(Cover Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
By Adam Carabine
In case you missed it, StatChat is counting down the days ‘til the 2023 Daytona 500. Every two days, we will have a new article featuring one of the 36 charters of 2022.
21st Place – Chris Buescher – 726 pts
ROUSH FENWAY KESELOWSKI RACING – FORD
1 Race Missed due to Covid – The return of the NASCAR Cup Series to WWT-Gateway this year was missing one familiar face, as Chris Buescher had tested positive for Covid-19. Zane Smith was tapped to fill in (and finished with an admirable P17), and Buescher returned the following week in Sonoma. Note that Buescher’s 726 points are only based on the 35 races he completed.
194 Laps Led in 2022 – Making him Top-15 of the Cup Series charters, Chris Buescher led 194 laps, or 2.05% of all laps in 2022. Buescher’s season was filled with ups and downs, which could partially be blamed on the new co-owner, Brad Keselowski coming into the fold. Not to say Keselowski made things worse, but this was clearly meant to be a year of growth, while simultaneously learning as much as possible about the new Next-Gen car. Buescher’s 194 laps led were a bright point for the driver of the No. 17 Ford.
223 Races Between Victories for Buescher – In what had become somewhat of a strange playoffs, where non-playoff drivers were winning everywhere, Chris Buescher won the Bristol Night Race in 2022. This brought his Cup Series win total up to two. His only other win had happened 223 races prior, in 2016, when he won what was then called the Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway. Buescher is hoping some changes in ownership and some positive momentum can have that number be quite a bit smaller next time he wins.
-323 Pass Differential in 2022 – The only driver/charter that had a worse pass differential (number of passes you make under green minus the number of times you’re passed under green) was Cole Custer. Neither of the two are names you’d expect to see at the bottom of this list. It’s crazy to think that Buescher scored a huge win at a difficult track in Bristol, yet was one of the worst passers in the field all season. The two stats don’t seem to coincide. If he cleans this up, though, Buescher could be a much bigger threat to make the playoffs.
41 Stage Points Scored in 2022 – Stage points are not the be-all and end-all in NASCAR, so they’re not necessarily indicative of success. They are interesting to look at, as it points to strategy calls made by the team. Some teams are okay with getting one or two stage points, because hey, every point matters. Other teams feel that’s not worth it and might pit earlier to jump the stage and try for better track position (which could then lead to a better overall finish). Buescher’s 41 stage points in 2022 point to a team that either was not often running in the Top-10, or a team that just didn’t prioritize stage points.
Coming into 2022, Chris Buescher had signed an extension into 2024, so he will remain in the No. 17 car for the next two years. Alongside teammate and co-owner Brad Keselowski, the two will hope to keep growing their program together.