The Camping World Truck Series champion, James Buescher, was spectacular at times last year on his way to the title with a series high four victories. Once again driving for Turner Scott Motorsports, the 23 year old Texan is going at the championship with a tact not unlike his career … and it appears to be working.
A true veteran of NASCAR, 37 year old Matt Crafton from California leads the series point standings with a fairly comfortable 49 point advantage after 13 events and nine races left on the schedule. Buescher is second but has company with a couple 21 year olds right behind him. Third place Virginian Jeb Burton is only four points behind Beuscher with North Carolinian Ty Dillon just another five points back. Also from North Carolina, Timothy Peters, who’s turning 33 this week, rounds out the top five 14 points behind Dillon. Buescher has his work cut out for him if he wants to repeat this season.
Worked his way up to the top
Not that it was easy in 2012. Sweating it out, Buescher won the championship holding off Peters by a mere six markers, after not finishing in the Top 10 over the final three races of the year. Peters was the hottest driver at season’s end with six straight Top 10s to finish out the year.
Buescher has shown improvement every year he was in Trucks, going from just one race in 2008 to 14th overall in 2009 and 11th in 2010. 2011 was a breakthrough season for James as he garnered an amazing 19 Top 10s (series high) in 25 events. Even though he hadn’t won a race, Buescher finished third overall in the Truck standings with the best finishing average in the series. In an interesting side note, at the second race of the season, Buescher failed to qualify for Phoenix – if he had qualified and had an average finish, he would have won the championship. Unquestionably, he had become a legitimate title contender.
This season has been a battle
Buescher’s #31 Chevrolet had a slow start in 2013 with no Top 10s through the first three races of the season – certainly not the way to defend your title. Still, he was able to grab a pole and a sixth at Kansas and then another sixth at Charlotte to climb back into the title hunt. Yet, the team was struggling with qualifying plus they were having too many finishes in the bottom half of races. Then at Michigan, Buescher qualified on the second row and went on to win the race which helped put his #31 third in the points battle. A steady if unpretentious seventh at Bristol brought the Turner Scott Chevy Silverado its current second place spot in the standings.
There’s still a long way to go with nine races left and this team’s steady rise - similar to Buescher's career - to the top has been impressive. Although just 23, James Buescher is a veteran with this being his sixth season in Trucks, so the champ knows what it takes to win. He will need to continue the climb up as Crafton has shown an incredible knack for Top 10s – Matt has never been outside the Top 10 all season.
Nevertheless, Buescher hasn’t lost focus and has his eyes set on another title when he said after Bristol,
“We know what lies ahead of us in this championship hunt. We’ll continue to work hard at our goal of bringing home the championship.”
This is unmistakably apparent as the #31 driver knows only way to go ... and that's up.
Sources: Racing Reference, NASCAR