July 11, 2012The day was hot, and James Buescher burned the field to win the second annual Unoh 225 at Kentucky Speedway June 28 in the first of a three-day race weekend.
It was a day where qualifying saw the air temperature climb to 101 degrees and the track temperature to 130 degrees. By race time, the temperature had dropped to 98 degrees, with a track temperature of 117 setting a new record. The changing conditions were something Buescher was thinking about going into the night's race.
"I was concerned about it," he said after his win. "I was hoping it would just gain grip. Overall, we kept our truck pretty neutral at the end of practice. For me, it seemed like it got a little bit looser into Turn 3 and tighter off Turn 4. I think it just gained grip in those areas of the track … I think we had a pretty good balance all night long. We didn't have to make many adjustments throughout the race going from day to night. We just made small adjustments here and there."
Buescher was on the inside of row two to begin the race but fell back to fifth at the drop of the green flag. Matt Crafton jumped in front with a 1.8-second lead over Johnny Sauter after 10 laps. That lead lasted until Lap 19, when John Wes Townley spun out in Turn 4 backing into the wall for the night's first caution.
James Buescher celebrates his win after beating Brad Keselowski by 3.805 seconds in the Unoh 225.
The second caution came on the restart when Todd Bodine spun in the middle of the field, nearly setting off the "big one." Somehow the field avoided Bodine, who stayed in the race as he just needed four tires after the slide.
Buescher went in front on the restart on Lap 27 and built a 2.054-second lead over Parker Kligerman after 50 laps. The extended green flag run allowed Brad Keselowski, who started the race in 17th place, to make his way up through the field to fifth.
"I thought the track stayed pretty consistent," Keselowski said. "I thought they were as good as they could be. It's good that the track has got two definite grooves. That's great. I like that."
More cautions came, the fifth of the race involving Bodine again, this time with Nelson Piquet Jr. and Justin Lofton. Lofton got the better deal of the three, as he remained on the lead lap while Bodine and Piquet sustained more serious damage.
Buescher continued to lead through Lap 100 with a 1.421-second advantage over Joey Coulter. Four laps later, Tim George Jr. plowed into the Turn 4 wall, bringing out the sixth caution of the night. There were two lead changes as trucks hit the pits, Matt Crafton for Lap 104 and Ty Dillon for Lap 105.
Buescher took over on the restart, however, flying around Dillon in Turn 3 and began to pull away from everybody with 15 circuits to go, as he extended his advantage to 2.542 seconds.
Keselowski moved around Dillon for second place and tried to chase down Buescher, who was too far ahead and went on to get a 3.805-second win. Dillon was third and Crafton fourth. Timothy Peters rounded out the top five.
"I knew halfway through the first practice we had a truck capable of running up front and possibly getting a win," Buescher said. "The second practice we found some more speed again, so I was pretty excited to take Exide Battery truck to Victory Lane."
"To lead that many laps and dominate like that says a lot about the capabilities of this race team," he said. "We've had some struggles this year that came when we were running up front and just had some bad luck. So, it's nice to know we're back in the championship hunt. We were never really out of it, but we were at a distance, so I'm glad we closed that gap up."
Buescher said the combination of truck setup and track condition allowed him to use most of the track, both high and low.
"I could move around some," he said. "I passed a couple of people on the outside, and most of the night I tried to go on the inside. You always have to do that in these trucks with the way the right side works. It moves around pretty easily. Our truck was pretty solid all night long, and I wasn't going to do it unless I felt like I could pull it off. Late in the race, I did feel like I could move around."
Keselowski said the race came to him as it went on but time just ran out before he could get the job done.
"It was a good fight to get from 17th to second but not quite good enough to get the win," he said. "We've just got to keep working to get the job done. We were getting good restarts … We gained spots through those sections. We had that one green flag run where we gained a handful of spots. We were gaining a handful of spots on every run."
Dillon was the top rookie as he finished in third place.
"We had to change motors during practice," he said. "It left it a long day. It put me behind on getting our truck right and the way we wanted it. I thought we might have had something there for the leader, but it was just too tight and lost grip."
Peters' fifth-place finish did have a bright side as it moved the Toyota driver into the championship points lead.
"My problem all night was a lack of total grip," he said. "Towards the end, not only were we sliding the right front, but you had to be very careful getting in the corner. I couldn't get in the corner, so I just coasted back in from the top of the track. All night long we were on top of the race track."
1. James Buescher Chevrolet 150 Running
2. Brad Keselowski Dodge 150 Running
3. Ty Dillon* Chevrolet 150 Running
4. Matt Crafton Toyota 150 Running
5. Timothy Peters Toyota 150 Running
6. Johnny Sauter Toyota 150 Running
7. Joey Coulter Chevrolet 150 Running
8. Jason Leffler Toyota 150 Running
9. Ron Hornady Jr. Chevrolet 150 Running
10. Kyle Larson Chevrolet 150 Running
11. Jason White Ford 150 Running
12. Miguel Paludo Chevrolet 150 Running
13. Dakoda Armstrong* Toyota 150 Running
14. Justin Lofton Chevrolet 150 Running
15. David Starr Toyota 150 Running
16. Ryan Sieg Chevrolet 150 Running
17. Paulie Harraka* Ford 150 Running
18. Clay Greenfield Dodge 149 Running
19. Parker Kligerman Dodge 149 Running
20. Chris Fontaine Chevrolet 148 Running
21. Caleb Holman Chevrolet 147 Running
22. Brennan NewBerry Chevrolet 147 Running
23. Tyler Young* Chevrolet 145 Running
24. Tim George Jr. Chevrolet 143 Running
25. Cale Gale* Chevrolet 140 Running
26. Bryan Siles* Ford 134 Running
27. Jeff Agnew Chevrolet 104 Vibration
28. Todd Bodine Toyota 69 Accident
29. Nelson Piquet Jr. Chevrolet 68 Accident
30. Max Greshman* Chevrolet 63 Engine
31. Jake Crum Chevrolet 27 Accident
32. John Wes Townley* Toyota 16 Accident
33. Ross Chastain* Toyota 7 Engine
34. C.E. Falk Chevrolet 6 Handling
35. Dennis Setzer Chevrolet 4 Transmission
36. Scott Riggs Dodge 3 Overheating
Time of Race: 1 hour, 51 minutes, 16 seconds
Margin of Victory: 3.805 seconds
Average Speed: 121.330 mph
Lead Changes: 8 among 4 drivers
Most Laps Led: James Buesher-119
Cautions: 7 for 31 laps