BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — Defending champion James Buescher raced to his first NASCAR Trucks Series victory of the season Saturday, passing Kyle Busch to take the lead with three laps remaining at Michigan International Speedway.
Busch led out of a restart with six laps to go in the 200-mile, 100-lap race. Brendan Gaughan was pressuring Busch at the front when Buescher was able to pass to the inside of both.
Buescher, the Trucks Series champion last year, hadn’t finished higher than third this season.
When Buescher crossed the finish in his No. 31 Chevrolet, he was a half-second ahead of Busch, who barely held off Ty Dillon for second.
It was Busch’s fourth second-place finish in seven Trucks Series starts at MIS, where he’s never won on this circuit.
Beckman leads NHRA qualifying
BRAINERD, Minn. (AP) — Defending Funny Car series champion Jack Beckman raced to his second consecutive No. 1 qualifying position at Brainerd International Raceway, topping the field Saturday in the Lucas Oil NHRA Nationals.
Beckman earned his second straight No. 1 qualifying position of the season with a pass of 4.038 seconds at 313.37 mph in his Dodge Charger.
“We’ve got a brand new car that only has four runs on it and two of them were low E.T. of the session,” Beckman said. “There is no guarantee when you qualify No. 1. Theoretically, you stack the odds a little bit in your favor. Other than that, it is just bragging rights.
Clay Millican led the Top Fuel field, and Vincent Nobile topped the Pro Stock qualifiers.
Millican earned his second qualifying position of the season with his pass of 3.773 at 326.63. Nobile retained the top spot from Friday night with a 6.580 at 209.43.
Veteran picked as honorary starter
BROOKLYN, Mich. (AP) — A U.S. Army veteran and Purple Heart recipient from Ohio has been selected as the honorary starter for the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR race after his hope of honoring his 6-year-old son on race day resonated with voters in an online contest, organizers said Wednesday.
David Balestrino Jr. of Youngstown won the contest on the Pure Michigan Facebook page, getting hundreds of votes for his entry on why he wanted to honor Brady by waving the green flag today at Michigan International Speedway.
Pure Michigan is the state’s tourism campaign.
“While serving in Iraq I missed the entire first year of Brady’s life,” Balestrino said in a statement. “That was the most difficult thing I ever had to go through.” With the honor, he said, he hopes he “can make everyone who has served or is still serving proud.”
Balestrino served as a combat engineer from 2003-2009 and received a Purple Heart during service in Iraq. For the contest, people submitted entries of 50 words or less explaining why they should be selected as honorary starter. His entry got more than 800 votes.