COLE CUSTER – 2018 Kentucky NXS Race Report

July 14th, 2018

Cole Custer Finishes Fifth at Kentucky

Haas Automation Driver Leads 14 Laps in Alsco 300

Date:                 July 13, 2018
Event:               Alsco 300 (Round 17 of 33)
Series:               NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location:          Kentucky Speedway in Sparta (1.5-mile oval)
Format:             200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/110 laps)
Start/Finish:      1st/5th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Point Standing: 3rd with 605 points, three out of first

Race Winner:    Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: John Hunter Nemechek of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):

  • Custer started from the pole and finished second, earning nine bonus points.
  • Led the first 14 laps before being passed by the 2009 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion and 92-time race winner, Kyle Busch.
  • Shortly after being passed, Custer radioed to crew chief Jeff Meendering that his No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang was getting tight.
  • At the end of the stage, Custer pitted for four tires and fuel, with a slight tire pressure adjustment.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):

  • Custer started third and finished third, earning eight bonus points.
  • Ty Majeski overtook Custer on pit road, but Custer earned the spot back on the restart, passing Majeski off turn two of the 1.5-mile oval.
  • Custer radioed on lap 63 that his Haas Automation Ford was getting tight again.
  • John Hunter Nemechek made the pass for second on lap 72, dropping Custer to third place.
  • At the end of the stage, Custer pitted for four tires and fuel, with another tire pressure adjustment and a right-rear wedge adjustment.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 91-200):

  • Custer started second, finished fifth.
  • Dueled for the lead with Busch at the beginning of stage before settling into second place on the ensuing lap.
  • Stayed out during back-to-back caution periods from laps 101-103 and laps 105-108. Remained in second place for both restarts.
  • Custer said he was loose at the onset of lap-109 restart. Dropped to fourth behind Busch, Christopher Bell and Daniel Hemric.
  • When the caution flag waved again on lap 133, Custer was in fifth-place, having lost fourth to John Hunter Nemechek.
  • “Terrible at the start of the run and loose on entry, especially,” said Custer during this caution period.
  • Custer took advantage of the caution and pitted on lap 134 for four tires and fuel with a left-rear wedge adjustment.
  • Two more cautions for eight laps slowed the final 52 laps, but Custer stayed out each time to hold onto his track position.
  • During the final, lap-167 restart, Custer was shuffled from fourth to sixth, but he rallied back to reclaim fifth from Ryan Reed.
  • In the final three laps, Custer waged a spirited battle against Justin Allgaier for fourth, with the duo running side-by-side on the penultimate lap before Allgaier was finally able pull ahead.

Notes:              

  • Custer’s pole was the fourth in the NASCAR Xfinity Series for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste.
  • The fifth-place finish was Custer’s seventh top-five of the season and his second at Kentucky.
  • Custer totaled 17 bonus points in the Alsco 300 at Kentucky.
  • Custer was the highest finishing Ford driver.
  • There were seven caution periods totaling 32 laps.
  • Eighteen of the 40 drivers in the Alsco 300 finished on the lead lap.
  • Bell won the Alsco 300 to score his third career Xfinity Series victory, his second of the season and first at Kentucky. His margin of victory over second-place Hemric was .848 of a second. 

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste:       

“It was tough. We had a lot of cautions there and we weren’t very good firing off, so that kind of hurt us. I’m happy that we got our Haas Automation Mustang a lot better throughout the weekend, but we just need to figure out how to get it a little bit better so we can compete for a win. We’re really fast at the end of a run, but we can’t compete at the start of a run, so we’ll go back and figure it out.”