Chris Buescher makes NASCAR's Chase in his rookie season

Chris Buescher makes NASCAR's Chase in his rookie season

The Chase Chris Buescher

For the first time ever, Front Row Motorsports is in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Chris Buescher will be driving the #34 Love's Ford Fusion this weekend at Chicagoland to open stock car racing's playoffs.

"This is a big day for our team, and I'm incredibly proud of everybody who worked so hard to get us here," team owner Bob Jenkins said. "Everybody at FRM, Roush Fenway Racing, Roush Yates and Ford worked together toward this one goal and it's so gratifying to see all that work pay off and see our No. 34 car competing for the championship."

That's right: NASCAR rookie Chris Buescher is competing for the NASCAR championship. How exciting is that?

Here's how NASCAR's playoffs work: 16 drivers make the playoffs. This year, the contenders are Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Martin Truex Jr., Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Chris Buescher, Chase Elliott, Austin Dillon and Jamie McMurray.

A driver either makes it into the playoff field by virtue of cumulative points or by winning a race during the season and finishing with just enough points. In this case, Buescher won the season's second of two races at Pocono and finished in the Top 30 for points.

All 16 drivers are guaranteed a spot in the playoffs for at least three races, at which time the Top 12 among them will advance to the next round. In addition to Sunday's race at Chicagoland Speedway, Buescher's other playoff races will be at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and Dover International Speedway.

Buescher said it's a special thing to be part of the Chase.

"It's pretty special. Everything worked out the way we needed to pull this night off the way we needed to," he said.

Buescher starts the playoffs ranked No. 13 and, as a Chase competitor, can finish the season no lower than 16th. That guarantees Buescher the highest-ever points finish for a Front Row Motorsports driver in the team's history.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 starts at 2:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN. Qualifying will happen on Friday night at 6:45 ET.

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