James Buescher Battles ARCA Warriors for USA Int’l Victory
16-Year-Old Wins in Career-First Start
James Buescher climbs from his #32 machine as a first-time ARCA winner. (B. Costanzo Photos)
Two days shy of his 17th birthday, James Buescher, in his career first ARCA RE/MAX Series start, steered his way into the history books with a stunning victory in the Construct Corps-Palm Beach Grading 250 Saturday night at USA Int’l Speedway in Lakeland, Florida.
The Plano, Texas driver, after dodging several bullets, out-dueled rookie Bryan Clauson in the closing laps to score the thrilling victory for his Country Joe Racing team and the near capacity crowd on hand for the inaugural event.
“What a great night,” said Buescher in victory lane. “We got up front early and stayed up front. I just want to thank all these guys at Country Joe Racing, and my family. They all made this happen. What a great birthday present; we just had a really good night.”
Buescher, in the Mercedes Homes-Red Line Oil Dodge, raced underneath Clauson 11 laps from the finish, and then held off the hungry pack through a green-white-checker finish. Clauson, in a Chip Ganassi Racing Memorex-sponsored Dodge, finished two lengths away in second after leading 61 laps. It was also Clauson’s career-first series start.
“James drove a great race,” said Clauson, who battled back from an earlier race incident. “Our tires were just used up. We stretched our last run 125 laps, so we were really slipping and sliding out there. But what a great night overall. I want to thank Ganassi Racing and Memorex for the opportunity; I think we’ll be back this year for five to eight more ARCA races.”
Wildwood, Florida driver Wayne Anderson, in the McDowell Construction-Airframe Int’l Dodge, gave the locals something to cheer about with a career-best third place finish.
“Wow, what a night,” said Anderson. “It was like bumper cars out there all night; I think we hit everything but the pace car. This is such a neat little racetrack. This is where this series belongs, at places like this. I really hope ARCA comes back.”
Anderson wasn’t the only driver who landed against another machine as 18 cautions for a variety of thrills and spills shook the field up constantly throughout the 250 lap race, which was extended three laps to accommodate the ARCA-mandated green flag finish. There were no injuries, but plenty of sparks to continually light up the southern skies.
Justin Allgaier, in the Hoosier Midwest-AG Tech-Trashman-USAF Chevrolet, raced his way from 19th to fourth in the final running order ahead of Brian Keselowski, who finished fifth in the Holloway-Dusty’s Collision Dodge after leading 35 laps. As a result of Allgaier’s solid effort, the Springfield, Illinois driver is tied with Frank Kimmel for the championship points lead headed to Nashville Superspeedway for event number three of the 23 race schedule.
ARCA Pole Award winner Bobby Santos III, in the Bill Davis Racing Toyota, was impressive early leading the first 116 laps before getting tangled up with Patrick Sheltra on a restart, an incident that also collected Billy Venturini and Clauson. All but Santos were able to return to competition. The occasion marked the career-first Pole Award for Toyota in ARCA RE/MAX Series competition as well as the first time a Toyota led laps in RE/MAX Series competition.
Apopka, Florida driver Tim Russell finished sixth in the Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters-Eagle Creek Aviation Dodge with Kimmel, in the Tri-State Motorsports-Pork Ford,
trailing in seventh. Kimmel, who started 25th, was also awarded the Hoosier Tire Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions. Ellenton, Florida driver John Jackson, who led seven laps, finished eighth in the Fixatire-James Carter Attorney Chevrolet. Justin South, in the HD Supply Chevrolet, finished ninth with Stuart, Florida driver Bryan Silas, in the Nortrax-Holland Pump Chevrolet, trailing in 10th.
The next event for the ARCA RE/MAX Series will be the Nashville ARCA 150 at Nashville Superspeedway on April 7th.
Buescher crosses beneath the checkered flag in front of a packed house at Lakeland.