McReynolds, Doug Rice, and Pat Patterson highlighted some impressive teams and drivers during the November 29 episode of SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “On Track.” There were multiple options that made the list, such as Erik Jones and the No. 43 team, but McReynolds wanted to take some time to discuss his honorable mention.
“Chris Buescher over there at RFK Racing and that 17 car,” McReynolds said. “And not just because of getting a win. But quite honestly, Doug, if you’d told me there were going to be 19 winners this year, and I started writing them down, I’m not sure Chris Buescher would have been one that I would have written down.”
Buescher Kept the No. 17 Car Competitive Throughout 2022
The 2022 season was the first for RFK Racing after Brad Keselowski joined Roush Fenway Racing as a driver-owner. He became the new driver of the No. 6 Ford Mustang, and he helped the organization kick off the Next Gen era.
The season did not play out as Keselowski hoped, at least not according to his preseason goals. Neither driver reached the playoffs, nor was Keselowski able to win the Daytona 500 or the Cup Series race at Michigan International Speedway.
There were times of struggles for RFK Racing in 2022, but Buescher continued to turn heads throughout the season. He set career-best marks across the board by winning his first Busch Light Pole and reaching double-digits in top-10 finishes.
Buescher also set a new career-high with three top-fives while also winning his second career Cup Series race. Finally, he led more than 100 laps for the first time in his full-time Cup Series career that dates back to 2016.
Keselowski Remained Vocal With His Praise in 2022
Buescher has been a key figure at RFK Racing since the start of the 2020 season. He replaced Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 17 Ford, and he has since gone on to secure 26 top-10 finishes, six top-fives, and one win for the team.
The executives at RFK Racing had faith in Buescher, but he had a new figure weighing in during the 2022 season. Keselowski also had a say in whether he would continue to control the No. 17 in the coming years.
The driver-owner was vocal in his support of Buescher from the very beginning. He quickly made sure that the team gave Buescher a contract extension to keep him in the No. 17, and he made strong comments about the veteran driver’s ceiling.
“Chris is an amazing race car driver,” Keselowski told PRN’s Garage Pass during the May trip to Dover Motor Speedway. “If we get him in the equipment he needs to run up front, he’ll win races. Chris Buescher and Ross Chastain are so similar. Just a matter of getting them in the right equipment.”
Buescher proved Keselowski correct by winning the elimination race at Bristol Motor Speedway after leading 169 laps. He also surprised Larry McReynolds while increasing the expectations for himself and RFK Racing as a whole heading toward the 2023 Cup Series season.