Buescher Leads the Way at Berlin
August 12, 2012 | 12:54 A.M. EST
Buescher led the final 17 laps and took the checkered flag in Saturday night's ARCA Racing Series event in Marne, Mich. (Photo: ARCA)
MARNE, Mich. - Over the first 160 laps run at Berlin Raceway on Saturday night, the story centered on just how long the ARCA Racing Series field could stay under green.
At the end, the story was a familiar one as Chris Buescher drove to another short-track victory in the Berlin ARCA 200 Presented by Hantz Group. The win is his third of 2012 and the eighth of his career, giving Buescher a sweep of the series' Michigan events after a superspeedway victory at Michigan International Speedway two months ago.
Buescher led the final 17 laps and 40 overall in his No. 17 Ruolo Brothers Racing Ford. The race featured just two cautions for 14 laps, and none until Lap 161 - with just under 20 percent of the race remaining. Buescher passed Erik Jones on Lap 184 for his final move to the front, eventually extending his advantage to a 2.739-second victory margin.
With the win, Buescher assumes the points lead in the ARCA Racing Series, edging Brennan Poole - who finished ninth. Buescher now leads Poole by 35 points. Frank Kimmel, who finished second Saturday night, is 70 points from the lead.
Pole sitter Chad Hackenbracht led the first six laps before being passed by Buescher, who led until Lap 31. It was on Lap 32 that the 16-year-old Jones, making his fourth start across numerous series at Berlin this season, took the lead in his home state.
Kimmel, who started fourth, snuck by for the lead at Lap 50 and began to show the same dominance he exhibited in winning his 75th career race just two weeks ago. He lapped Chase Elliott, leaving just seven of the 29 cars that started on the lead lap with the race not yet at its mid-point.
Kimmel led by three seconds at Lap 90 and twice that at the halfway point 10 laps later, stretching the lead to 10 seconds as early as Lap 114 and as late as Lap 120. At that point, he began to conserve his car as it became evident that green-flag racing could continue for a long time. A pit stop under fast conditions would be harmful and Kimmel knew it.
As he slowed, Elliott began to move toward the front. At one point three laps down, he passed Kimmel several times and moved onto the lead lap at Lap 146. By then, Kimmel's advantage over Mason Mitchell was just over three seconds.
Just four cars were on the lead lap with 50 to go and Elliott was the one charging the hardest. He moved into second place on Lap 155 and passed Kimmel for the lead on Lap 159. Just as Lap 161 started, a car spun on the frontstretch to produce the race's first caution.
The green flag flew on Lap 170 with Elliott leading Jones, Kimmel, Mitchell, and Buescher. Elliott and Jones had only taken two tires while Kimmel had taken four. Elliott maintained the lead for the first several green-flag laps, but Jones passed him on Lap 173.
Another caution flag flew quickly, at Lap 176. Buescher charged to the outside on the ensuing restart while Kimmel went inside, but Jones maintained a slight lead. He could not hold Buescher back, though, and the Roulo Brothers Racing driver passed him on Lap 184. Kimmel made his way to second but could not pass Buescher as the 19-year-old pulled away over the final laps.
Buescher joins Alex Bowman as a three-time winner in the series this season. Bowman, who is fourth in points, finished 13th. Not only did Poole lose the points lead, he also lost most of the front of his car in a last-lap crash with Ricky Ehrgott. Neither driver was injured.
Jones finished third, his third top-five in eight starts this year. Tom Hessert ended the race fourth after battling back onto the lead lap, edging Mitchell. Clint King finished sixth. Elliott wound up seventh, topping Matt Lofton, Poole and Hackenbracht.
Dirt racing is up next for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, with the Allen Crowe 100 taking place next Sunday, August 19, at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield.