Monday, February 19, 2018
Sports

Buescher benefits from crash

DAYTONA BEACH — It turned into just a matter of survival.

James Buescher avoided the third major crash of the day on the final lap to capture Saturday's DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway and earn his first NASCAR Nationwide series victory.

"They all piled up in front of me, and we made it through," Buescher said. "It's hard to describe the feeling when you make it through the wreck and you're the only guy."

The 21-year-old maneuvered his No. 30 Chevrolet through an 11-car wreck in Turn 4. Buescher was 11th before the wreck broke out. Kyle and Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Joey Logano were among those involved.

That was the last in a series of wrecks, including one that took out pole-sitter Danica Patrick.

JR Motorsports teammate Cole Whitt nudged Patrick's rear bumper and sent her spinning. She veered inside then shot up the track into the outside wall. Her crew made repairs and she returned to finish 38th, 48 laps down.

Patrick vented her frustration on the radio with her team immediately after the wreck, then acknowledged after the race that she wanted an explanation.

"I don't think it's ever great when teammates come together," Patrick said. "So we'll have to figure out what happened and move forward."

Whitt said he didn't mean to wreck her, saying it was a result of the bumper-to-bumper style of racing at Daytona.

"Yeah, I think we'll be fine," Whitt said. "I wouldn't expect her to be happy about it. I wouldn't be happy about it, either."

Brad Keselowski, who wrecked in Friday's trucks race, had much better luck Saturday.

"The wreck was huge for us in the end," Keselowski said. "I feel like I won the lottery."

After reviewing video, NASCAR determined Keselowski finished ahead of Elliott Sadler, who finished third.

"It was normal Daytona," said Sadler, who owns the early points lead because both Buescher and Keselowski are running part-time and are ineligible for the points title. "It was all luck."

Even Buescher's car took light damage in a wreck, and along the way his best drafting partners, Justin Allgaier and Joe Nemechek, were taken out.

"We lost all of our track position," Buescher said. "I had to get back through there using everybody else's draft, but (with) no drafting partner."

FINAL PREP: The Fords of David Gilliland and defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne teamed up to post the fastest laps during final Sprint Cup practice. Gilliland topped the speed chart at 200.138 mph, and Bayne was second at 200.129. They were the only two drivers to post laps at 200 mph or higher amid temperatures that were more than 20 degrees cooler than the previous few days.

STARS OUT: Several music and television stars will be part of today's festivities. Lenny Kravitz will play a prerace concert, grand marshals Jane Lynch and Kate Upton will give the command to start the engines, Pat Monahan of pop group Train will sing the National Anthem and WWE wrestler John Cena will wave the green flag as honorary starter.

EAST BAY RACEWAY: Shane Stewart won for the second night in a row late Friday in 360 Sprints in Gibsonton.

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