News & Media

Buescher having more ups than downs with Turner

August 03, 2012, Seth Livingstone, Special to NASCAR.COM,

LONG POND, Pa. -- James Buescher leads the Camping World Truck Series in victories (three), money won ($246,290) and laps led (22.3 percent) this season. He has a 116.4 Driver Rating, with Timothy Peters a distant second at 106.

But for all his statistical dominance, Buescher ranks fourth where it matters most -- in the point standings.

James Buescher

2012 Statistics
Lead-Lap Fin.99
Laps Led37313
Avg. Start8.114.5
Avg. Fin.9.912.3

"I feel like I've accomplished most of my goals for this year, already."


The 22-year-old driver for Turner Motorsports, who trails series leader Peters by 35 points, has a very simple explanation for finishing 15th or lower in four of 10 races: rotten racing luck.

"Daytona, out of the box, we got crashed on the last lap after running in the top five and leading a lot of laps," he said. "At Texas we got crashed [while] leading the race with 30 to go. [At] Iowa we cut down a right-front tire leading the race. I just think that's bad luck when you put yourself in position to win the race and you have something go wrong. Some of that stuff's out of your control."

Perhaps Buescher's luck is changing. In the previous race at Chicagoland, the No. 31 Chevrolet team was able to swap out a carburetor in a little more than three minutes and come from two laps down to win for the second time in the past three races.

"I expected to go three laps down," admitted crew chief Michael Shelton. "At that point, I said, 'OK, we're going to be lucky to get a top-10 out of this.' But James' determination took over. Once we were able to get back on the lead lap we made another stop. We were really loose and kind of took a big swing at it. The changes we made were dead on."

More likely than luck, the perseverance at Chicagoland was a sign of a young team maturing into a threat to win every week.

"The biggest thing is the evolution that Turner Motorsports has made, constantly developing and making things better," says Buescher, who is literally part of the family. In January he married team owner Steve Turner's daughter, Kris.

"There's been a lot of time and effort put into it and we're getting [to reap] the benefits now. We do a lot of R&D and a lot of testing and spend a lot of time trying to fine-tune. It's just a progression."

If there's any aspect of Buescher's game that could use improving, it's qualifying. He's started no better than third in any race this season.

That's a factor that could come into play in Saturday's Pocono Mountains 125. Each of the first two Truck races at Pocono have been won from the pole -- by Elliott Sadler in 2010 and Kevin Harvick in '11.

"We got three poles last year," Buescher said. "Nelson [teammate Piquet Jr.] has gotten a pole this year. Miguel [teammate Paludo] won a pole this year. All three of us qualified in the top three at Daytona.

"But if you have a fast race truck and you're able to make passes and be really comfortable on the track in race trim, that's the part that matters most. If you can qualify in the top five without putting a whole lot of emphasis on it, then you're in position to be up front. At places where it's really tough to pass we'll put more emphasis on it."

Shelton, 40, was the first employee Turner Motorsports hired when it decided to go Truck racing after the 2009 season. Shelton had worked with Buescher in ASA and late models in 2006 and thought long and hard about leaving his job with Joe Gibbs Racing for a chance to reunite. He encountered an essentially empty shop when he walked into Turner's former Mooresville, N.C., headquarters.

"When I arrived we needed some people, some equipment," Shelton said. "At that point we were going to be a one-truck team and run some late-model cars. Before we knew it, we were a two-truck team and it's grown from there."

Buescher, who hails from Plano, Tex., is very much part of the building process at Turner, which has moved into more productive facilities and gone from buyer to provider within the industry.

"When we started, we were outsourcing chassis, bodies engines, transmissions, gear boxes," Buescher said. "Now, were subbing engines, drive trains. We're building our own chassis, hanging our own bodies. We have our own paint and body shop. We're geared up to be able to build more of that stuff."

Although Turner Motorsports fielded Bill Elliott's car for a Sprint Cup one-off at Daytona in July, Buescher is convinced his father-in-law is committed to success in the Nationwide and Truck series, at least for now.

"He wants to win championships, win races,'' Buescher says. "I don't think he has the aspiration to go Sprint Cup racing, at least with any full-time schedule."

Of course, that could change given the progression of Buescher's career. If Buescher has his druthers, he'll be taking the next step, moving to the Nationwide Series in 2013.

"I wouldn't say it's impossible that I'll be back in Trucks next year. But I would like to move up to Nationwide, full time," Buescher says. "Don't get me wrong, I think Truck racing is a lot of fun and I have a great time doing it, but you've got to keep climbing the ladder and I feel like I've spent enough time in the Trucks. It's time to climb that ladder. We just have to find the sponsorship and funding to do it.

"I feel like I've accomplished most of my goals for this year, already. My biggest goals were to win races in both series and win the championship in Truck. We're on track to do that. On the Nationwide side we have a lot of room for improvement. We've yet to be able to drive up to the lead and kind of dominate a race. That just hasn't happened for us. But when we're having a good weekend [in Truck] we feel like we can show up to the race track every week and win."

For all the early season misfortune in Trucks, Buescher did benefit from last-lap mayhem to post his first Nationwide Series victory in the season opener at Daytona.

"We joked about it after the race," Buescher recalled. "Daytona was not good on Friday when we crashed the truck. Saturday wasn't looking good until the last lap. I led a bunch of laps in the Truck race and crashed. We didn't lead at all in the Nationwide race until the last 100 yards and won the race."

Shelton says Buescher has the right attitude to roll with the fortunes and misfortunes and to succeed.

"He comes to the track, every week, determined to win," Shelton said. "Everybody on the team does. We're pretty much not accepting anything less. If we're not at least in contention to win, it's not a good weekend for us."