NASCAR: Chris Buescher not the big winner at Daytona

Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Buescher, RFK Racing, Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images) /

Chris Buescher won three of the final five races on the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series regular season schedule, and he enters the playoffs looking like one of the favorites.

A month ago at this time, RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher had two career NASCAR Cup Series victories to his name and no playoff berths since his rookie season with Front Row Motorsports in 2016, when he qualified after winning a rain-shortened race at Pocono Raceway.

Skip ahead five races later, and Buescher has increased his career win total to five, winning three of the final five races of the regular season to enter the playoffs as the hottest driver in the series.

After winning back-to-back races at Richmond Raceway and Michigan International Speedway, Buescher earned his third win of the year to close out the regular season at Daytona International Speedway. The win was the first superspeedway victory of his career.

Buescher now has four victories in the last calendar year. Thanks to the playoff points he earned throughout the regular season via his stage win and race wins, plus his top 10 finish in the regular season standings (sixth place), a driver who once looked like an under-the-radar threat has emerged as a potential favorite to advance to the Championship 4.

He is set to open the playoffs in fourth in the standings.

But with all things considered, Chris Buescher wasn’t the single biggest winner of the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series regular season finale at Daytona.

That would be 23XI Racing’s Bubba Wallace, who locked up the 16th and final playoff spot. Wallace’s playoff berth is the first of his six-year career, and it did not come easily.

Wallace entered the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at the four-turn, 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked Daytona Beach, Florida oval sitting in the 16th spot in the provisional playoff picture. But two drivers, Joe Gibbs Racing rookie Ty Gibbs and Trackhouse Racing Team’s Daniel Suarez, had a chance to pass him on points.

Gibbs and Suarez were among 16 drivers who could have taken the spot away from Wallace by winning. This spot was the one and only playoff spot still up for grabs heading into the race.

After Gibbs was involved in a heavy wreck at the end of stage two, there was no longer a chance that anybody could pass Wallace on points. However, he would still be eliminated if there was a new winner who hadn’t yet clinched a playoff spot.

Drivers below the cut line seeking their first wins of the season ran up front pretty much all night. Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Chase Briscoe and Aric Almirola and Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott were contenders throughout the 163-lap race.

But with Buescher, already a two-time race winner in 2023, emerging as the victor after leading only two laps, Wallace secured his playoff spot on points.

FanDuel Sportsbook, which is giving fans $200 for signing up and betting $5, lists Joe Gibbs Racing’s Martin Truex Jr. as the championship favorite.

Odds and availability are subject to change, so lock in your $200 now!

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The Cook Out Southern 500 is scheduled to get the 2023 NASCAR Cup Series playoffs underway this Sunday, September 3. It is set to be broadcast live on USA Network from Darlington Raceway starting at 6:00 p.m. ET. Begin a free trial of FuboTV today and don’t miss it!