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Chris or Christopher? Buescher’s OK either way

Chris Buescher breaks down his performance in the 2022 Federated Auto Parts 400 and explains where he thinks things went wrong for him and his team.

During Sunday’s telecast of the NASCAR Cup Series race at Richmond Raceway, NBC Sports analyst Dale Earnhardt Jr. decided to call the driver known as Chris Buescher “Christopher.”

That’s Christopher as in Christopher Bell, who has never been known as Chris.

It’s a bit confusing, to be sure. But Buescher said Wednesday he’s had some fun with Earnhardt’s name game. And he added that one person -- his mother -- is particularly happy about it.

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“Before now, I was called Christopher when I was in trouble or by my wife, but I think probably the happiest person right now is my mom,” Buescher said. “The fact that everybody’s using the name that she gave me on my birth certificate and and finally got rid of the short name that I did so long ago. I always told her, ‘You gave me too long of a name.’ I’d still be writing my name, date and everything at the top of our assignments in school, and all the other kids would be getting done.

“So I just had to shorten it. It always bugged her just a little bit, so I think she’s been stoked to see it getting changed everywhere.”

And his preference?

“At this point it doesn’t bother me if anybody calls me Christopher or Chris,” he said. “I’ve been been called a lot worse.”

Buescher, who finished third last Sunday at Richmond Raceway, said his last name has caused more trouble over his racing years.

“I don’t think that it’s realistic to try and change my name at this point,” he said. “I’ve been trying really hard for probably close to 15 years in between ARCA and NASCAR racing to get my name correctly pronounced as Buescher. And that’s been long enough just trying to figure that one out. I didn’t change any spelling. I’m just trying to get the pronunciation correct. So if I try and add on a bunch of letters to my name now, it’ll be tough to get everybody on board.”

A bigger task for Buescher is trying to wedge his way into the Cup playoffs. He needs a win Sunday at Watkins Glen (3 p.m. ET on USA Network) or the following week at Daytona International Speedway to have a shot.

Buescher has run well on road courses in general but has had issues at Watkins Glen, where his best career finish is 11th (in 2017).

“I feel really strong about our opportunity and our chances,” he said. “I know what we’ve been able to do as an organization and what I’ve been able to do from behind the wheel at some of these other road courses, but Watkins Glen has also been one of those track position sensitive races for a lot of years, and I don’t expect change this year.

“So there will be a certain amount of getting your track (position) early and playing out some strong strategy, and then being in a spot where you’re racing hard with two or three cars versus trying to come through a pack from 15th or 20th deep,” he said. “Trying to figure out how to pass all those cars is just a really tough thing to do right now. With track position being so important, and the Glen historically being one of the worst road courses for that.”