DOVER — Chris Buescher led for just a fraction of the race and went 98 laps without a fuel change. But it was enough, as the Xfinity Series points leader claimed his second win of the season Saturday.
Buescher finished first in the Buckle Up 200 at Dover International Speedway, with Matt Kenseth and Regan Smith in second and third. For Buescher, it took some shrewd driving to be the first to cross the finish line.
“You never know how much we really need to save,” he said of the gas. “But we saved quite a bit there at the end, and that whole run, really we were just trying to be easy on the throttle and then toward the end of the run, we started having to clutch it and really just let it coast at least half of the straightaway, almost three-quarters of it, which is really tough to do.
“I just felt like we were going so slow, and it’s hard to convince yourself to do it, but we made it to the end, had just a little bit left to do the burnout there and we got ourselves another win this year.”
Slow or not, it was enough.
After easing up toward the end to save fuel, Buescher finished about 11.5 seconds ahead of Kenseth.
Buescher snatched the lead from fellow Roush Fenway Racing driver Darrell Wallace Jr., who had the pole position, on lap 191. Contact between the two damaged Wallace’s car and forced him to make a pit stop due to a flat tire.
Wallace expressed frustration afterward, although a calm Buescher said he had not had any prior run-ins with Wallace. Team owner Jack Roush said he would have to help mediate a potential conflict.
“A team owner has no worse horror than to have two competitive programs be in a position to win the race and have them have contact with one another and have one of them not be able to finish in the position where he was otherwise entitled,” Roush said.
Wallace, who led for 52 laps, finished 17th.
Buescher was able to take the lead thanks in part to the bad fortune of Erik Jones. Jones led for a race-high 70 laps, but what looked to be the perfect 19th birthday present evaporated almost immediately with less than 20 laps to go.
Jones lost the lead and was penalized for speeding in pit row. He ended up in ninth place.
Third-place finisher Regan Smith may not have taken home the Miles the Monster trophy, but he did pocket a cool $100,000. As one of the top four eligible finishers at the Hisense 300 in Charlotte, N.C., the week before, he entered Saturday’s race knowing he’d have a chance to win big even if he didn’t claim the top spot.
By finishing higher than the other three qualifiers, he earned the first $100,000 Dash 4 Cash prize.
“Certainly want to take as much of (Xfinity’s) money as we can,” he said with a smile after the race.
He’ll be eligible for another $100k at the Lilly Diabetes 250 in Indianapolis in July.
Should Smith finish highest among all eligible cash-chasers in Indianapolis and at the Food City 300 in Bristol, Tenn., he can take home $1 million by claiming first place at the VFW Sport Clips Help A Hero 200 in Darlington, S.C.
He said he felt shakier about Dover any of the other three tracks, but clearly he had little to worry about.
Wallace had a chance to earn the cash Saturday, but his collision with Buescher ended any hope he had of claiming the prize.
The caution flag came out four times during the race, most notably for a three-car accident on lap 64.
Despite the disagreement between teammates, it was a very good day for Buescher, the cap of what’s been a solid month of racing for him. He earned his first victory of the year two weeks before in Iowa and finished sixth in Talladega, Ala.
He increased his lead from four points to 15 with the victory at Dover.
Second place in the Xfinity Series standings is Ty Dillon, who came in eighth Saturday. Chase Elliott remains third, while Smith jumped Wallace for fourth overall.
Seaford native CJ Faison, making his first appearance in an Xfinity Series competition, finished 23rd.
The Xfinity Series moves to Michigan on June 13.