NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Owner Standings
After Race 31 of the 2016 season at Kansas Speedway Pos Owner Car # Points Ldr Nxt PPos G/L Wins Attempts 1 Hendrick Motorsports 48 3,082 0 -- 1 0 3 31 2 Joe Gibbs Racing 20 3,074 -8 -8 2 0 2 31 3 Joe Gibbs Racing 18 3,072 -10 -2 3 0 4 31 4 Joe Gibbs Racing 19 3,069 -13 -3 6 2 2 31 5 Stewart-Haas Racing 41 3,062 -20 -7 5 0 1 31 6 Furniture Row Racing 78 3,058 -24 -4 7 1 4 31 7 Stewart-Haas Racing 4 3,048 -34 -10 12 5 4 31 8 Team Penske 22 3,045 -37 -3 11 3 1 31 9 Richard Childress Racing 3 3,045 -37 0 9 0 0 31 10 Joe Gibbs Racing 11 3,039 -43 -6 8 -2 3 31 11 Team Penske 2 3,038 -44 -1 4 -7 4 31 12 Hendrick Motorsports 24 3,020 -62 -18 10 -2 0 31 13 Stewart-Haas Racing 14 2,131 -951 -889 14 1 1 31 14 Chip Ganassi Racing 42 2,120 -962 -11 13 -1 1 31 15 Front Row Motorsports 34 2,090 -992 -30 16 1 1 31 16 Chip Ganassi Racing 1 2,088 -994 -2 15 -1 0 31 17 Hendrick Motorsports 5 797 -2,285 -1,291 17 0 0 31 18 Richard Childress Racing 31 767 -2,315 -30 18 0 0 31 19 Hendrick Motorsports 88 765 -2,317 -2 19 0 0 31 20 JTG Daugherty Racing 47 686 -2,396 -79 22 2 0 31 21 Wood Brothers Racing 21 682 -2,400 -4 21 0 0 31 22 Roush Fenway Racing 17 680 -2,402 -2 20 -2 0 31 23 Roush Fenway Racing 6 675 -2,407 -5 23 0 0 31 24 Stewart-Haas Racing 10 600 -2,482 -75 24 0 0 31 25 Roush Fenway Racing 16 564 -2,518 -36 25 0 0 31 26 Richard Childress Racing 27 563 -2,519 -1 26 0 0 31 27 HScott Motorsports 15 541 -2,541 -22 28 1 0 31 28 Richard Petty Motorsports 43 540 -2,542 -1 27 -1 0 31 29 Germain Racing 13 486 -2,596 -54 29 0 0 31 30 Circle Sport-Leavine Family 95 471 -2,611 -15 30 0 0 31 31 Front Row Motorsports 38 445 -2,637 -26 31 0 0 31 32 Tommy Baldwin Racing 7 406 -2,676 -39 33 1 0 31 33 BK Racing 23 403 -2,679 -3 32 -1 0 31 34 Richard Petty Motorsports 44 384 -2,698 -19 34 0 0 31 35 BK Racing 83 356 -2,726 -28 35 0 0 31 36 Premium Motorsports 98 284 -2,798 -72 36 0 0 31 37 HScott Motorsports 46 277 -2,805 -7 37 0 0 31 38 GO FAS Racing 32 248 -2,834 -29 38 0 0 31 39 Premium Motorsports 55 209 -2,873 -39 39 0 0 26 40 The Motorsports Group 30 167 -2,915 -42 40 0 0 31 41 Front Row Motorsports 35 46 -3,036 -121 41 0 0 3 42 Circle Sport - Leavine Family 59 26 -3,056 -20 42 0 0 1 43 BK Racing 93 15 -3,067 -11 43 0 0 5 44 BK Racing 26 3 -3,079 -12 44 0 0 1 45 Hillman Racing 40 0 -3,082 -3 45 0 0 1
Bruce: Harvick continues to thrive in must-win scenarios
RELATED: Full race results " Chase Grid KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- Forget El Toro. The Closer? That's so yesterday. More like Houdini. Kevin Harvick , the master escape artist. Back to the wall? No way out? Done? To quote John "Bluto" Blutarsky, "Nothing is over until we decide it is!" Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team pulled another rabbit out of the hat here Sunday, winning the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway and earning an automatic berth into NASCAR’s Round of 8. Championship dreams haven't been extinguished. He and Jimmie Johnson , last week's winner at Charlotte, will sleep soundly. There will be no Talladega nightmares in the coming week. The 2014 champions have made a habit of survival in NASCAR's Chase elimination format since its debut two years ago. In '15, it was a must-win situation at Dover; Harvick went out and dominated to stay alive. In '14, same scenario, different round; he won at Phoenix to stave off elimination and move into the Championship Round, then went to Homestead to win the race and the title. This year has been no different. A 20th-place finish in the first round at Chicago dropped the team outside the top 12 in the 16-team field; Harvick won the next week at New Hampshire. A 38th-place result last week at Charlotte -- in the opening race of the second round -- dropped him to 12th, with anything-can-happen Talladega ahead and only the top eight moving on. He won at Kansas. If some teams wilt under pressure, this one seems to step up. Challenges surface, but they're met and overcome. Harvick led 74 laps of the 267-lap race Sunday, including the final 30. "If you can't win, you won't win one of these championships," Harvick, now a four-time winner this season, said afterward. "You'll get to Homestead and you may point (race) your way in, but there will be a car that shows up there that's going to win the race and win the championship." Points and points racing hold no interest for Harvick, thanks to Rodney Childers, the man who oversees everything concerning the No. 4 team and how it operates. "He didn't want to hear anything about points before we started this deal," Harvick said of his crew chief. "I'm like, 