COLE CUSTER – 2020 BRISTOL RACE REPORT

Event: Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Round 29 of 36)

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile, concrete oval)

Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)

Start/Finish: 12th/23rd (Running, completed 497 of 500 laps)

Point Standing: 13th with 2,067 points, 28 points below top-12 cutoff

Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):             

● Cole Custer started 12th and finished 24th.

● At the lap-30 competition caution, Custer pitted from 14th for adjustments to help with his tight-handling Mustang.

● The HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 Mustang jumped from 15th to 11th on the restart.

● The handling issues returned and dropped Custer to 24th by lap 90.  

● During the stage break Custer pitted for more adjustments.   

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

● Custer started 23rd and finished 21st.

● The stage opened up with a long green-flag run that saw Custer fall a lap down to the leaders on lap 218.

● Custer took the wave-around on lap 232 to get back on the lead lap.

● Custer finished 21st in a sprint to end the stage and visited pit road twice during the break. 

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 251-500):

● Custer started 23rd, finished 23rd.

● Just after the restart, Custer received significant nose damage to the No. 41 Ford Mustang.

● The stage remained under green until lap 407 and Custer pitted multiple times for damage repair to his Mustang’s nose and regular pit service. He restarted 23rd, three laps down.

● With 30 laps to go in the event the Ford driver was 24th, and with 10 laps to go he was 23rd.

● Custer ultimately finished 23rd and missed advancing to the next round of playoffs by 28 points.

 

Notes:

● Custer’s 23rd-place result bettered his previous best finish at Bristol – 35th, earned in his first NASCAR Cup Series start at the track in May.

● Custer has six starts at Bristol in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. He scored two top-fives and four top-10s.

● Kevin Harvick’s victory in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race marked the 88th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 65th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory, its 10th of the season and its third at Bristol.

● SHR scored its first Bristol win in August 2016 with Harvick. The team’s second win came in August 2018 with former driver Kurt Busch.

● This was SHR’s 29th NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when former driver Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.

● Harvick has now won 23 NASCAR Cup Series races with Ford, which makes him one of only 13 drivers to win 20 or more races with the manufacturer. He is currently tied with Rusty Wallace, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano for 10th all time.

● This was Ford’s series-leading 17th NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and its 703rd all-time Cup Series victory.

● This was Ford’s 39th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Bristol and its second straight. Ford’s previous win at the track came with Brad Keselowski in the series’ last race at the track in May. Its first Bristol win came on March 31, 1963 with NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts.

● Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was .310 of a second.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 50 laps.

● Only six of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

● Harvick remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 19-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

 

Playoff Standings to Begin Round of 12:

1.      Kevin Harvick (3,067 points)

2.      Denny Hamlin (3,048 points) -19

3.      Brad Keselowski (3,035 points) -32

4.      Joey Logano (3,022 points) -45

5.      Chase Elliott (3,021 points) -46

6.      Martin Truex Jr. (3,016 points) -51

7.      Alex Bowman (3,009 points) -58

8.      Austin Dillon (3,005 points) -62

9.      Aric Almirola (3,005 points) -62

10.    Kyle Busch (3,004 points) -63

11.    Clint Bowyer (3,004 points) -63

12.    Kurt Busch (3,001 points) -66

Failed to Advance to Round of 12:

13.    Cole Custer (2,067 points) 

14.    William Byron (2,062 points)

15.    Ryan Blaney (2,058 points)

16.    Matt DiBenedetto (2,054 points)

 

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We’ve just struggled here at Bristol. I think we can hold our heads high on what we’ve done this year. From where we started this year and where I was at, we’ve come a long way and these guys have really helped me grow. It’s about the people at SHR and sponsor support from HaasTooling.com and Autodesk, I can’t thank them enough.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the South Point 400 on Sunday, Sept. 27 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is the fourth race of the 10-race playoffs and the first race in the Round of 12. It starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

CLINT BOWYER – 2020 Bristol Race Report

Event: Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Round 29 of 36)

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile, concrete oval)

Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)

Start/Finish: 11th/6th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)

Point Standing: 11th with 3,004 points (Advances to the Round of 12)

 

Race Winner:    Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner:  Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

 Clint Bowyer started 11th and finished 19th.

