James Buescher was back on familiar ground on Friday night at Kentucky Speedway: victory lane here is fast becoming a second home for the 22-year-old, who was last here as recently as June after dominating that race by leading 119 of 150 laps.
He didn't enjoy that sort of domination this time around, but a large part of that was a caution-strewn first half of proceedings which made it difficult for anyone to get a grip on the race. Even so, he would lead 64 of the 134 laps of the Kentucky 201 under the floodlights.
"You couldn't figure out the balance of the truck because of all the cautions," explained Buescher of problems early in the race. "It was difficult because at one point we kept having caution after caution."
The next-best tally was the 39 laps in the lead, which was the total achieved by polesitter Joey Coulter and 17 of which were at the very start of the race - during which time Buescher moved his way smartly up to second place from eighth on the grid - until the first caution of the evening came out for a spin by Todd Bodine coming out of turn 4 but fortunately not hitting anything in the process.
Bodine was not so fortunate at the restart, when Johnny Sauter promptly blew a tyre and spun. collecting not just Bodine but also Tim George Jr. in turn 4. While Bodine was unhurt, this time the damage to Bodine's truck was extensive and he was the main casualty of the race, unable to continue when the race eventually resumed after a lengthy clean-up.
Brian Scott had taken the lead of the race during this period ahead of Buescher who was still running in second, with Nelson Piquet Jr., Parker Kligerman and Coulter giving chase. Once again there was almost no time for racing before the yellows were out again for a third time - Bryan Silas had gone for a solo spin and brushed the wall in turn 2 - but it was enough for Buescher to have got his nose ahead of Scott and lead for the first time under the yellows.
The next green flag period from lap 42 lasted slightly longer - five laps - before another spinner brought out the next caution. This time it was Brennan Newberry losing the #14 in turn 3 which brought out the yellows again, during which time many of the leaders took the opportunity to pit while last week's race winner Ryan Blaney opted to stay out and inherited the lead for the restart ahead of Jason White, Justin Lofton, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Coulter and Ty Dillon.
Running in his back-up truck after a practice mishap earlier in the day, Blaney kept the lead into the next predictably rapid-onset caution on lap 55, this time for a turn 2 accident which saw former championship leader Timothy Peters make contact with Max Gresham which sent him into the wall, after which he was collected by John King as his truck slid back down the banking.
Coulter got the better of Blaney at the restart and retook the lead for the first time since that first caution on lap 17 and would lead the race for the next 22 laps of green flag running, until the penultimate caution of the race came out on lap 81 when Parker Kligerman got too close to the left rear of John Wes Townley, had to avoid contact and in the process lost control of the #7 and consequently spun on the front stretch.
James Buescher took point for the restart, and once installed in the lead he showed no signs of giving it up for the rest of the evening, not even when the seventh and final caution of the night came out on lap 108 for an accident for Jason White wrecking in the wall that put the race under caution for four laps.
After that it was clean sailing all the way to the finish for Buescher, who pulled away from Coulter, Dillon and Scott at the restart. They were joined by Parker Kligerman, who despite his spin on lap 81 had wasted no time storming his way back through the field and who emerged as the only real challenge to Buescher in the final laps, although ultimately he would fall short by over a second by the time the two-hour race finally reached its conclusion.
"We were so loose on restarts it really stopped us from stamping our authority," said Kligerman, who added that fuel stops had helped him get back to the front after his spin. "I tried to force the issue and spun out. From there, we were in recovery mode and passed a bunch of trucks on the restart. From there, we just tried to chase down the 31, and just came up a little short."
Having fulfilled his obligation to save some fuel under that final caution, the only other thing that could have upset Buescher's country cruise to the line was the weather, with forecasts suggesting that rain could play a factor. In the end, the skies cleared and the rain stayed away, and Buescher was able to celebrate in victory lane at Kentucky for the second time this year.
"I wouldn't say it was a dominating performance like the last time we were here," he conceded correctly. "But I think we led the most laps and dominated anyway," he said. It was all the more impressive given that Buescher had been under the weather with a mild dose of 'flu over the last three days.
Behind Kligerman, Ty Dillon came home in third place which means that he retains his lead in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship standings albeit by just 4pts over the rapidly closing Buescher, who will be hoping that he continue his run of form on the intermediate tracks with next week's outing at Las Vegas.
"We've won four races with the same truck and now we're going to dust it off and take it to another mile-and-a-half," said Buescher, with his eyes clearly set on not just another intermediate victory in seven days time but also wresting the lead of the series from Dillon in the process if he possible can, with just six races remaining in the 2012 season.
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