'OK, well, that's a new approach for me.' Usually you go home, you look at the points standings , that was a pretty good week." Now? "If we don't win, it's not a good week," Harvick said. Harvick credits Childers, Childers returns the favor, saying it's his driver's confidence and drive that "feeds down through him" to the team. "We're just fortunate to have a lot of guys that won't quit," Childers explained. "They don't take no for an answer. They don't care how many hours they work. They don't care what they have to do. They just try to make it happen. "It's cool to be in that environment and be around people like that. It's something that we all hope that we can do sometime in our lifetime." Maybe there were better cars Sunday, maybe there were faster cars. But NASCAR is often a game of opportunity; Harvick and his crew seized this one. "Do I feel like we had the best car today? Probably not," Harvick said. "Did we have the best car at (New Hampshire)? Probably not. But guess what, we kept ourselves in it all day. ... It's good to feel like you probably didn't have the fastest car and win the race because I felt like, we felt like, a lot of times we've had the fastest car and didn't win the race. So it's good to get a few of those back." The team's ability to step up isn't lost on the competition. Others have been there to see it play out all too often. "When it comes to these situations, they usually find a little more speed somewhere in their cars," said third-place finisher Joey Logano ( Team Penske ). "I don't know how, but when they are in must-win situations, they find more speed, which is always interesting to me that they have a little left in the tank." Said runner-up Carl Edwards ( Joe Gibbs Racing ): "I don't think they had the fastest car (but) they made it happen. So congrats to them." Only Austin Dillon ( Richard Childress Racing ), a solid sixth in the final rundown, seemed to have an idea of how to curtail Harvick's comeback combativeness, suggesting others "get together and block … in elimination races or just pull for something because he's tough to beat in those final races. "There's no doubt about it, he steps up when the pressure's there," Dillon said. "That team does a good job." No matter the situation, the team knows it can perform. It has proven it time and time again. So much so, Harvick said, that it's "not something we really even talk about because we've already done all that." Add Sunday's victory to the list. It may not have been magic, but it was magical just the same. &amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
Versatile pit crews help save points after wrecks
RELATED: Keselowski's Chase chances take hit after Hamlin contact Despite the specializing of today's pit crew members to be bigger, stronger and faster, they still need the ability and skill to help during a wreck situation. The points are tight this year and every position counts. Teams that can get their driver back on the track after a wreck have a chance to gain a few more points during a race weekend, and that could be the difference between advancing or going home. And it's not always a major crash that crews have to be ready for. This past weekend in Kansas, both Chase Elliott and Denny Hamlin had issues that could be fixed on the track, and their pit crews were called on to help. Simple stuff like a flat tire or nose damage can cause all kind of trouble, and it's up to the pit crew to fix it and keep the laps lost to a minimum. So you might be asking, isn't that the job of the mechanics? Yes, yes it is. In most cases the best people to be working on a car are the mechanics. No pit crew member will argue that. The mechanics in NASCAR are some of the best in the world, and working under pressure is what they do best. So if the issue is bad enough to bring the car behind the wall, then mechanics usually handle the job. When it comes to doing repairs on pit road and trying not to lose a lap, having a pit crew that can pit and then fix saves time. And pit crews practice these situations just like they would a four-tire change. Heading to Talladega there are many teams on the bubble. You never know when advancing or not comes down to just a few points , and those are the points that can be saved by savvy pit crew members and great mechanics. For more pit crew news, visit PitTalks.com . &amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;gt;
Talladega clinching scenarios for Round of 8
