James Buescher 2013 Year in Review
December 26, 2013, Zack Albert, NASCAR.com
This is the fourth in a series of 2013 Camping World Truck Series driver recaps that will be featured on NASCAR.com.
James Buescher was the only driver with a shot at a specific feat of history last season, an accomplishment that hasn't been achieved in the 19-year existence of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series -- back-to-back championships.
Buescher righted himself after a slight stumble out of the starting blocks, but couldn't make the inroads necessary to unseat eventual champion Matt Crafton. He'll make the move to the NASCAR Nationwide Series in 2014, right on the heels of his 2013 third-place finish in the truck tour.
"You know, we got off to a slow start. It definitely had its ups and downs," Buescher said. "I felt the way the second half of our season went, if we'd had a decent first part of the year, we'd be able to repeat what we did last season. It's been a trying season, for sure, and a lot of things have happened, on the race track and in my personal life, that just changed everything in my life. It's been a fun year for me."
The off-track developments Buescher alluded to include the birth of his first child, Stetson, on July 26. Buescher and his wife, Kris, brought their son to his first race at Michigan International Speedway just 22 days later. At that point in the season, Buescher ranked fourth in the standings, but had just two top-five finishes through the first 11 races.
Good luck charm or not, Buescher rallied to win at Michigan, vaulting the No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports team back into championship contention and touching off a stirring celebration with their newborn son in tow.
"It's definitely different than any Victory Lane experience we've ever had, including the championship last year," the 23-year-old Texas native said. "It was an exciting moment for us, and something we'll never forget, for sure."
Three races later, Buescher closed in more and shed a stumbling block in the process. Surviving a flurry of late-race restarts in an overtime finish, Buescher finally notched a win at Iowa Speedway, breaking through in his 13th career start across all forms of stock-car racing.
"I've raced there since the second year the track was open several times a year and had so many races slip away from me there that I felt like if anywhere on the circuit owed me one, Iowa and Texas probably owe me more than anywhere -- if you can say a race track owes you," Buescher said. "These things are hard to win, and to be able to get to Victory Lane, we played a really good strategy at Iowa and that was pretty cool as well."
The triumph entrenched Buescher in second place in the series standings, but he was still 37 points behind the steady Crafton with seven races left in the year. Buescher would get no closer, losing a substantial portion of his momentum in a crash-related 26th-place effort at Talladega Superspeedway.
"We did a good job of chipping away at it for a while, and then the end of the season we took a big chunk out, to the point that I think that they were starting to get nervous," said Buescher, who wound up just three points behind series runner-up Ty Dillon at season's end. "Then we had two bad races and what we gained was lost. It was unfortunate, but that's kind of the way our season started off, so the fact that it ended that way wasn't real surprising, but we did have some highlights in the middle of it."
The transition for Buescher will be twofold in 2014. On Dec. 13, he announced he'll be entering his first full-time season in the Nationwide Series, and he'll be doing it with a multiyear deal with a new team -- RAB Racing -- after opting to leave the racing operation run by his father-in-law. With his plans still unsettled at the time of the series' awards banquet, Buescher was coy about his options.
"We're waiting to figure out what everything is," he said Nov. 18. "Regardless, I'll be in a race car in a NASCAR series and hopefully be winning races and competing for championships."
When asked if he had unintentionally tipped his hand by saying car instead of truck, Buescher laughed. "I mean. ... We all slip up and call trucks cars all the time."