Chris Buescher did not look like a driver who finished inside the top 10 on the Indianapolis road course as he sat on the pit wall afterward. He had a cool towel to clean the dripping sweat from his face after a long hot day around the 14-turn course while his fire suit was covered in the remnants of the fire extinguisher that had to put out the fire in his No. 17 Ford in the first stage.
Buescher was on pit road on lap 13 when his car was suddenly engulfed in flame and smoke. Contact from Bubba Wallace into Turn 1 crushed essential parts and pieces on the car, resulting in the fire. After it was put out, the team did their best to clear the cockpit of smoke while Buescher struggled to see and breathe, through a dirty windshield and helmet visor.
“[I] wasn’t giving up. This team gave me way too good of a race car today to let somebody’s stupidity take us out that early,” Buescher told RACER of his 10th place finish. “I’m not going to make it a habit of staying inside cars that are on fire but kudos to this team for bringing such a good race car. Our Violet Defense Mustang was just fast, and we don’t have anything to show for it again.
“I got wiped out by [Wallace] in Turn 1, KO’d the exhaust and rocker box, and the car caught on fire for our first pit stop and had to battle back.”
Wallace said he apologized to Buescher for the contact.
“I went in and hit my brake point and thought I was good, and the next thing I knew, I blew through the corner,” Wallace said. “I don’t know if it was [the result of] the second lap on tires and green track, but I apologized.”
Buescher lost two laps while sitting on pit road for the fire, which was inside the car in the door foam, to be addressed. The worst part was the mess the fire extinguisher left behind as he said there was so much swirling around he needed the windshield to be wiped off.
“Again, the team did a good job of fixing that and losing minimal time, and then as we kept going, the vision got much better,” Buescher said. “But the fire collapsed some of our interior hoses, so we didn’t have any air moving inside like we usually would. Everything melted shut.
“So overall, not a fun day, but again, this was way too good of a race car to call it quits, and we’re going to end up with a top 10 out of it because of the perseverance of everybody on this team, so I’m proud of them.”
Despite finishing the race and driving his car back to pit road, Buescher was sent to the care center for evaluation. It was a trip he didn’t want to make but figured it wasn’t a bad idea. He was evaluated and released without issue.
Indianapolis was Buescher’s sixth top-10 finish of the season. It’s also his best result in two tries on the course.
“After all that, it’s insane,” he said. “It sucks; we just got flat wiped out into Turn 1 by the No. 23. I have no clue; haven’t seen it yet; don’t know what happened, but destroyed our day.”