RELATED: Current Chase Grid " Driver standings Sunday's race at Talladega Superspeedway will shrink the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup field from 12 drivers to eight. Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are already locked into the Round of 8 with victories at Charlotte and Kansas, respectively, which leaves 10 drivers battling for six spots. Here's a look at how drivers can clinch spots in the next round. Tune in to the Alabama 500 (2 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) to see who advances and who is eliminated. Of the drivers below, a win would automatically advance them into the next round. Otherwise ... • Matt Kenseth : Would clinch with 13 points (28th and no laps led, 29th and led at least one lap, 30th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, would clinch with 11 points . • Kyle Busch : Would clinch with 15 points (26th and no laps led, 27th and led at least one lap, 28th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, would clinch with 14 points . • Carl Edwards : Would clinch with 18 points (23rd and no laps led, 24th and led at least one lap, 25th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, would clinch with 16 points . • Kurt Busch : Would clinch with 25 points (16th and no laps led, 17th and led at least one lap, 18th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, would clinch with 24 points . • Martin Truex Jr .: Would clinch with 29 points (12th and no laps led, 13th and led at least one lap, 14th and led most laps) and a new winner. If there is a repeat winner, would clinch with 28 points . • Joey Logano : If there is a repeat winner, would clinch with 41 Points (2nd and led most laps). • Austin Dillon: If there is a repeat winner, would clinch with 41 points (2nd and led most laps). • Denny Hamlin : Could clinch on points with help, but does not control his own destiny without a win. • Brad Keselowski : Could clinch on points with help, but does not control his own destiny without a win. • Chase Elliott : Could clinch on points with help, but does not control his own destiny without a win.
Talladega 'Big One' hits Truck points standings hard
WATCH: Wildest rides of 2015 TALLADEGA, Ala. -- The "Big One" hit in Saturday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, and it had an impact as massive as the 2.66-mile Talladega Superspeedway oval itself. The championship race took a sharp turn when the No. 51 of Matt Tifft came down from the top line into a dense pack of trucks on Lap 92 (of 98), triggering a 10-vehicle incident that brought out the red flag for nearly 15 minutes. It was the last and worst shot to Matt Crafton , who led 43 laps but was involved in that incident that sent him tumbling down the leaderboard. Crafton, who trailed Erik Jones by four points entering the fred's 250 Presented by Coca-Cola, wound up 23 points behind the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver after finishing 24th. Four races remain in the 2015 season. Jones finished fourth. Fellow title contender Tyler Reddick ( Brad Keselowski Racing) was also involved in the wreck, but he rallied for a fifth-place result and is second in the standings , 18 points behind Jones. Two-time defending series champion Crafton was aggravated over the radio at the Talladega-style racing -- "it's the greatest (expletive) racing," he said sarcastically – and brief in his analysis on the points battle following the race. "I had my problems," Crafton said. "If (Jones and Tyler Reddick ) have their problems … I'm not worried about it. We're going to try and go win the next four and see what happens." Crafton was plagued by a spate of bad incidents Saturday that put his hopes for a three-peat as series champion in serious jeopardy. First, there was the large piece of debris that affixed itself to the front of Crafton's No. 88 Toyota, which caused the driver -- in the lead at the time -- to drop back in the field behind the pack, so that the air from the pack would sweep the trash off. That was successful in freeing the debris, but being in the back presented problems on Lap 86 when Stanton Barrett got into the wall, hitting Crafton's truck in the process. The ThorSport Racing driver was making his way up through the field before being drilled and sent into the inside wall, all of which preceded the final blow of the "Big One." Jones led six laps and was up front nearly the entire day after qualifying third. The 19-year-old ran 1-2 with Crafton prior to the No. 88 falling to the back to clean debris and extended his streak of consecutive top-10 finishes to 11, a run that began with his win at Iowa Speedway in June. "Never would have thought that we could have come out of this race that far ahead," Jones said of the points battle. "Everything from the best to the worst can happen here, and fortunately the best happened for us."
