Chris Buescher, in the No. 17 Roulo Brothers-prepared David Ragan Fan Club Ford, earned his second ARCA Racing Series presented by RE/MAX and Menards victory of his career Sunday afternoon at Toledo Speedway, winning the Northwest Ohio Ford Dealers 200.
The 17-year-old driver raced from the 23rd starting position into contention, taking the lead for good on lap 173 of the 200-lap race when Joey Coulter, who was leading at the time, slowed on the track as a result of a flat right-front tire.
Once in front, Buescher held off a spirited challenge from championship contender Craig Goess to earn his second win at Toledo in 2010.
"It was nice to come back to Toledo," Buescher said from Victory Lane. "We got our first win here in the spring. We've had races where we've been really competitive but had some bad luck; so we were just really happy to pull it off today. There were a lot of guys out there that were having tire issues and we're glad to be one that wasn't. I'm really starting to come around to this place. I like it a little more now."
Goess, in the No. 81 Greenville Toyota of North Carolina Toyota, battled back from an early-race skirmish to finish second, just two lengths (.2694 seconds) behind Buescher at the checkered flag.
"It was a good day for us," said Goess. "I was a little bit disappointed because we were catching the leader before that last caution. We were about two-tenths of a second a lap faster. I feel like we could have definitely won if we didn't have that last caution but those things happen; that's part of racing. We were able to finish ahead of the people that are in the points race with us, so overall it was a good day."
Goess actually caught Buescher inside of 10 laps from the finish and got within a few feet of the eventual winner's back bumper when the leaders took the white flag. However, the lapped car of Bryan Silas caught Goess's left rear quarter panel in turn one, nearly turning Goess. By the time Goess gathered up his Eddie Sharp Racing-prepared car, Buescher had the cushion he needed.
With just three races remaining, Goess is now just five points behind point leader Patrick Sheltra, who finished third in the No. 60 PatrickSheltra.com-Ferguson Pipe Dodge.
"This is a brand new car we brought here," said Sheltra. "The guys put it together last week in about four days. We came here and really didn't have enough practice - it got rained out. We started on the pole and I was a little worried about it. We just had to hang in there all day and work on it as we went. We finally got good enough to run in the top-five, and we came in there in the end and took two right side tires. That helped us come and get the third place finish. I wish we would have had a little bit better run but the left rear (tire) just gave up on us."
Justin Marks, in the No. 32 Construct Corps Dodge, battled back from a lap down to finish fourth, the last car on the lead lap.
Coulter, despite being two laps down from the unscheduled pitstop to change tires, still finished fifth in the No. 16 Darrell Gwynn Foundation-Rip It Energy Fuel-Tempest Cycles Chevrolet after leading 34 laps.
Menards Pole Qualifying presented by Ansell was rained out the day before so series officials lined up the field by current car owner points. Although Sheltra and Tom Hessert were tied in points heading into the Toledo race, Sheltra earned the pole over Hessert by having a better average finish - 7.5 to Hessert's 7.6875.
Sheltra led the first three laps but started to fall back early on with handling issues as Hessert took control of the lead on the fourth circuit. Hessert, in the No. 77 Cherry Hill Classic Cars Dodge, led 133 laps overall before a broken sway bar caused him to lose four laps on pit road for repairs. Despite the ill-handling car, Hessert still finished seventh, keeping the Cherry Hill, New Jersey driver third in the championship points, just 15 markers behind leader Sheltra.
Nine-time Toledo winner Frank Kimmel, who led two laps, raced in second position much of the way right behind Hessert before Kimmel's rear-end gear failed, causing the Clarksville, Indiana driver to lose 78 laps behind the wall for repairs. Kimmel eventually came back to finish 21st but lost major ground in the championship battle. Kimmel is still fourth in points, but trails the leader by 140 points headed into the next event on tour - the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA Fall Classic next Saturday night, September 18 under the lights at Salem Speedway.
Just four cautions for 25 laps slowed the event while five drivers traded the lead six times.