● The No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Mustang raced in 10th at the lap-30 competition caution.

● Bowyer continued battling a loose car and fell to 21st by lap 90. However, he posted quick lap times on the long run.

● During the stage break the No. 14 crew made more handling adjustments to improve the car’s short run performance.  

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

 Bowyer started 16th and finished eighth to earn three bonus points.

● The No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Mustang held its position for the first half of the stage.

● Bowyer began working his way through the field climbing to 10th when William Byron’s crash brought out the caution with less than 10 laps remaining in the stage.

● Byron was holding the 12th and final transfer position in the playoffs at the time of the accident.

● Bowyer restarted seventh when the race returned to green with nine laps remaining in the stage.

● Since he pitted late in the stage, Bowyer stayed on the track during the stage break.  

.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 251-500):

 Bowyer started eighth and finished sixth.

● The No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Mustang ran well early climbing to fourth with 173 laps remaining.

● Bowyer pitted under caution from third for routine service with 88 laps remaining.  

● Bowyer was one of six cars on the lead lap when the race restarted with 82 laps remaining. 

● Bowyer moved to second place at the choose cone before the restart.

● Bowyer fell to sixth with 50 laps to go as he raced cautiously safeguarding his point’s position in the playoffs.

● The remainder of the race ran without caution.

 

Notes:

 ● Bowyer finished 28 points ahead of the top-12 cutoff in the Round of 16 and advanced to the Round of 12 for the third consecutive year.

● Bowyer finished in the top-10 in each of the three Round of 16 races. He finished 10th Sept. 6 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and 10th in the series’ prior race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

● Bowyer earned his 10th top-10 of the season and his 17th top-10 in 30 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol.

● Since joining SHR in 2017, Bowyer has only one finish outside the top-10 at Bristol.

● This was Bowyer’s sixth straight top-10 at Bristol. He finished second in the series’ previous race at Bristol in May.

● Kevin Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was .310 of a second.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 50 laps.

● Only six of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

● Harvick remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 19-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

 

Playoff Standings to Begin Round of 12: 

1.       Kevin Harvick (3,067 points)

2.       Denny Hamlin (3,048 points) -19

3.       Brad Keselowski (3,035 points) -32

4.       Joey Logano (3,022 points) -45

5.       Chase Elliott (3,021 points) -46

6.       Martin Truex Jr. (3,016 points) -51

7.       Alex Bowman (3,009 points) -58

8.       Austin Dillon (3,005 points) -62

9.       Aric Almirola (3,005 points) -62

10.     Kyle Busch (3,004 points) -63

11.     Clint Bowyer (3,004 points) -63

12.     Kurt Busch (3,001 points) -66

 

Failed to Advance to Round of 12:

13.    Cole Custer (2,067 points)

14.    William Byron (2,062 points)

15.    Ryan Blaney (2,058 points)

16.    Matt DiBenedetto (2,054 points)

 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Rush Truck Centers/Cummins Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“Obviously, you want to win the race, but we did what we had to do tonight and that’s advance in the playoffs. I hated to give up those positions at the end, but as loose as I was, you had to use your head and make sure you made it to the next round. Looking forward to getting out to Las Vegas. I’m ready. Hopefully we can continue to march forward. We have to get out there and swing for the fence.”

 

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the South Point 400 on Sunday, Sept. 27 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is the fourth race of the 10-race playoffs and the first race in the Round of 12. It starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2020 Bristol Race Report

Event: Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Round 29 of 36)

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile, concrete oval) 

Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps) 

Start/Finish: 10th/5th (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)

Point Standing: 9th with 3,005 points (Advances to Round of 12)

 

Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

● Aric Almirola started 10th and finished 18th.  

● The No. 10 Smithfield Ford driver pitted on lap 35 for four tires, fuel and adjustments to correct loose-handling conditions. 

