HARRISBURG, N.C. — Chris Buescher already has something heading into 2018 that he’s never had before in his Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series career — peace of mind. That’s because the 24-year-old knows exactly where he’ll be next year, a measure of comfort that’s been foreign in the past.
“It is a little comforting to know we’ve got a place we can drive a race car at and a place we can call home,” Buescher said earlier this week at the JTG Daugherty racing shop.
Home is here for the 24-year-old, in this shop owned by Tad and Jodi Geschickter. Home is driving the No. 37 Chevrolet, and having AJ Allmendinger for a teammate.
It hasn’t always been so clean-cut for Buescher, the 2015 NASCAR XFINITY Series champion. He was under contract long-term with Roush Fenway Racing, but was in prime position for a Monster Energy Series ride following his championship XFINITY season.
So in 2016, he drove for Front Row Motorsports — and won at Pocono to make the postseason. This year he joined JTG as the team expanded to a two-car operation. In both instances, he still was under contract with Roush.
That changed in August when Tad Geschickter confirmed Buescher had signed a multiyear deal with JTG.
“What has been difficult about it is starting over every year with new people, new teams, new cars. There are no notebooks,” Buescher said. “That’s been probably the hardest part, starting over year in, year out. It takes time. It takes the first eight or 10 races of a season to really get in a rhythm.”
The rhythm has been found. Buescher enters Richmond — where he must win to make the postseason — on an upbeat melody.
Four of the past six races have resulted in finishes of 11th or better, including a ninth-place finish at Indianapolis and a sixth at Michigan.
It’s setting the table for a strong finish to 2017, but perhaps more importantly, to greater things to come in a future that is sharper for Buescher than it’s ever been before.
“When you look at next year and beyond, we’re going to keep building this thing up,” Buescher said. “Tad and Jodie are very excited about becoming a two-car team this season and I think they’re excited to build it up from here, whether it’s going out there and being more competitive and winning races, or if its adding four teams, I don’t know. We’re going to do what we can every week to get better.
“Everyone’s attention hasn’t shifted (to 2018), but it’s divided. There’s one eye keeping an eye on next season and what’s to come, and making sure we have what we need to be competitive. You can’t skip over the rest of 2017, but I feel like we’re in the right place to be able to plan ahead.”