Buescher On Kansas Photo Finish: ‘Second Hurts’


Chris Buescher (Nigel Kinrade/NKP photo)

KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Chris Buescher went from the thrill of victory to the agony of defeat in a span of about 30 seconds following the checkered flag Sunday night at Kansas Speedway.

As he and Kyle Larson crossed the line in a finish that was too close to call live, NASCAR timing and scoring put Buescher as the winner by a scant one-thousandth (.001) of a second.

Buescher’s RFK Racing crew began celebrating atop the pit wall, and then the stop-motion video from the start-finish line camera came in as officials underwent a rapid review of the spectacular ending.

The film showed an exact reversal of what the scoring monitors initially showed – that it was, in fact, Larson who had won the AdventHealth 400 by that same .001-second margin.

In that instant, all the wind evaporated out of Buescher’s sails, and what would have been a likely ticket to the NASCAR Cup Series playoffs instead turned into a heartbreaking runner-up result.

At first, the Prosper, Texas, native was speechless when he climbed from his No. 17 Castrol Ford Mustang Dark Horse on pit road. He was shown a quick picture of the finishing margin before speaking to FS1.

“I don’t really know what to say right now,” Buescher lamented. “I sure couldn’t see it in the picture I saw. It sucks to be that close. It was a great finish though. We had a really strong day with a lot of speed in our Castrol Edge Ford Mustang and we really needed that. We just needed a win more.

“I thought we had that one. We had a lot of speed firing off; we were really good all day and I’m really proud of that,” he added. “We had good strategy to get us back up there and I tried to cover what I could … but I gave him half a lane too much, I guess.

“It was a good hard race there down to the line, but it hurts to miss out like that.”

As Buescher processed the final lap, his emotions from being on the losing end of the closest finish in Cup Series history became evident. There was disappointment, frustration, and confusion all mixed into one.

“It sucks to celebrate on the backstretch, and then pull up to the front straightaway and be told ‘No, you didn’t win,’” Buescher said. “I don’t know how everything transpired honestly. It sucks in a lot of ways.

“Second hurts, a whole lot worse than third.”

Sunday marked Buescher’s sixth top-10 finish in 12 races this season, as well as his second runner-up after also finishing as the bridesmaid at Arizona’s Phoenix Raceway in March.

He’s 11th in the regular season standings and 13th on the provisional playoff grid, 33 points ahead of the cut line, but Buescher wants the security that a visit to victory lane would give his postseason hopes in the present-day “win and you’re in” format used in NASCAR’s top three series.

“To be that close a couple of times this year now and not be able to get the win, it’s tough,” he admitted. “Our speed is great, and we did a good job today and made a good recovery from the end of stage two [when a pit-road penalty sent him to the back of the field], but we don’t have a trophy right now and that’s what you always want.”

In total, RFK Racing saw Buescher contend for the win and team co-owner Brad Keselowski finish 11th, a sign of the organization’s rising competitiveness.

But neither of those are the team’s ultimate goal, and Buescher knows that going forward.

“Speed is good, but wins are better,” said Buescher. “We need to be in that situation again and need to get some trophies and checkered flags so we can put ourselves in a much better spot.”

Buescher’s next chance at a Cup Series victory will come on Sunday, May 12 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, with the running of the Goodyear 400 during NASCAR’s annual throwback weekend.

Coverage of the event is slated for 3 p.m. ET, live on FS1, the Motor Racing Network, and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.

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About Jacob Seelman

Jacob Seelman is Motorsports Hotspot’s News Editor and Race Face Digital’s Director of Content, as well as a veteran of more than a decade in the racing industry as a professional, though he’s spent his entire life in the garage and pit area.