● He came off pit road in 10th and drove to sixth on the restart. 

● Halfway through the stage, Almirola radioed that he was losing turn in the middle of the corners, ultimately causing him to drop outside of the top-15 before the stage ended.

● At the conclusion of the stage, Almirola pitted for four tires, fuel and air pressure and chassis adjustments to help him turn better. 

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

● Almirola started 17th and finished seventh and earned four bonus points.

● The No. 10 Ford driver raced his way back to ninth before the caution was thrown on lap 236. 

● Almirola pitted under caution for four tires and fuel. He came off pit road eighth. 

● Another caution was called on lap 250, ultimately ending the stage. 

● He opted not to pit at the end of the stage.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 251-500):

● Almirola started seventh and finished fifth. 

● Almirola advanced to the top-five by lap 407.  

● He pitted for four tires, fuel, and air pressure and chassis adjustments after a lap-408 caution. He restarted sixth.

● Almirola re-entered the top-five on lap 450 and said his balance was improving.

● He held his position to earn his sixth top-five of the season.

 

Notes:

● Almirola earned his sixth top-five and 17th top-10 of the season, and his second top-five and fourth top-10 in 23 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol.

● Almirola tied his career-high for top-10s in a single season. He scored 17 top-10s in 2018. His six top-fives this year are also the most he has had in a single season. His previous top-five high was four, also in 2018.

● This was Almirola’s third straight top-10. He finished ninth Sept. 6 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and eighth in the series’ prior race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

● Almirola led one lap to increase his laps-led total at Bristol to three.

● Kevin Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Kyle Busch was .310 of a second.

● There were five caution periods for a total of 50 laps.

● Only six of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

● Harvick remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 19-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

 

Playoff Standings to Begin Round of 12:

1.     Kevin Harvick (3,067 points) 

2.     Denny Hamlin (3,048 points) -19

3.     Brad Keselowski (3,035 points) -32

4.     Joey Logano (3,022 points) -45

5.     Chase Elliott (3,021 points) -46

6.     Martin Truex Jr. (3,016 points) -51

7.     Alex Bowman (3,009 points) -58

8.     Austin Dillon (3,005 points) -62

9.     Aric Almirola (3,005 points) -62 

10.   Kyle Busch (3,004 points) -63

11.   Clint Bowyer (3,004 points) -63

12.   Kurt Busch (3,001 points) -66

 

Failed to Advance to Round of 12:

13.   Cole Custer (2,067 points) 

14.   William Byron (2,062 points) 

15.   Ryan Blaney (2,058 points) 

16.   Matt DiBenedetto (2,054 points) 

 

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We had a solid top-five tonight at Bristol and we’re moving on to the round of 12 again. It was a great run. We missed it a bit to start. This Smithfield Ford team worked so hard to make the right adjustments all night. I was scrapping in the car to get everything I could get. Really proud of everybody on the race team. Ready to see if we can’t make it happen again in this next round.”

 

Next Up: 

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the South Point 400 on Sunday, Sept. 27 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is the fourth race of the 10-race playoffs and the first race in the Round of 12. It starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2020 Bristol Race Report

Event: Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Round 29 of 36)

Series: NASCAR Cup Series

Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (.533-mile, concrete oval)

Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (125 laps/125 laps/250 laps)

Start/Finish: 4th/1st (Running, completed 500 of 500 laps)

Point Standing: (1st with 3,067 points, advances to Round of 12 by virtue of win)

 

Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-125):

●  Kevin Harvick started fourth and finished third, earning eight bonus points.

●  The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang took the lead on lap 18, when Harvick got by Brad Keselowski.

●  On lap 35, Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel. He was leading and said his car was turning very well, but needs more rear grip.

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 126-250):

●  Kevin Harvick started third and finished second, earning nine bonus points.  

●  The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang pitted on lap 139 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Said car was a bit tight.

●   On lap 217, Harvick got by Chase Elliott and took over second place.

●   Harvick pitted on lap 237 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Said car was still a little too tight.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 251-500):

●  Kevin Harvick started fourth and finished first.

