No. 17 Castrol Edge Ford Leads 53 Laps at Kansas; Brad Keselowski Finishes 11th

KANSAS CITY (May 6, 2024) – Chris Buescher finished second Sunday in what was likely the most heartbreaking scenario possible, a photo finish that is now known as the closest in NASCAR’s history.

The No. 17 Castrol Edge Ford Mustang led 53 laps in total, won stage two, and took the white flag as the leader, but was scored second when all angles were reviewed by NASCAR late Sunday night at Kansas Speedway. Teammate Brad Keselowski finished 11th in what was an up-and-down afternoon for RFK altogether.

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“It sucks to celebrate on the backstretch and then pull up to the front straightaway and be told no,” Buescher said following the race. “I don’t know how everything transpired honestly. Not right now. It sucks in a lot of ways. Second hurts, a whole lot worse than third. To be that close a couple of times this year now and not be able to get the win, the speed is great and we did a good job today and was a good recovery from the end of Stage 2 there, but we don’t have a trophy right now.”

6 Recap
Keselowski and the No. 6 team experienced a rollercoaster race, one that was initially delayed by rain the area for several hours. Once the green flag eventually dropped just past 5 p.m. local time, Keselowski fired off 30th. He quickly began a surge through the field though, gaining 16 spots alone in the first stage to finish 14th at the end of the opening 80 laps.

Stage two ran caution-free as the Consumer Cellular Ford remained inside the top-15 the duration of the run, ultimately crossing the stripe 13th at the end of the stage (lap 165). From there, a flurry of cautions flew – three within 20 laps – as Keselowski lost spots on pit road due to various issues.

He fought back inside the top-15 by lap 199 when the yellow waved for the sixth time. With varying pit strategies playing out over the final 100 laps, Keselowski ultimately worked his way into the top-10 with a handful of laps remaining. The race looked to run green until the end, but a caution with five laps remaining changed everything.

Scored fourth at the time, Keselowski joined the field on pit road, taking four fresh tires with nearly 10 cars in front taking just two tires. That put the No. 6 just outside the top-10 on the final restart, and he went on to cross the line 11th.

17 Recap
Buescher experienced one of the better comeback efforts of the season, all in all leading the race four different times. A solid qualifying effort on Saturday put him 12th on the grid to start the 400-mile race.

Like teammate Keselowski, Buescher surged through the field early, advancing into the top five just 25 laps in. He drove to a fifth-place finish to end the first stage, earning key stage points early. He began stage two in the same position, and by lap 110 had driven to second. During a green-flag pit cycle around lap 120, Buescher inherited the lead and maintained it for the next 43 laps, driving to the stage two win, picking up a valuable playoff point.

In the ensuing pit stop in the stage break, the No. 17 team was called for a penalty (over-the-wall too soon), setting Buescher to the tail end of the field on the restart. What seemed like a feat too tall to overcome at the time, Buescher began his comeback trail with 93 laps remaining.

The flurry of three cautions between lap 177-193 allowed the No. 17 to knife through traffic. He again pitted from the 20th spot at lap 195 and would restart 27th at lap 198. One more caution just a lap later brought most of the field down pit road, splitting a handful of cars with varying strategy. This put Buescher back in position and P3 when the race went back green at lap 206. He took the lead again – this time from the No. 11 – at lap 208, just 40 laps after he last held it. He and the 11 swapped it a handful of times in that stretch of laps as Buescher tried different lines to again gain advantage.

Then, with just five laps to go, the race’s final caution was displayed which ultimately saved those in fuel-saving mode, and set up a final pit stop and restart. Buescher was one of nine lead cars to take two tires, putting him second on the NASCAR Overtime restart. He gained the advantage on the restart, took the white flag as the leader, and went toe-to-toe with the No. 5 to the line, earning the runner-up result.

“We got a great push,” Buescher added. “Chase got us a good restart and we got into the corner. We were able to run the bottom pretty well and we had some good momentum down the back but Kyle (Larson) certainly had a run.

“I was trying to cover what I could but we just left too much space around the top side. Unfortunately, that ended up getting us, and it hurts. It was a good race. We were banging doors all the way to the checkers. I knew it was going to be close but certainly it hurts to be that close and miss out.”

Up Next
Darlington Raceway hosts race No. 13 of the season next weekend. Race coverage is set for 3 p.m. next Sunday on FOX, with radio coverage on MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio (Channel 90).