Hemric, Crafton move up in standings after last-lap chaos
RELATED: Race results " Updated standings KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- It was a night that an 18-year-old scored his first career in NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series. A two-time champion went from first to 10th to second. And the first- and second-place trucks on the final lap wrecked before they got to the finish line. In other words, Friday night's Toyota Tundra 250 at Kansas Speedway was your typical Truck Series race. "It got pretty exciting there; obviously all you hope for at the end of a deal like this, especially with all the cautions we had in the race, was to have an opportunity," said third-place finisher Daniel Hemric ( Brad Keselowski Racing). William Byron seized the opportunity, picking up the win for Kyle Busch Motorsports after getting nearly overwhelmed on a green, white, checkered restart. But contact between Johnny Sauter (GMS Racing) and Ben Rhodes (ThorSport Racing) while battling for the lead shot their chances and opened the door for Byron. RELATED: Rhodes makes contact with Sauter "It was very interesting," runnerup Matt Crafton (ThorSport), the two-time series champ said, pausing to watch a replay of the final lap play out and the leaders spin. "Wow. He smoked her down in there, didn't he? "I shoved it three wide in the middle and I'm like 'Yeah, this probably isn't the way to go.' I lifted just a little bit, got it back to the bottom and got a decent run. The bottom had been terrible all night and I got a decent run, everybody got loose and checked up … it worked out for me." MORE: Relive the day in photos Hemric and Crafton each improved five positions in the points standings -- Hemric vaulted from seventh to fifth and Crafton returned to the top-10 after sitting on the outside following the season's second and third races. He now sits sixth as the series prepares for to head to Dover International Speedway next week. It will be the first back-to-back race weekends for the series this season. Crafton led 57 laps, tops in a 170-lap race that was slowed by 11 cautions. The leader on a restart on Lap 135, Crafton quickly fell back through the field after contact with the second-place truck of Timothy Peters (Red Horse Racing). Gathering it back in after falling to 10th, he slowly began working his way back toward the front. "I was like, 'OK, we'll probably be all right, probably drive back by here in a minute'" Crafton said of the initial setback. But advancing through the field proved to be a handful and the final restart saw his No. 88 Toyota seventh in the running order. And then? "That last restart was just chaos," he said.
Kenseth to start Charlotte from the rear
Joe Gibbs Racing driver Matt Kenseth , one of 12 drivers in the Round of 12 of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup , will start Sunday's Bank of America 500 (noon ET, NBC, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) at Charlotte Motor Speedway from the rear of the field for unapproved adjustments. The No. 20 Toyota was forced to make pre-race changes due to repairs made for a trackbar mount, according to the team. His car went through the inspection process multiple times. Kenseth qualified 17th, but will fall back to 40th during pre-race warm-up laps. All points in the driver standings were reset prior to this round, so all 12 drivers enter Charlotte with 3,000 points . The Bank of America 500 will start on a green race track, necessitating a competition caution at Lap 25. The final two Sprint Cup Series practices, scheduled for Friday, were canceled due to rain. The race was slated to run Saturday night, but also was pushed back a day due to weather.
Daniel Suarez surges into XFINITY points lead
RELATED: Full race results " Updated series standings LAS VEGAS -- Daniel Suarez experienced a first in his XFINITY Series career, and it wasn't a win. But the Drive for Diversity product snagged the points standings lead from Elliott Sadler after finishing second to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch in Saturday's Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway . This is the first time Suarez has led in the XFINITY standings . In fact, it's the first time a driver born outside the United States has been a series points leader, according to NASCAR statistical services. However, his position atop the standings is not weighing too heavy on his mind. "I think it's too early, we're just three races into the season and with the new Chase format anything can happen," Suarez said. "You need to win a race to be safe and lock yourself into the Chase." This is the first season of the NASCAR XFINITY Series Chase playoffs, similar to the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup . XFINITY drivers compete in an elimination-style format that begins with 12 eligible drivers at Kentucky in September and is whittled down to four for the final race of the season at Homestead. A win practically guarantees a driver's position in the Chase, but runner-up finishes go a long way, too. RELATED: Chase format explained "We have to keep working because someone else out there is still faster than us," Suarez said. "And it's good because it's our teammate ( Kyle Busch ) and we know he has the same stuff that we do. "We need to keep working to be consistent ... we need to keep working to get more speed and try to win a race to be more comfortable." Now it's all about maintaining his lead, finding more speed and seeking out that first win, which could come just as early as next week at Phoenix International Raceway , where the No. 19 driver has a best finish of fourth last season. Suarez has shown speed since the 2016 season started, with a eighth-place finish at Daytona and a seventh-place finish at Atlanta. The 24-year-old's second-place finish on Saturday was his best showing since Bristol Motor Speedway in April of 2015, when he was a runner-up to Joey Logano .
