Chris Buescher wins the Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway

Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs

When you come to Richmond Raceway, race strategy usually revolves around tire management. At this track that's known for its long green runs, the drivers skilled at saving their tires are likely to try something different to give them a competitive advantage.

Of course, it’s also helpful if you have a fast car. Just ask Chris Buescher, winner of the Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway. His No. 17 RFK Racing Ford was strong all day, pacing the field for 88 of 400 laps. It was Buescher’s third career win, and it locked him into the NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

Brad Keselowski, team co-owner of RFK Racing, finished sixth, led 102 laps and earned stage points. Keselowski was proud of the achievement for the team and organization, and maybe a bit jealous of not being the victor. 

"Chris had a great pit sequence and never looked back," Keselowski said. "They were able to call a great race and he was able to execute despite the late caution. We wanted to finish 1-2. We didn’t get to do that, but it was still a great day.

“Of course, I want to win as a driver. I was just happy that we are as competitive as we are. We want to keep building and keep being more competitive every week."

In the early going, it appeared as though no one had anything for the 23XI Racing cars of Tyler Reddick and Bubba Wallace, who swapped the lead from each other and from Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. several times. Pit road mishaps during green flag stops put both Reddick’s No. 45 and Wallace’s No. 23 out of contention. Wallace finished 12th, and Reddick finished 16th.

With 20 laps to go in the race, it was Buescher in the lead with Hamlin on his heels in second, Ryan Preece in third and Truex Jr. in fourth. With 10 laps to go, Daniel Suárez spun and set up a restart with three to go. 

At the restart, Buescher chose the inside with Denny Hamlin to his right. Hamlin got to Buescher’s door entering Turn 1 with two laps left but locked up his tires. At the checkered flag Hamlin finished second with Kyle Busch, Joey Logano and Ryan Preece rounding out the top five.

Race winner Buescher had a good feeling going into the race. “We've had this one circled since last fall. I was really hopeful this could be the one that would turn the page for us. Sure enough, right off the truck I thought it was," he said.

“I hate that qualifying went the way it did. I was sitting there beating myself up trying to figure out what we were going to do there. We made it to Victory Lane here in Richmond though. I'd have told you to flood this place three years ago. My opinions are changing quite a bit here though.

“When the caution came out, I thought it was inevitable. I knew it was coming and was mentally prepared for it. I also knew that our Fastenal Ford fired off so good, so we were ready.”

Buescher got his first career start at Richmond in 2011 as a Roush Fenway Racing development driver when he substituted for Trevor Bayne in the No. 16 Ford. 

“Richmond was always a track I wanted to like. It’s not my favorite yet, but when you win at a track it helps,” he said.

Prior to today's Richmond win, Buescher had a 24.1 average finish here. He had hints of a Richmond turnaround last fall when he finished third, which at the time was his career best at Richmond.

NASCAR Cup Series rolls into Michigan International Speedway for the FireKeepers Casino 400 on Sunday, Aug. 6 at 2:30 p.m. EDT. Watch the race on USA.

Carol D'Agostino for Skirts and Scuffs

Chris Buescher wins the Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway Chris Buescher wins the Cook Out 400 at Richmond Raceway Reviewed by Carol D'Agostino on Sunday, July 30, 2023 Rating: 5