Associated Press, Published February 25 2012
Buescher avoids late crash, wins DRIVE4COPD 300DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It turned into just a matter of survival.
James Buescher avoided the third major crash of the day on the final lap to capture Saturday’s DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway.
“They all piled up in front of me, and we made it through,” Buescher said. “It’s hard to describe the feeling when you make it through the wreck and you’re the only guy.”
The 31-year-old maneuvered his No. 30 FOE Chevrolet through an 11-car wreck in Turn 4 that knocked out the lead cars and opened the door for Buescher to claim his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win.
“It’s hard to put into words,” said Buescher, who is running a partial schedule and is ineligible for series points.
Brad Keslowski, who wrecked in Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, found much better luck Saturday.
“The wreck was huge for us in the end,” said Keslowski, who is also running a partial series season. “I feel like I won the lottery to just finish third.”
Actually, it was second. After reviewing the tape, NASCAR determined Keslowski finished ahead of Elliott Sadler, who finished third.
“It was normal Daytona,” said Sadler, who took over the early points lead in the series. “It was all luck.”
Under partly cloudy skies and cooler temperatures, the estimated crowd of 82,000 fans spent most of the race waiting for that one big wreck and Daytona didn’t disappoint.
A multicar wreck on Lap 103 involving 19 cars was the first of three major wrecks – including the final one – which took its toll on the 43-car field in the 120-lap, 300 mile race.
That wreck forced NASCAR to red-flag the race to clean up the debris.
After the restart, caution came out again when 14 cars hooked up 10 laps later on Turn 4, forcing the field to regroup.
The race featured eight cautions, including one that took out Danica Patrick.
Patrick, competing in her first full season in the series, started the race on the pole, but her day went downhill from there.
Her No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet got bumped into the wall by Cole Whitt on Lap 49.
She managed to get her car back to pit row before her crew pushed it back to the garage to make major repairs. She returned to the track on Lap 96 and finished the race in 38th place.
“More than anything, I’m just frustrated because the GoDaddy.com car was just so fast, and I could keep up with tandem cars in front of me all by myself,” Patrick said following the race. “I thought it was a lot of fun and quite chaotic up until the end. Hopefully, the fans were entertained.”
Defending champion Tony Stewart appeared to be on his way to the record books with his seventh Nationwide Series win at Daytona – tying a record held by Dale Earnhardt Sr. – however, the 40-year-old got caught up with Kurt and Kyle Busch in the final-lap crash.
After it was all said and done, Kurt Busch finished in 10th place, with brother Kyle finishing in 18th place