Chris Buescher's determined path to points leader
CONCORD, N.C. -- Chris Buescher always dreaded this part of the job. He had just finished wheeling the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford to a seventh-place result at Michigan International Speedway on June 15, 2013. Now, as the race at Road America approached, Buescher was tasked with taking his seat out and putting another one in back at the shop. It's a simple maneuver, one that's necessary in NASCAR as the race car seats are form-fitting to each driver. But the seat represented another ride that was not his, another driver who would be piloting the No. 16 instead of him, while he stood on the sidelines as a part-time employee in the race shop. "It took a lot of will power to take your seat in and out of a race car and put another driver's in it, knowing that that's exactly where you wanted to be, but were not able to at the time," Buescher said about a task he performed nine times in 2013. "It was a tough one for me, to be able to do that. I had to go to the race track, had to help the guys through the weekend, had to put the pit sign out for pit stops, get the guys on the right spot." But soon, it would be just his signature –- no one else's -- on top of the Roush Fenway Racing Ford. All paths lead to North Carolina Relaxed and dressed in work pants, a T-shirt and sneakers at the capacious Roush Fenway Racing campus in Concord, North Carolina, Buescher is the epitome of a man's man -- absent is the air of fame that surrounds many who spend their lives in the spotlight. He grins when he recalls having to buy a tuxedo because he didn't even own a suit -- much less a tux -- until recently. And he recounts moments of humbleness and times of challenge that molded him into the driver he is today: A winning wheelman who is leading the NASCAR XFINITY Series points standings in his second full-time year in the series and ready to contend for his first championship title. Anything to race Buescher is 12 years old. He's seated in his living room in his Prosper, Texas, home with his parents. And they're asking him to make a big decision, one that will impact his entire life. He still remembers that day vividly. "They said, 'Look, if you want to do this as a hobby, great. We'll go run on Saturday nights, we'll have fun here in Texas and you can continue to go through school and figure out something you want to do as your career. Or you can make racing your career.'" Buescher surrounded himself with racing. He spent summers racing Legends cars in the racing capital of the United States -- Charlotte, North Carolina. He slept many nights on the couch of now-No. 16 Sprint Cup crew chief Matt Puccia, trying to gain experience during the summer in the little time he had away from school. "Just happened to be the short couch, so my knees would end up on one armrest and my neck on the other," Buescher joked. "Not the most comfortable way to spend three months." "It usually started out with, 'Hey, do you mind if we stay at your house for a few nights?' " Puccia said with a chuckle at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 23. "And it ended up being the whole summer and into fall sometimes. "But you could tell really at a young age when he was first running Legends cars how much talent that he was going to have. He just had a natural ability of being able to adapt to those cars." Eventually it was time for him to make a more permanent decision. In 2008 -- without a driver's license, even -- 15-year-old Buescher left his childhood town in Texas for Charlotte. This time, he wouldn't return home at summer's end. "(I said to myself) 'Man, you better take this opportunity or somebody else will,' " Buescher said. "... It was that time where you really had to commit. I had to drive the 17, 18 hours up to Charlotte, unpack what little belongings I had at the time and try and make racing work." "... That was the hardest part of it was trying to leave home so young, knowing I had two sisters, I had all my friends back there still and not wanting to leave at all just to try and make this work." But Buescher wasn't alone. He had a family waiting for him up in the Tarheel State that was ready to embrace him with open arms and would ultimately help advance his racing career: The Ragans. A second family Buescher had met Ken Ragan -- Cup driver and father of Sprint Cup Series regular David Ragan -- while racing Legends cars. At the time, Ragan was in charge of 600 Racing, Inc., a company that manufactures and sponsors Legends cars worldwide. Their initial meeting, however, wasn't ideal. "Through unfortunate circumstances, (I) got to be in his office for a lengthy lecture after I got black-flagged one weekend," Buescher recalled with a smile and chuckle. "So, it was a rocky start, but it turned into a great friendship over the course of the next few summers." The Ragans gave Buescher a roof over his head, while offering a valuable connection to the racing community. He maintained the family's yard, completed his high school work online and tried to make it as a race car driver. Soon, that success came for Buescher, as he joined Roush Fenway Racing as a part-time XFINITY driver in 2011 and won his first ARCA championship in 2012. But even in times of triumph, the journey to the top doesn't always pay as it should. "It got to the point where I was ready to go get a job part-time so I could afford to live and still race," Buescher said. The solution came in the form of a job as an interior