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Rookie is seventh in points, despite not qualifying for season-opening race RELATED: Play NASCAR Fantasy Live " Sign up for RaceView today For Chris Buescher , 2014 counts as a season of on-track growth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series . The progress has been even more of an eyebrow-raiser considering that the growth was nearly stunted before the season started. Early blips aside, Buescher has rounded into competitive form during his rookie season in Roush Fenway Racing's No. 60 Ford Mustang. He'll hope to build steam from last weekend's mistake-free fourth-place finish at Dover into Saturday's Kansas Lottery 300 (3:30 p.m. ET, ESPN2) at Kansas Speedway . The current run of momentum remains in sharp contrast to Buescher's delayed start to the season at Daytona International Speedway in February. Buescher was among nine drivers missing out on Coors Light Pole Qualifying in the series' first try at the new multi-round group qualifying format, a three-round session cut short by rain. Missing the race and starting the season the following weekend at Phoenix left the team facing a large deficit in the series standings. As the campaign has plodded along, the 21-year-old Texan has made the most of the early setback, steadily advancing to seventh place using the team's go-for-broke approach with little stake in the championship fight. All the while, sitting out Daytona has remained in the back of Buescher's mind. "Yeah, we always think about that," he said Saturday after the Dover 200 . "Not getting to make our first Daytona start due to the new format, rain, weather, what have you -- we were extremely fast, but we took it for what it is and we've been going forward understanding that we missed a race and we're still seventh in points. I look at it as a big plus for our whole team. I'm really proud of these guys for sticking with it and going out here. "We've taken a lot of chances this year. We've been in position to do it now. We have nothing to lose in the points, so it's almost been a blessing for us to be able to experiment a little bit and take some chances that you usually wouldn't do." The highlight of Buescher's progression came in August, when he emerged at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for his first career victory. Since then, the finishes have been solid but not spectacular -- up until last weekend's super-steady top-five result at the Monster Mile. Though making monumental steps further up in the standings is virtually out of reach -- Buescher ranks 78 points behind sixth-place Trevor Bayne , his Roush Fenway teammate -- the team still has chances to make strides over the final five races of the season. "I mean, that's our goal," said Scott Graves, Buescher's crew chief. "The end of the season, we're definitely talking that we want to be top-five and in contention every week. Just really want to show people that we're here and we're for real and finish off strong, for sure." That quest begins this weekend at Kansas, where Buescher finished 16th last year in just his ninth career Nationwide Series start. His results this season on 1.5-mile tracks have been a hodgepodge, but his portfolio of four top-10 finishes in eight races on intermediate-sized tracks this year provides hope. "It's been a struggle at first, but we've made a lot of gains," said Buescher , who took seventh place in the series most recent race at a 1.5-mile track, two weeks ago at Kentucky. "Our last couple of mile-and-a-halfs have been really good, so I think we can build on that, go out there and contend and get these top-fives." MORE: READ: Latest Chase news PLAY: Monitor your Chase Grid Game picks WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kyle Larson spins on Lap 89, coming down the track and hitting Chris Buescher .
Joey Logano and Regan Smith leave Dover wondering what could have been, while Chris Buescher brings home his best finish since the win at Mid-Ohio.
Chris Buescher has just enough fuel to hold off the field and earn his first career NNS victory at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Buescher's Mid-Ohio victory gave the Nationwide Series three rookie winners
Chris Buescher describes his emotions during the final laps of his first career NASCAR Nationwide Series win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Chris Buescher makes an awesome save after getting loose at Dover International Speedway.
Dylan Kwasniewski and Chris Buescher battle into Turn 1, wrecking each other and bystander David Starr.
Austin Dillon slides out of the groove and through the field as Chris Buescher slides into the wall.