One of the best ways to avoid the "big one" at Daytona is to stay out front. That's exactly what 18-year-old James Buescher did much of the way to win the ARCA RE/MAX Series Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 Saturday afternoon at Daytona Int'l Speedway.
Buescher, who led the final 44 laps in the Kevin Cywinski-owned Wolfpack Toyota, held off NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Joey Logano in a one-lap shoot-out to earn the biggest victory of his career.
"We'd been getting pretty good restarts all night," said Buescher. "Just pulling away from the pack, the car was pretty good and I knew Joey [Logano] was going to try to get me in turn three because that is what he had been trying to do all night. I told my spotter not to be quiet the entire last lap and he didn't, so he really helped me through it. Daytona is on top of everyone's list so this means a lot."
Buescher, who started from the tail-end because of unapproved adjustments, also steered his way through several multi-car wrecks en route to the front.
"Starting from the back, we did what we had to do to get there. These guys on this crew rebuilt the whole suspension last night. ARCA didn't like what we had under there, but I think it made the car faster anyway."
In all, there were six cautions for 47 laps that eliminated a wide variety of contenders including defending winner Michael Annett, Matt Carter, 1999 series champion Bill Baird and Tom Hessert to name a few.
The race was also red flagged for 19 minutes during the final caution, which involved Patrick Sheltra, Larry Hollenbeck and Frank Kimmel. Both Sheltra and Hollenbeck were transported, conscious and alert, to a local hospital for further evaluation while Kimmel finished the race in 11th, the last car on the lead lap. The red flag situation set up the last lap dash to the checkered flag.
Bobby Gerhart, following a one-car incident, was also transported, conscious and alert, to a local hospital. Gerhart was evaluated and released.
Logano, in the Venturini Motorsports Toyota, finished second, one length away from Buescher, and then hopped in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car to race in the Budweiser Shootout.
Justin Lofton, who earned the Menards Pole Award presented by Ansell on Friday, finished third after leading the first 35 laps in the Lofton Cattle Toyota.
"I was hoping for the 09 car [John Wes Townley] to be a little stronger behind me to give me some momentum and help push me past Joey [Logano]," Lofton said.
John Wes Townley, in the Zaxby's Ford, finished fourth in a back-up car with Ken Weaver, in the 1-800-4-A-Phone/Tricolor Dodge, finishing fifth. Weaver, making his series return after a two-year hiatus, also earned the CGS Imaging Hard Charger Award for advancing the most positions.
Ed Kennedy, in the Thunder 2-Daytona Lagoon Chevrolet, earned a career-best sixth place finish as did rookies' Parker Kligerman and Tim George, Jr., who finished seventh and eighth respectively. George also earned the Highest Finishing Rookie Award. Under-funded independents' Darrell Basham and Norm Benning finished ninth and tenth.
The event served as a prelude to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Budweiser Shootout.
Buescher also earned the Aaron's Lap Leader Award for leading the most laps.
On Tuesday, race fans can ask Buescher about the 2009 Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 via a live audio chat on arcaracing.com. The segment, titled 30 at 30, will debut on Tuesday, February 10th at 3:30 p.m. ET on arcaracing.com.
The next event on the ARCA RE/MAX Series schedule is at Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana on Sunday, April 5th. For more information on the ARCA RE/MAX Series, visit www.arcaracing.com.