Jan 12, 2014, 2:09 PM EDT
On the way to becoming a champion, there are points where you have to take a deep breath – and then, take a risk.
Now, James Buescher is already a past champion, having taken the Camping World Truck Series title in 2012. But the Nationwide Series newcomer, now driving the No. 99 RAB Racing Toyota, is aiming to one day achieve the ultimate glory for a stock car racer: Winning a Sprint Cup.
And so, he went ahead with the decision to move up to Nationwide and leave Turner Scott Motorsports, which is co-owned by his father-in-law, Steve Turner.
Between the solid equipment and the family ties, Buescher had it pretty good. But he wants more.
“I want to make it to the Sprint Cup level, and I want to be a Sprint Cup champion one day,” Buescher said yesterday during Nationwide testing at Daytona International Speedway.
“I have to make the moves in my career that are best for me, and I feel like coming over to RAB Racing and Toyota and being able to bring Rheem with me as a sponsor was the best situation for me to be in right now.”
In addition to getting used to a new team, Buescher is also having to contend with Nationwide’s higher level of competition in general. As he noted, there’s a higher number of Sprint Cup interlopers that drop in on Nationwide races than in the Trucks, and then there are the longer races as well.
But it’s not like he’s entering his first full-time Nationwide season with just a few scattered starts here and there. In fact, he’s made 58 starts in NASCAR’s No. 2 series across the last six seasons. The most he’s had in a single year during that span was 20 starts in 2012, a year that also saw him win the 300-mile Nationwide season opener at Daytona.
“I’ve raced plenty of Nationwide races in the past, so I feel like I’m going to get in the swing of things even faster than if I had only raced five or six Nationwide races,” he said. “But I’m excited to finally be full-time in the series, and it’s got its challenges, but I feel like I’m ready to tackle them.”
And even though he’s just become a regular in Nationwide, he sees no reason why he and RAB can’t fight for the series championship in their first year together.
“I feel like there’s a lot of speed in the 99 car,” he said. “They showed that last year. They’ve got a few poles, and they definitely showed a lot of speed just about every week. Coming over to a new team, it’s going to take some learning and there’s a lot of unknowns.
“We have to learn each other and I have to learn the cars and just the way things work and working with a new manufacturer. So I have a lot of unknowns, but I feel like we’ll be competitive for a championship.”