Reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chris Buescher will move up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for 2016 with Front Row Motorsports in the #34 Ford. Buescher locked up the 2015 XFINITY title with Roush Fenway Racing in last month at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Buescher, who drove the #34 Chevrolet for Front Row Motorsports in six races in 2015, after David Ragan moved to Joe Gibbs Racing to sub for an injured Kyle Busch and then for Brian Vickers at the now defunct Michael Waltrip Racing, averaged a finish of 26.7, with a personal best of 20th in his Sprint Cup debut at Auto Club Speedway.
Roush-Fenway Racing announced full support for the team including pit, equipment and engineering support to Front Row Motorsports as part of the deal.
“We are thrilled to announce this alliance,” Roush Fenway President Steve Newmark said in a press statement. “Not only will it foster increased communication within the Ford camp, it will allow our newest champion Chris Buescher to continue to hone his skills with substantial seat time behind the wheel in the Sprint Cup Series in top-grade equipment.”
“We look forward to working more closely with Front Row on many levels and we believe it is a relationship that will be mutually beneficial for both parties,” Newmark added.
Buescher won two races, and scored 11 top-fives and 20 top-10s in 2015 prior to winning the XFINITY Series championship. He made his series debut in 2011 and was the ARCA Racing Series champion in 2012.
“It is a new team,” Buescher told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “It is a smaller team but it is a team that is still building. It’s just like anybody that has come into this sport, I don’t think you have ever seen somebody come in, especially in the last 10-20 years and just been dominate off the truck. It’s going to be a building process, along with myself going over to Front Row and driving, we are going to have the alliance between Roush and them as well. … I think it’s a way to build it up.”
Scott Graves will be Buescher’s crew chief in the #34 Ford, keeping the XFINITY Series winning driver and crew chief pair together. Graves was the crew chief for RFR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. when he moved up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in 2013.
“We’ve grown a lot and accomplished a lot as an organization in our six years of full-time Sprint Cup racing, and I’m proud of our progress,” said Bob Jenkins, owner of Front Row Motorsports. “We’re ready for the next step, and this partnership with Roush Fenway Racing is going to take us there. Chris Buescher is a champion, and he’s a driver that we’ve worked with already and have great respect for, so he’s the perfect guy to bring into our line-up.”
Front Row Motorsports’ have not announced plans beyond Buescher and the #34. In 2015 the team fielded three entries with several drivers in the #34 along with the full-time drivers of David Gilliland in the #38 and Cole Whitt in the #35. The release indicates the FRM may only field two entries in 2016.