Buescher wins NASCAR Xfinity Series title at Homestead
HOMESTEAD, FLA. >> Chris Buescher won the Xfinity Series championship, helping offset the sting of an unsatisfying season in Sprint Cup for Roush Fenway Racing.
The 23-year-old Buescher won the title by finishing 11th Saturday in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, bringing home a fifth second-tier series crown for team owner Jack Roush.
Buescher was the last driver on the lead lap and finished 15.9 seconds behind race winner Kyle Larson.
Larson had led most of the race early and cleared Austin Dillon for good with four laps left for his third career Xfinity win.
Dillon, the 2013 series champion, was second, followed by Truck Series champ Erik Jones, Brian Scott and Ryan Blaney.
Buescher needed to finish 13th or better without leading a lap to win the championship in Homestead. He also held off defending series champion Chase Elliott, Ty Dillon and Regan Smith, all within striking distance of knocking off Buescher.
Dillon was seventh, Elliott was eighth and Smith ninth.
In 33 starts, Buescher posted wins at Iowa and Dover. He had 11 top-fives, and 20 top-10s.
Not as well-known as closest three rivals, Buescher held the lead this season for 23 straight weeks. He denied Elliott's bid to go back-to-back in his final full Xfinity season.
Elliott, the son of Hall of Fame inductee and 1988 NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, is taking over Jeff Gordon's ride in the No. 24 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports next year. The team had to find a seat for him at NASCAR's top level or risk losing the 19-year-old to another organization.
Buescher joined Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards and two-time champ Ricky Stenhouse Jr. as series championship drivers for Roush.
Roush had put at least one driver in the Chase every season since its 2004 inception before missing the playoffs this season. Stenhouse, Biffle and 2011 Daytona 500 champion Trevor Bayne all struggled this season.
Buescher, a former ARCA champion in his second full Xfinity season, was fifth at Homestead in last season's finale to cap a string of solid finishes that had him optimistic he could run for a championship in 2015.
Ford also wrapped up the manufacturer's championship for the fifth time.
Larson and Kyle Busch dominated the majority of the race and seemed poised for a hard battle down the stretch.
Busch, brushed the inside wall late in the race, crippling a late-push at the checkered flag on the same track where he'll race for his first career Sprint Cup championship on Sunday. Busch posted the third-fastest lap, best among the Chase finalists.
Once hailed as the next big NASCAR star, Larson is winless in 74 career Cup starts and entered Homestead with two wins in 74 Xfinity starts.
TALK TO US
If you'd like to leave a comment (or a tip or a question) about this story with the editors, please email us. We also welcome letters to the editor for publication; you can do that by filling out our letters form and submitting it to the newsroom.