RELATED: Full race results " Final season standings HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- As it turned out, the final step in Chris Buescher 's march to the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship was almost pedestrian. None of his closest pursuers could mount a serious challenge for the victory in Saturday's Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway . In fact, Buescher , title runner-up Chase Elliott and fellow contenders Ty Dillon and Regan Smith all went a lap down to race winner Kyle Larson during a long green-flag run in the middle of the race. Ultimately, Buescher got a free pass back to the lead lap and finished 11th, leaving him with a 15-point edge in the standings over Elliott, the defending series champion, and 18 over third-place Dillon, who finished seventh on Saturday. With no real pressure from his competition, and with 18 points in hand entering the race, Buescher's primary task was to keep his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford out of trouble, and the 23-year-old Texan did exactly that. RELATED: Buescher's path to becoming a champion If the pressure of an impending first NASCAR national series championship was weighing on him, Buescher didn't show it. "I did a good job masking it didn't I?" Buescher said after the race. "I was a little nervous. All things considered, that was exactly what we needed to do, and we knew that and knew we were capable of doing it. "I'm glad we could pull it off for all the people that were on board all year, AdvoCare, Roush Performance, Cheez-It and all the fans. I know the weather wasn't ideal today (rain caused the fourth caution), but they hung in there with us and we made it through this thing and get to celebrate." More than seven years earlier, Buescher left home to pursue a racing career, despite the reservations of his parents. "I'm glad (my mother) let me," Buescher said. "I think she's OK with it now. I have to thank my parents so much for the opportunity to be here and leave home and do this. That was such an amazing race, just being careful. "Our Fastenal Mustang had good speed in it. We just had to be careful out there… It's pretty amazing to be in this position." Keeping his desire to race for victories in check, however, has been a difficult proposition for the young champion. "I am not a points racer," Buescher said. "I don't like it. It's not the most fun way to run the last 10 races of the season, but it is important. "This is what we have been fighting for since February at Daytona, and these guys (the team) have done such a great job and stuck in there with us all year and had no mechanical failures or DNFs. It's a huge accomplishment for our team." Austin Dillon , who finished second to Larson on Saturday, wasn't surprised Buescher and his team exhibited that sort of race management. " Chris is a smart race car driver," Dillon said. I think that's what won him a championship. I noticed it earlier on in the year. I've noticed it from when he was driving ARCA against Ty (Dillon, Austin's brother). Him and Ty had good battles then, and Chris is always smart with his equipment. "I think he knows the ability of the equipment, uses it to its ability every time, and finishes races well. So I think Chris is going to be good. He's smart. He doesn't tear up stuff. He's raced with less before, and it teaches you what you have in the car, so I think he's very good at managing his equipment and getting the best out of it." Interestingly, even with a championship to his credit, Buescher hasn't settled his plans for next season. "I'm optimistic about it," Buescher said. "I feel like we'll have something ... I just don't have anything right now. We don't have everything planned out at the moment. It will be a couple weeks, I'm sure, before we get everything lined up and get a little bit closer – not that I'm worried about it. "I feel pretty confident that the guys back at the shop are doing everything they can to get sponsors on board and to try to put together a 2016 season, wherever that may be." Team owner Jack Roush indicated Buescher would run some NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races next season. What's unknown is how many. "We're still not sure what his arrangement is going to be next year," Roush said. "He will be involved in a Cup car to some extent, but whether it's a part-time program or a full program, we're still in the midst of finalizing the conditions. "We've got a number of possibilities, but we're not ready to announce that today."
HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- One night after Kyle Busch took a bow as a first-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, he helped to toast the youngster who brought him his first driver's title as a team owner. With milk. On a night for honoring new champions, Erik Jones and Chris Buescher took center stage at the NASCAR XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series Awards at the Diplomat Resort and Spa. For Buescher , it marked the 23-year-old's first national series championship in just his second full year in the series. For Jones, the title march coincided with a Sunoco Rookie of the Year campaign. Busch was missing from Monday night's awards, occupied with the media duties and obligations that came with winning his first premier series title at Homestead-Miami Speedway . His wife, Samantha, attended on behalf of Kyle Busch Motorsports, which claimed the team owners' title for the third straight year. With Busch making the rounds with the Sprint Cup trophy, Ed Laukes, Toyota's vice president of marketing communications and motorsports, provided an assist in toasting Jones' stellar season. But the raised glass for the 19-year-old was full of milk, a half-joking homage to Dale Earnhardt's toast of first-time champion Jeff Gordon in 1995. "I wish Kyle would've been there to see his creation come to life, I guess you'd say," said Jones, who won three races and five pole positions in his first full season. "I think he had a good excuse to miss it, but that was funny. That's definitely a Kyle thing he would do, especially to me." Buescher's coronation on the XFINITY tour came after a two-win season with hallmark consistency -- 20 top-10s in 33 races. Monday night, he took his place with his Roush Fenway Racing team at the head table, saying that he showed a slight case of nerves in the Great Hall's gala setting. Jitters notwithstanding, the experience capped a stellar 48-hour period full of well-wishes from his peers. "The coolest thing is just having so many different people come up and say congratulations and we've seen what you've done to work for this and it's awesome to see you here," Buescher said. "Stuff like that means that all those years working up to this point were well worth it. It's been countless hours, many all-nighters to make sure we could get to the next ARCA race at night. We've done so many things to try and get to this point, and to finally be here, it's special. It's very humbling." Chase Elliott , the driver who preceded Buescher as series champion, took Most Popular Driver honors with him as he transitions to the Sprint Cup Series next year, replacing Jeff Gordon in the Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet. NASCAR Next driver John Hunter Nemechek was voted Most Popular Driver in the Camping World Truck Series. Daniel Suarez , another product of the NASCAR Next program, was named Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the XFINITY Series.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- Even in the moments Chris Buescher was celebrating his NASCAR XFINITY Series title Saturday night, his team owner Jack Roush was suggesting that the newly-crowned champion might end up in the Sprint Cup Series in 2016. The only question seemed to be whether it would be a full-time ride or a part-time gig. "We're still not sure what his arrangement is going to be next year,'' Roush said. "He will be involved in a Cup car to some extent, but whether it's a part ‑ time program or a full program, we're still in the midst of finalizing the conditions today. "We've got a number of possibilities, but we're not ready to announce that today." While Roush is still securing details, it was all news to Buescher . Reporters told Buescher of Roush's comments -- made before the driver came into the deadline media room at Homestead-Miami Speedway -- but the newly crowned champ wasn't ready to confirm a change beyond his intent to run a full XFINITY schedule in 2016. Buescher made six Cup starts this season in the Front Row Motorsports No. 34 Ford with a best finish of 20th at Fontana. "So I've been clear, I'm not in a rush,'' Buescher , 23, said Saturday after celebrating his XFINITY Series title. "If it comes around -- and that's the first I've heard of that, by the way -- so it's kind of like the radio interview where Jack said something four months ago and I found out from my dad. "But you know, if that's what it brings, then I'll do my best to prepare for it and be ready, and if not, we'll go try and double up on these XFINITY championships. "Right now we're living in the moment, and that's a big weight off our shoulders. We get to calm down a little bit, get to celebrate, get to enjoy the banquet, going to do some offshore fishing while we're down here in Florida, and get ready for 2016."