●  The No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang got by the No. 18 car driven by Kyle Busch on lap 282 to take the lead.

●   Harvick was headed to pit road on lap 408 when James Davison got into the SAFER Barrier on the outside retaining wall. Spotter Tim Fedewa called for Harvick to stay out. He pitted on lap 412 for four tires, fuel and some tape on the grill.

●   On lap 459, Kyle Busch took the lead from Harvick, but the No. 4 car got the lead back 10 laps later.

●   Harvick suffered some front end damage from the No. 51 car of Joey Gase, which was slowing him down with less than 20 laps to go, but he was able to hold off Busch by .31 of second.  

 

Notes:

●  There were five caution periods for a total of 50 laps.

●  Only six of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.

●  Harvick remains the championship leader after Bristol with a 19-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

●  Harvick earned his series-leading ninth victory of the season and his third victory in 40 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Bristol.

●  Harvick’s nine wins surpassed his own mark for the most victories in a single season. He won eight races in 2018.

●  This was Harvick’s third straight top-10. He won Sept. 6 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and finished seventh in the series’ prior race at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.

●  Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has only three finishes outside the top-15 at Bristol.

●  Harvick has finished among the top-10 in 24 of the 29 races held this year. He has only three finishes outside the top-15.

●  Harvick finished third in Stage 1 to earn eight bonus points and second in Stage 2 to earn nine more bonus points.

●  Harvick led four times for a race-high 226 laps to increase his laps-led total at Bristol to 1,138.

●  Harvick has now led 11,024 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 15,450 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career.

●  Harvick has led 1,416 laps in the 29 races held this season. He is the only driver to hit the 1,000 laps led mark this season. Next best is Brad Keselowski with 912 laps led.

●  Harvick’s victory in the Bass Pro Shops Night Race marked the 88th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 65th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory, its 10th of the season and its third at Bristol.

●  SHR scored its first Bristol win in August 2016 with Harvick. The team’s second win came in August 2018 with former driver Kurt Busch.

●  This was SHR’s 29th NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when former driver Kurt Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.

●  Harvick has now won 23 NASCAR Cup Series races with Ford, which makes him one of only 13 drivers to win 20 or more races with the manufacturer. He is currently tied with Rusty Wallace, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano for 10th all time.

●  This was Ford’s series-leading 17th NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and its 703rd all-time Cup Series victory.

●  This was Ford’s 39th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Bristol and its second straight. Ford’s previous win at the track came with Brad Keselowski in the series’ last race at the track in May. Its first Bristol win came on March 31, 1963 with NASCAR Hall of Famer Fireball Roberts.

●  This was Harvick’s 58th career NASCAR Cup Series win. He is alone at ninth on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list. Next on the all-time win list is NASCAR Hall of Famer and seven-time series champion Dale Earnhardt with 76 victories.

●  This was Harvick’s 35th NASCAR Cup Series victory since joining SHR in 2014.

 

Playoff Standings: 

1.      Kevin Harvick (3,067 points) 

2.      Denny Hamlin (3,048 points) -19

3.      Brad Keselowski (3,035 points) -32

4.      Joey Logano (3,022 points) -45

5.      Chase Elliott (3,021 points) -46

6.      Martin Truex Jr. (3,016 points) -51

7.      Alex Bowman (3,009 points) -58

8.      Austin Dillon (3,005 points) -62

9.      Aric Almirola (3,005 points) -62 

10.    Kyle Busch (3,004 points) -63

11.    Clint Bowyer (3,004 points) -63

12.    Kurt Busch (3,001 points) -66

 

Failed to Advance to Round of 12:

13.   Cole Custer (2,067 points) 

14.   William Byron (2,062 points)

15.   Ryan Blaney (2,058 points)

16.   Matt DiBenedetto (2,054 points)

 

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Light Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“Man, I just want to say thank you to all the fans. I was so jacked up when we started this race because of you guys and Bristol Motor Speedway. I’m just really really proud of everybody on our Busch Light Ford. Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers Pizza, everybody from Jimmy John’s, Fields.  We’ll bring the sword to the go-kart tent tomorrow, so you boys better be ready to take a picture.”