specialist in the shop, which provided him with the monetary support he needed -- and allowed him to learn how his own race cars operate. "You want to know if a piece of suspension is broken and you're out on the race track, you want to be able to describe where it's coming from and you want to know a basic idea of what you're describing," Buescher said. "You want to be able to tell them, 'look here first.' ... And I think that's important and there's a lot of guys that don't have that now." Buescher enjoyed the side gig so much that he continues to work in the shop today, decaling many of his own helmets, helping the shop employees during teardown and even building a small AC box for the garage. It's a bit of an old-school approach, reminiscent of a time in NASCAR when drivers would pull their own trailers to the track. But that's just how Buescher operates -- an old soul in the body of a 23-year-old race car driver. Turning bad luck into opportunity Mother Nature was not on Buescher's side that day down at Daytona International Speedway . He had finally gotten his start as an XFINITY Series full-time driver for Roush Fenway Racing and was set to qualify for his first race that season in February 2014. During the opening round of knockout qualifying, rain began to fall, halting the first session and ultimately cancelling the final two rounds. Buecher's No. 60 Ford didn't make the field. "I didn't get to run the first race of the season and that really hurt," Buescher said. "That was one of those times when you had to sit in a motorhome or on a pit box during the race and watch when you should have been in there, that you were fast enough all through testing, that you were fast enough through practice, you were top-five on the charts -- there was no reason not to be in that race. "And you sit there the whole time and think, 'What can I do to make sure this never happens again?' And that was the time we really put our heads down as a team -- we're a new team, we're all together for the first race, and we didn't get to run it. So, as we went into the next handful of races in the year, we decided we had nothing to lose. We could take chances, let's all learn together and let's go win some races." That's what they did. Buescher earned his first XFINITY win at Mid-Ohio that year, carrying momentum into the 2015 season, where two wins and 11 top-fives have propelled him to No. 1 in the series standings . With three races remaining on the schedule, the No. 60 driver's chance at a trophy draws closer. "I looked at what we have coming up and I feel great about our chances," Buescher said. "... It's been a tough several weeks leading up to this point and these last (three) are not going to be any easier. I know that." The champion won't be crowned until November, but given his chances as we look to Homestead, Buescher had better have a tuxedo ready -- just in case.
Buescher heads to Ohio seeking separation in standings
He has the best average finishing position overall, and the points lead. Now he hopes to build a little separation between himself and the rest of the field. Heading back to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, where he scored his first career NASCAR XFINITY Series win last year, Chris Buescher likes his chances. The Roush Fenway Racing driver has been atop the series points standings since earning career win No. 2, at Iowa, in a span of near one dozen races. Next up is Saturday's Nationwide Children’s Hospital 200 at Mid-Ohio (3:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR). It's the second of three road-course stops in the span of a month for the series. Given his success at Mid-Ohio, and a third-place run this past weekend at Watkins Glen, it's little wonder Buescher, 22, is looking forward to the next few weeks. "I really hope that road courses will be a strong point for us," Buescher said. "I feel really comfortable going back to Mid-Ohio obviously. Road America (where he finished 18th a year ago) was the one where I needed a little bit more work. "I think we should be able to run top 10 very easily there. I like road racing ... I seem to hang in there and we seem to be able to put fast Roush Fenway race cars on the track." Road America, coming up at month's end, falls later on this year's schedule than in recent seasons when the race there was held in June. Buescher doesn't lead the series as far as average finish on road courses is concerned. In the past two seasons, he ranks fourth (12.8) along with Ty Dillon . Chase Elliott (5.3), Elliott Sadler (7.8) and Brian Scott (8.8) have been a bit more consistent. But Buescher, crew chief Scott Graves and his No. 60 crew have been getting better. Not that there haven't been hiccups, but the team has yet to finish outside the top 20 this season. They've been good, but not great, as the Watkins Glen finish attests. "I like where we’re at right now," Buescher said. "We have speed in our road course cars. The (Team) Penske cars showed up better than us (at Watkins Glen) though. They were very fast, class of the field. That being said, they always run fast at that particular track. "Mid-Ohio, I don't feel like there was a car there that really had something better than us last time around. If we can repeat that, maybe we can improve on it a little bit. I’m pretty comfortable where we're at." Elliott, the defending series champion, trails Buescher by 24 points (724-700). Dillon (also 24 back), Regan Smith (minus-57) and Sadler (minus-58) round out the top five.