JTG Daugherty team co-owner Brad Daugherty called Wednesday a “tough day” for the organization following the news of Chris Buescher’s impending departure.
News they were not expecting.
“We had somewhat of an idea the last day and a half that this could possibly happen,” Daugherty told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “We didn’t understand why it would happen. [We were] working very hard, going back and forth, trying to get our numbers together, trying to get the contract done; and we get up today and find out he’s going to go in a different direction. So, yeah, totally caught us off guard because we were already building stuff for next season as everybody else does and getting ready and preparing.
“We were in the throes of trying to put something significant together and thought we had it done and pretty close to it, and things change just like that.”
Buescher will head back to Roush Fenway Racing, where he won the 2015 Xfinity Series championship, and replace Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the No. 17 Ford. That leaves open the No. 37 Chevrolet at JTG, which Buescher has been driving for three seasons.
“This catches you by surprise — this late in the year especially,” said Daugherty. “You try to be as professional as you possibly can about how you handle these situations. I don’t ever blame any athlete if he thinks he’s putting himself in a situation that’s going to be better for him or his family; got no problem with that. It’s just for us it’s always the timing. Getting this late in the season when you have commitments, it makes it very, very difficult to swallow this easily. Yeah, a lot of times people say, ‘Take the high road’ and ‘Do this and do that’. We’ll just say it’s a very, very difficult time to go through this, but we have very smart people who work at our company, we’ll figure it out. We just wish the timing could have been different — a little more flexible towards us — but it’s not working out that way.
In a long message posted on Twitter explaining his move, Buescher expressed his gratitude:
“…This news also brings sadness that my time at JTG Daugherty Racing driving the No. 37 will come to an end in 2019. I am forever grateful to Tad and Jodi Geschickter, Brad Daugherty, and Gordon Smith for giving me the opportunity to drive for them over the past three years.
“I am thankful for Competition Director Ernie Cope, and the 120 or so great employees at JTG/D that work tirelessly to afford myself and Ryan Preece, a great friend and teammate, the equipment to compete at a high level. With phenomenal leadership from Crew Chief Trent Owens this year, the No. 37 Team has exceeded expectations with great overall results and I intend to finish the year off strong and strive to bring JTG/D a win.
“I am further thankful to the excellent marketing partners at JTG/D that support the team and enable us as racers to do the thing we all enjoy the most. I have developed friendships with many of our marketing partners and I am going to miss spending time with them weekly because they are just great people.”
“So, Chris will move on and do his thing,” Daugherty commented. “We put a lot of time and resources into Chris; we think we helped him become a better race car driver. So as he moves on, we’ll look for the next young man or young woman who wants to get in our race car and try to help us build what we’re trying to accomplish, which is winning races on and being successful off [the track] business-wise.”
Since joining JTG, Buescher has earned 10 top-10 finishes and two top-five finishes. He has finished 25th and 24th, respectively, the last two years in the points standings, and is 20th going into the Charlotte road course this weekend.
Daugherty acknowledged the tough part about finding a new driver will be weighing what experience he or she may have.
“Tad (Geschickter, co-owner) does an unbelievable job at keeping our company (moving) along financially with tremendous sponsorship opportunities, and we see ourselves as a company that likes to give people a chance,” he said. “We’ve done that with Ryan Preece … you always like to have, since Ryan’s a rookie, a veteran to go with that; I think that’s what helps makes us work. I think it’d be difficult to have two guys or someone in the series with Ryan that doesn’t have experience. That would be absolutely miserable at times.
“We’d like to find someone with experience so we can continue to grow; we think we’ve taken good steps with that 37 car this year — really positive steps — and so we’d like to continue that. We don’t want to go backward. It’s a tough situation to be in as an owner and as a team, but we’re pretty resilient. We’ll figure it out, and we’re going to give somebody a heck of an opportunity.”