The restrictor-plate superspeedways are well-known for their kindness to dark horses. It can be difficult to predict which of them will be most successful, but it is valuable when a driver backs up one strong run with another. Chris Buescher charged from 21st to fifth in last year’s Daytona 500. In July, he repeated the feat with another fifth following a 25th-place qualification effort. He almost scored another top-10 at Talladega in April with an 11th.
That pair of Daytona results were the highlight of his season, but he was far from irrelevant from a fantasy standpoint. The No. 37 JTG-Daugherty Racing team finished 24th in the owner standings. Another way to think about that is they were the eighth-best team that did not make the playoffs.
With another season under their belt, the team should be just a little better in 2019. This year we have Buescher seeded 23rd largely because they finished in that same range or better two-thirds of the time last year. With the loss of AJ Allmendinger in the team car, Buescher becomes the elder statesman of the JTG-Daugherty and as a result, he may have much more confidence next year.
It is unlikely that the No. 37 will be an early choice any weekend other than on the big tracks. Last year, 19 of his 28 top-25 finishes landed between 16th and 25th. Still, he was a particularly good value when he qualified outside of that mark and earned positive place-differential points. That happened in seven races.
Buescher can also be a surprisingly good value at random times. He has earned top-10 finishes on six different tracks during his NASCAR Cup career and they run the gamut of sizes and types. He drove to a solid fifth at Bristol in 2016 and has sixth-place finishes on the unrestricted, intermediate speedways of Kansas Speedway and Michigan International Speedway (both from 2017).
Three Best Tracks
Darlington (15.7 in 3 attempts)
Indianapolis (16.0 in 3)
Las Vegas (19.8 in 4)
Three Worst Tracks
Phoenix (28.8 in 6)
Richmond (27.2 in 6)
Auto Club (27.0 in 4)
Victories: None (Best finish = 5th – in both Daytona races)
Top-fives: 2 (.055)
Top-10s: 2 (.055)
Top-15s: 9 (.250)
2018 Finishes at or above their rank? = 24 (61.1%)