After working their way up from a 20th-place starting position to race much of the Kroger 250 inside the top five, James Buescher and the No. 31 Rheem Chevy slipped back in the pack during a late race green-flag run. Buescher patiently picked his way through the field throughout the 250-lap race and looked like a threat for the victory on Saturday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway. During a late race green-flag stretch, Buescher, who was on older tires than most of the field, got caught up on the outside groove and slipped back and finished in 14th place at Martinsville Speedway.
During the nearly two-hour practice session on Friday morning, the No. 31 Rheem team came in with a plan from their test session just a couple weeks prior. The Rheem team spent most of the practice session working on race setups and possible in-race adjustments for the No. 31 Chevrolet Silverado. Just before the practice session ended, Buescher was able to make a mock qualifying run, placing the No. 31 in the 16th position on the charts for final practice.
After a disappointing qualifying effort later Friday evening, Buescher was scheduled to roll off the grid for the Kroger 250 in the 20th position. When the green flag flew Saturday afternoon for the Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway, Buescher stuck to his race strategy of staying patient and taking positions when they were available. On lap 25, Buescher radioed to his Rheem crew that he was lacking forward bite and was a little free in the center of the corner. On lap 60, while running in the 14th position, Buescher got the opportunity to bring his Rheem Silverado down to the attention of the crew for adjustments. Michael Shelton, Buescher's crew chief, called for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment on the No. 31. After a quick pit stop by the crew, Buescher exited in the 11th spot. Continuing his hunt for the leaders, Buescher worked his way up to the seventh running position by lap 86 and radioed to the crew, "I'm just riding around, saving what we have for later in the race; I think we have a pretty good truck and might have something for the leaders."
On lap 103 Buescher cracked the top five, a position where he stayed much of race. With different pit stop strategies up and down pit road, the No. 31 Rheem team decided to make their final stop on lap 144. Still fighting a slightly free race truck, Shelton called for four tires, fuel and reversed some of the changes from the previous pit stop. Buescher restarted the race back in the 12th spot.
After just logging laps to get to the latter half of the race, Buescher still continued his march back up to the top five. On the second-to-final restart of the race, Buescher got caught up on the outside line and slipped back to the 10th running position. During the final yellow flag period of the race, Buescher radioed to the crew that the truck was just too tight and was looking to see if they could pit to make adjustments. With only a few laps remaining, Buescher stayed on the track and continued to battle for a 14th-place finish at the short track.
"Coming into today we had our work cut out for us but I knew we had a great truck during practice so we just needed to stay patient throughout the day," said Turner Scott Motorsports driver James Buescher. "We were able to spend much of the day inside the top five, and I thought we really had a truck that could contend for the win. Unfortunately the last set of tires didn't take well to our setup. Overall, I felt the whole Rheem team had a great day; I'm looking forward to getting on to Rockingham where I know we can contend for the win."