Looks like Buescher is the playoff spoiler at the Texas home track

One of the first things Brad Keselowski did before buying into Jack Roach’s racing team was to check out the remaining years on the contract of Chris Bucher, the driver he inherited from his purchase.

He was delighted to learn that Buescher was closed. But it wasn’t long enough, in Kiselovsky’s mind.

“It kind of felt like it was a hidden free agent gem that hadn’t been properly discovered and felt that way for a few years,” Kiselovsky said. “First thing, was literally the first thing I did when I signed the papers… was to make an offer in front of him to give him a contract extension.

“I thought he was someone we could build around and get results.”

Buescher took rebranded RFK Racing’s first win last week at Bristol Motor Speedway, and Roush’s first point-push race win since Daytona in 2017. Both Buescher and Keselowski won a pair of qualifying races at Daytona in February.

It was also the first time in this form of NASCAR qualifying that drivers who were not eligible for the championship swept all three races of the first round. Now a native of Prosper, Texas, Boecher returns to his home state in hopes of playing the spoiler again.

Round two of qualifying opened Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway, with Boescher and Keselowski finishing eighth and ninth in May in the All-Star race. Buescher is pleased to be part of an active racing team.

“I’ve had really good colleagues over the years in different cup-level organizations, but no one has made such an effort as Brad Keselowski,” Buescher said. “He’s really excited about it. He’s putting in work, time and effort to be able to make this thing work, and we’ve seen that this year.

“For Brad to take on the role of ownership and believing in me early on meant a lot to me. This is a very big pat on the back when we don’t always have the results to show.”

Texas is very tough

Texas Motor Speedway has been on the playoffs since 2005, usually two annual stops for the Cup Series.

Texas has replaced the spring race for the All-Star race in the last two seasons, but the All-Star race will be in North Wilkesboro in North Carolina next season and the Texans will be in only one cup race for the first time since 2005.

The demise of the motorway can be linked to the 2017 repaving and remodeling at Turns 1 and 2 that reduced banking from 24 to 20 degrees. Scrolling became very difficult and NASCAR was looking for solutions to improve the product on the right track.

“I don’t like the racetrack and I think they kind of ruined it. I don’t have much fun,” NASCAR 2020 champ Chase Elliott said in Texas.

The race is worrying for the remaining 12 drivers on the field because the second round has so many variables. Texas was a tough track for teams, followed by Talladega Superspeedway and then the field would be cut by fours at Roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

“With anonymous Talladega and Roval, we’re looking at Texas as a place we can go up front, try to maximize our points and compete for the win,” said Denny Hamlin. “The passing was very difficult in the All-Star race, so I expect that to be the case as it has been for the past few years in Texas.

“Qualifying up front and having a smooth day on the track and on the pit will be key for us to have a chance.”

Possibilities and endings

Chase Elliott returned to the points lead as the match ground was reset for the second round. Austin Sendrick finished last in the 12 drivers’ field. …Christopher Bell finished seventh in the standings but driver Joe Gibbs Racing was the only first-round competitor to score three places in the top five. He was the points lead before the reset and the only driver to have a berth in round two ahead of Bristol. … Kyle Larson is FanDuel’s favorite to win Sunday in Texas.

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