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Chris Buescher on the big Christmas present Santa Roush gave him

O'Reilly Auto Parts 300 - Qualifying

FORT WORTH, TX - APRIL 12: Chris Buescher, driver of the #16 EcoBoost Ford, talks to team owner Jack Roush on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway on April 12, 2013 in Fort Worth, Texas. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images for Texas Motor Speedway)

Jerry Markland

NASCAR team owner Jack Roush just gave Chris Buescher the biggest Christmas present he’s ever received in his life.

In the course of forging a new technical and performance alliance in 2016 with Front Row Motorsports, Santa Roush sweetened the pot by making Buescher part of the deal as the new driver of the No. 34 Ford.

As a result, the 2015 Xfinity Series champion now will be a full-time rookie in 2016 in the Sprint Cup Series with Front Row.

“Things happen quick around here, I’ve learned that through the years,” Buescher said Thursday morning on The Morning Drive on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It’s definitely exciting for it to come together now. There were a lot of things circulating and rumors … but it’s finally played out.

“We feel a little bit better going into next year. It’s relieving. Even though it’s been a quick turnaround time, it’s very stressful not knowing what you’re doing next year, where you’re going to be racing at or how often. This is very relieving news and very exciting news.”

And while Buescher will be driving for Front Row, he will still be linked at the hip to RFR.

“I definitely will be in a Ford as we move forward and with Roush Fenway Racing,” Buescher said. “We’re not cutting any ties in the process, we’re creating new ones. It’s to help out multiple parties.”

Buescher will not be a new face at Front Row. He competed in six Sprint Cup races for the organization in 2015, with a best finish of 20th in his first start early in the season at Fontana, Calif.

Front Row has had growing pains and struggles over the years. It formed in 2005 as a part-time team, moved to full time in 2009 and earned its first and only Sprint Cup win with David Ragan at Talladega in 2013.

To date, FRM has made a combined 668 starts in the Sprint Cup Series with one win, four top-fives, nine top-10s and one pole. Its best single-season finish was 26th with David Gilliland in 2013.

But Buescher is optimistic that the new technical partnership with Ford and Roush Fenway Racing will pay dividends to FRM going forward.

“It is a newer team, it is a smaller team, but it’s a team that’s still building,” Buescher said. “In the last 10, 20 years, I don’t think you’ve seen anybody come into this sport and be dominant right off the truck. It’s going to be a building process.

“We’re going to have the alliance with Roush, a little better communication between Ford teams, which is exciting, and I think it’s a way to build it up. There’s always challenges when you move … there’s going to be a learning curve. It won’t be easy, but it’ll be fun and interesting.

“It’s nice having the communication open already over there and I know a lot of people there and it will make the transition easier.”

One person Buescher knows quite well is his crew chief in the Xfinity Series, Scott Graves, who will be joining Buescher in the same role at Front Row.

“That was a big part of this,” Buescher said. “It’s so important to keep the chemistry and you see the guys that are successful have had long relationships. It’s important to be together and have that foundation, at least. Not everything is new. There’ll be something to bounce back off of.”

While he’ll be focused on Sprint Cup, there is a possibility Buescher still might run some Xfinity races in 2016 as well.

“I’d love to run more Xfinity races,” Buescher said. “It’s as important as ever to get as much seat time as possible right now, especially with no testing. If everything comes together, I’ve expressed an interest in it and I know Roush is open to it. It’s going to take the right circumstances and sponsorship, as well.”

Buescher will join 2014 Xfinity champ Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney and Brian Scott as Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year contenders.

“Those are the same guys we’ve been racing against for a long time,” Buescher said. “It’s cool that we’ve all been able to make it this far.

“If you look back just five to eight years ago, we were all racing late models and Legends cars at local short tracks and that we’ve made it all to this point. We just can’t get away from each other. It’s a good thing we get along.”

Buescher said he learned of the new deal just a few days ago: “Roush said, ‘You’re getting ready to be busy,’ so here we are.”

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