BRISTOL, Tenn. (Sept. 17, 2022) – RFK Racing stole the show Saturday night at the famous Bristol Night Race as Chris Buescher earned his second-ever NASCAR Cup Series win, piloting the Fastenal Ford Mustang to the first win under the new RFK banner. He and teammate and co-owner Brad Keselowski led a combined 278 laps with the No. 6 winning the opening stage.
For Buescher, the victory snaps a 223-race winless streak, and he did it on a momentous day, his career 250th start in the NCS. It marks the first Cup win for RFK in 191 races (Daytona, 2017), and is the first non-Superspeedway win for RFK since the 2014 Sonoma race (Carl Edwards). Fastenal, who has backed Roush since 2010, also picks up its first Cup Series win as the anchor partner on the No. 17 team.
“This has been number one on my list for a really long time,” Buescher said. “It’s my favorite place we come on concrete. It’s just so special to get Fastenal their first points Cup race. After all these years we finally got them into Victory Lane.”
Everybody on this team did such a great job, executed all day long and we had a really fast Ford Mustang. A lot of special things came together. I want to give a shout out to Adam Reagan. He’s back at home and just had some knee surgery, so he’s at home recovering. I’m just so excited right now. This is one I’ve had circled for a really long time and if there was going to be one this year to get, this is it.”
A gutsy, two-tire call by crew chief Scott Graves with just over 50 to go ultimately gave Buescher the lead off pit road for the race’s final restart. In total, Buescher ran near the front for all but a handful of the laps in the middle portion of the race, finishing seventh in the opening stage before retaking the momentum late.
The No. 17 rolled off the grid 20th following qualifying on Saturday, but wasted no time advancing up from there. After an early yellow on lap 42, Graves kept Buescher on track and capitalized on track position, restarting third just shy of lap 50. That position held for Buescher until his first pit stop of the evening under caution at lap 91. After rolling back off 18th, Buescher charged to the front in the final 26 laps of the opening stage to seventh.
He led the field to green on the ensuing restart, and from there led 101 consecutive laps as he remained on track through a pair of cautions. He ultimately hit pit road again at lap 234 under yellow, giving up his track position for a 10-lap shootout to the second stage flag.
After finishing 14th in the second stage, he restarted ninth for the final, 250-lap stage, and from there slowly picked his way back through the field. He was up to fifth with 150 to go and maintained there, then, when the caution came out with 64 laps remaining, Graves made the call for just two fresh tires, giving Buescher track position to lead the field back to green.
He never relinquished the lead again and dominated the final laps en route to the victory.
Keselowski’s night went from dominant to gut-wrenching in a hurry as a blown tire ruined what may have been a duel between he and Buescher for the win. Keselowski began the night from the 10th position, and, like Buescher, stayed out under the first yellow to lead the field back to green. The two RFK teammates stayed 1-2 all the way to lap 91, but Keselowski remained on track through the end of the opening, 125-lap stage, earning the stage win.
Following his first service of the night on the Kohler Generators Ford, Keselowski fired off 17th in stage two, and after a series of cautions in the 125-lap segment, finished it 13th. He and Buescher lined up nose-to-tail to start stage three in eighth (and ninth), and began his charge forward from there. Running third with 149 to go, Keselowski hit pit road and restarted third with 140 to go. He would drive past the No. 5 at lap 388 to take the lead, and stretched out a considerable lead of well over two seconds.
But, with 86 to go, the No. 6 suffered a flat right-front tire and no caution was displayed, bringing Keselowski to pit road for repairs and fresh tires. Despite a valiant effort late to get back on the lead lap, he was unfortunately trapped a lap down and would finish 13th.
The victory for Buescher marks the first as a Co-Owner for Keselowski. It is the 12th win for Jack Roush’s team at the historic Bristol Motor Speedway, and is the 138th Cup win for Roush overall.
Riding a wave of momentum, Texas Motor Speedway is up next for the Cup Series. Race coverage next Sunday is set for 3:30 p.m. ET on USA Network, and can also be heard on PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.