RELATED: Series standings going into final race Chris Buescher isn't fond of points racing or being cautious. But when it comes to Saturday's NASCAR XFINITY Series Ford EcoBoost 300 season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway (2:45 p.m. ET on NBC), he might have to do a little of both. Buescher leads Chase Elliott by 18 points, Ty Dillon by 22 and Regan Smith by 24 going into the race. With such narrow margins, Buescher will try to balance caution with aggression. "You've got to be a little bit more careful, but at the same time, I've been pretty adamant about how much I hate points racing," Buescher said. "So I want to go have a good day, and I feel like this has been a good racetrack for us. I've only run one race there but had a lot of fun last year, first and foremost, and was able to get a top five out of it. So I feel like this should be a good weekend for us. We just have to continue doing what we've done all year." While he'll try to race as usual while aware of his competitors, they'll be able to race with abandon. "You always push yourself to want more no matter what, and you're never satisfied unless you're winning in this sport," Dillon said. "I think it's one of the only sports where there's 43 people playing or participating each week and there's only one winner, so that makes 42 losers a week. You're always wanting to be that guy winning, and I want to be a champion for my team and myself, so it's something that I'm going to continue to push for." Elliott, who will replace retiring Jeff Gordon with Hendrick Motorsports next season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, said Buescher doesn't need any advice. "He doesn't need my help," Elliott said. "He's done a good job, and those guys are deserving of the position they're in, and for the rest of us trying to catch up, I know at least I can speak for myself, that we need to do a better job and try to catch up. We have an opportunity to do that this weekend." Buescher , a 23-year-old from Prosper, Texas, is one of four Roush Fenway Racing drivers in the top 10 in the XFINITY Series standings – Elliott Sadler , Darrell Wallace Jr . and Ryan Reed being the others. "I've been under the radar all my life," Buescher said. "(I'm) not opposed to it, so I've been able to have good success coming up through various series and been able to accomplish a lot to get to this point. It's a little bit more of a quiet way to get there, but we're here. We've made it this far. It's going to be a good weekend. We've just got to go race. That's what we've been trying to do all my life. This is the scenario I've been working toward for many years."
Kyle Larson earns the NASCAR XFINITY Series victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway but Chris Buescher comes away with the NXS Championship.
Chris Buescher describes what it feels like to fulfill his dream of winning a NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship.
Chris Buescher talks about what it took to earn his first NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship.
Kyle Larson wins the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway while Chris Buescher finishes 11th to earn his first NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship.
After winning his first NASCAR XFINITY Series championship, Chris Buescher sat down to talk about his accomplishment.
RELATED: Race results FORT WORTH, Texas -- Points racing is an aspect of motorsports that drivers typically don't cop to, even though it's often the safest and most logical way to secure a championship as a season nears its closing races. XFINITY Series standings leader Chris Buescher reluctantly admitted he spent Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge hoping to keep his points lead secure ahead of the season's final two races, avoiding trouble when he could and driving defensively. The Texas native would've loved to pick up his first home state win, but knows there's a bigger task at hand. "We had to points race a little bit today," Buescher said on pit road after coming home 11th. "You get in situations where you come up on lapped traffic, which was extremely difficult today. Came up on situations where we were three-wide and you just have to ease up. Especially if somebody had caught us from any distance; just try and cut them some slack in order to preserve our championship hope. There was some points racing today, as much as I hate to admit it. It's going to be part of our next two weeks." Buescher's points lead now sits at a healthy 24 points over defending series champion Chase Elliott and 30 over Ty Dillon , both of whom are expected to move up to the Sprint Cup Series in 2016 while Buescher continues to sharpen his skills in the XFINITY Series for another season. Considering he was already doing the math just minutes after stepping out of his No. 60 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Mustang, don't expect the strategy to change for Phoenix or Homestead -- especially as the intensity mounts. "It isn’t comfortable yet. I'm not using that word," Buescher said. "It is a cushion that we have and I guess you average that out to 12 spots per race so if we go out and finish top-10 the last two, we should be in good shape. That would be cutting it too close for comfort but we need to just have some solid runs the next two weeks.” Even though Buescher isn't comfortable enough to shift into cruise control -- figuratively speaking, of course -- you'd think the pressure would be on those below him in the standings, whose best bet is to just capitalize on any mistakes he makes while needing to turn in their strongest performances of the year. But is it? "I know as the weeks go on, ( Buescher's ) going to feel more pressure to make sure he doesn't mess up and hopefully I'm there to capitalize," said Dillon, who made up some ground as the highest-finishing series regular, in fifth. "I was just trying to win the race. We did the best that we could do today and with him finishing 11th, it was a good day for us. It's going to take that mistake and he's doing the right thing now and we've just got to keep managing our own race and try to get in Victory Lane and gain max points. "… If I'm wasting my time focusing on what ( Buescher's ) doing," Dillon said. "I'm going to be in trouble."