Roush Fenway Racing’s Chris Buescher turned in a strong performance on Saturday, Aug. 28, taking second in the Coke Zero Sugar 400. However, the official results show that he finished 40th. The reason is that NASCAR disqualified him after the No. 17 failed post-race inspection.
The sanctioning body issued a press release after the race, noting that the Buescher’s stock car did not conform to the drawing in the NASCAR rule specifications regarding the track bar mounting assembly. Instead of walking away with his first top-five run of the season, Buescher ended the day behind every other driver in the field.
With the scoring adjustment, Bubba Wallace moved up to second and added another runner-up at Daytona International Speedway to his resume. Buescher’s teammate Ryan Newman moved from fourth to third and marked his best finish since taking fifth in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 29.
The Disqualification Disrupted a Big Day for RFR
The No. 17 team entered the regular-season finale on a mission to win and lock up the final spot in the playoffs, and they appeared within reach of accomplishing this goal. Buescher led eight laps and fought with Ryan Blaney for the win during the final race to the caution flag that ended the race. He also did so with a longtime supporter on the stock car.
RFR announced prior to the Aug. 28 race that Fifth Third Bank had agreed to an extension that will keep the company around for years to come. The sponsor that first became a primary for Matt Kenseth back in 2012 will return for 2022 and beyond as a primary for Buescher and RFR.
Now in his sixth full-time season, Buescher put Fifth Third Bank in the spotlight during one of the biggest races on the schedule. He brought extra attention to the sponsor at The World Center of Racing and created the belief that he could deliver a stunning win and reach the playoffs, completely shaking up the bottom of the playoff picture. Once the race came to an end, the situation completely changed.
The Season Now Continues With the 4-Round Playoffs
With the regular-season finale complete, the top 16 drivers in the standings will continue to pursue wins and the coveted spots in the championship four. Richard Childress Racing’s Tyler Reddick took the final available spot after recovering from significant damage to the No. 8 Chevrolet and finishing in the top five due to Buescher’s disqualification.
The playoffs will begin on Sunday, Sept. 5, at Darlington Raceway. The Round of 16 will continue at Richmond Raceway on Sept. 11 and then end at Bristol Motor Speedway on Sept. 18. The field will drop to 12 drivers for races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (Sept. 26), Talladega Superspeedway (Oct. 3), and the Charlotte Roval (Oct. 10).
Following the Round of 12, the field will drop to eight drivers for the final set of cutoff races. They will Texas Motor Speedway on Oct. 17, Kansas Speedway on Oct. 24, and Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 31 to set up one final showdown between the top four drivers. The championship race will take place on Sunday, Nov. 7, at Phoenix Raceway, determining the 2021 Cup Series champion.
Buescher and the other drivers below the cut line will not be eligible to compete in the playoffs during this final portion of the schedule. However, they will continue to suit up each week and fight for points to determine their final standing at the end of 2021.