallace sustained damage to his left-front fender due to his contact with Buescher. Several laps later, Wallace was forced to pit for a flat tire caused by the fender damage. He was also penalized for a pit-road commitment line violation.

"I was saving fuel there and Chris (Buescher) just ran over me and he ends up winning," a disappointed Wallace said after the race. "We just got run over. It sucks that it was my teammate."

Wallace, a rookie in the series this year, ended up finishing three laps down in 17th place. He had led a total of 52 laps, including the first 41.

"I would say I am happy Roush won, but I am not," he said.

Buescher conserved enough fuel to cross the finish line 11.5 seconds ahead of his closest competitor, Matt Kenseth.

"I was clutching it a lot those last 15 laps, trying to save all the fuel we had there and get all we could," Buescher said. "I felt we were still keeping a pretty consistent pace, and we were able to get the lead there. It was a matter of setting our own pace and holding on."

It was Buescher's third career Xfinity victory, including his second this season. He won two weeks ago at Iowa.

Kenseth had fallen one lap behind earlier in the race when he pitted unexpectedly for a loose wheel.

"We got behind early, but we were able to make that up by staying out one time because we only had one set of tires left and sort of got back on sequence," Kenseth said. "I really thought we were going to win. I didn't think anybody had run that many laps. We ran as hard as we could to make up some spots."

Regan Smith's third-place finish earned him a $100,000 bonus for being the highest-finisher among the four drivers who were eligible for the first race in this year's Xfinity "Dash 4 Cash" bonus program. Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez and Wallace also had eligibility for the cash award. Dillon placed eighth and Suarez 19th.

"We'll take some of Xfinity's money as a consolation prize, but I want a win so freaking bad," said Smith, who is seeking his first victory of the season.

The four drivers who qualified for the next round of the Dash 4 Cash program, the July 25 race at Indianapolis, are Smith, Buescher, Chase Elliott (finished sixth) and Brendan Gaughan (seventh).

Ty Dillon's elder brother, a Sprint Cup Series regular and winner of last weekend's race at Charlotte, finished fourth. Kasey Kahne was fifth.

Erik Jones, who turned 19 years old on Saturday, led the most laps with 70, but Jones was penalized for speeding on pit road with 13 laps left. He finished ninth.

With the win, Buescher increased his lead in the standings to 15 points over Ty Dillon. Elliott, the defending series champion, is now 37 points behind the leader.