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What Buescher’s NASCAR Ford Could Have Done To Win Kansas

The stock car racing world is going to be talking about the Cup Series finish at Kansas on May 5th, 2024 for a while. The closest finish in NASCAR history came down to a dead heat between the No. 5 Chevy Camaro ZL1 of Kyle Larson and the No. 17 Ford Mustang Dark Horse of Chris Buescher. Buescher was runner up by just 0.001 seconds, leaving many to wonder if there was anything he could have done to be on the right end of the photo finish, according to a discussion on Inside the Race.

Racing analysts Steve Letarte and Todd Gordon took a look at the late-race restart that ultimately decided Buescher’s fate at Kansas. They point out that Buescher’s No. 17 Mustang did an excellent job slingshotting into the lead, remarking that with just a few laps left, it looked like it was his race to lose. They also remark that the top groove (the racing line closest to the wall) seemed to be faster, especially on restarts.

However, Buescher chose to drive to the bottom to block a charge from Larson, while Larson stayed high. Buescher entered the corner in the middle, perhaps thinking he could block Larson if the Chevy driver elected to stay high. However, Buescher was “late to the block,” allowing Larson to drive past him and gain ground.

“The 17, he is thinking he is going to go down. Straight shot to the bottom to get away from the 5,” Letarte says. However, that opened the door for Larson to gain the advantage. Moreover, as they raced side-by-side, the air coming off Larson’s windshield was likely being dumped onto Buescher’s spoiler, slowing the No. 17 NASCAR Ford.

The fatal mistake was the contact between the two drivers. The impact made the No. 17 Mustang loose, causing it to lay tire marks and scrubbing off precious speed. Larson likely assumed that Buescher was headed lower than he ended up. It’s likely if Buescher had stayed close to the grass, he would have beat Larson to the line – something that’s going to haunt him for a while.

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Alexandra is a Colorado-based journalist with a passion for all things involving horsepower, be it automotive or equestrian.

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