 

What about the battle with Kyle Busch?

“To beat Kyle Busch at Bristol, I kind of got myself in a little bit of a ringer there. I hit a lapped car and got a hole in the right-front nose, but just kept fighting. We don’t have anything else to lose. We were here to try to win a race. I know how much Rodney (Childers, crew chief) really enjoys coming here and, hell, how can you not enjoy coming here with all this enthusiasm. Everybody is tired of being at home.”

 

Is there any way to say how good this season has been?

“There is not.  It’s just been a weird a year, but it’s been an unbelievable year on the racetrack.  I can’t thank everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing enough.”

 

Those last 60 laps you navigated through lap traffic pretty well.  What can you say about the job your spotter Tim (Fedewa) did tonight and the job he did guiding you through that lap traffic?  How great was that to have on your side?

“Well, I think the best — Timmy was on it tonight. He was one step ahead of me, and that really helps because you can’t really see all the way out of the corner when you’re entering the corner and headed to the center of the corner, you can’t really tell. Him being one step ahead of me so I know what to do when I get to the next corner as far as low or high line definitely puts us in a great spot. He definitely did a great job. The biggest turning point of the night was when we were coming to pit road, cars beside me spun out and we stayed on the racetrack and without clipping the box or anything and put a bunch of them a lap down, so that was definitely a big moment.”

 

Next Up: 

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the South Point 400 on Sunday, Sept. 27 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. It is the fourth race of the 10-race playoffs and the first race in the Round of 12. It starts at 7 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2020 Richmond Race Report

Event: Federated Auto Parts 400 (Round 28 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway (0.75-mile oval)
Format: 400 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/155 laps/165 laps)
Start/Finish: 1st/7th (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: (1st with 2,143 points, advances to Round of 12 by virtue of win)

Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Harvick started first and finished fifth and earned six bonus points.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza / FIELDS Ford Mustang led the first 20 laps before getting passed by Austin Dillion.
● On lap 32, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis and tire pressure adjustment.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-235):

Harvick started second and finished 10th and earned one bonus point.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Hunt Brothers Pizza / FIELDS Ford Mustang, pitted on lap 85 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Said car was still too tight.
● On lap 141, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
● Harvick pitted from second-place on lap 185 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Unfortunately, he had a commitment line violation on entry and had to serve a drive through penalty. He was 27th and one lap down on lap 195.
● On lap 227, Harvick got his lap back and was in 16th place.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 236-400):

Harvick started eighth and finished seventh.
● On lap 240, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
● Harvick pitted on lap 294 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Was fifth, but said car was too tight and lacked rear grip.
● On lap 348, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.

Notes:

●  Brad Keselowski won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 34th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr., was 1.568 seconds.
●  There were three caution periods for a total of 21 laps.
●  Only 11 of the 38 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
●  Harvick remains the championship leader after Richmond with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.
●  Harvick earned his series-leading 23rd top-10 of the season and his 26th top-10 in 39 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
●  This was Harvick’s fifth straight top-10 at Richmond. He finished seventh in the series’ previous visit to the track last September.
●  Harvick’s 26 top-10s at Richmond are the most among active drivers. Next best is Kyle Busch with 23 top-10s.
●  Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has not finished outside the top-15 at Richmond.
●  This was Harvick’s second straight top-10. He won in the series’ previous race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
●  Harvick has finished among the top-10 in 23 of the 28 races held this year. He has only three finishes outside the top-15.
●  Harvick finished fifth in Stage 1 to earn six bonus points and 10th in Stage 2 to earn one additional bonus point.
●  Harvick led three times for 41 laps to increase his laps-led total at Richmond to 1,180.
●  Harvick has now led 10,798 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 15,224 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career.
●  Harvick has led 1,190 laps in the 28 races held this season. He is the only driver to hit the 1,000 laps led mark this season. Next best is Hamlin with 835 laps led.

Playoff Standings:

1.      Kevin Harvick (2,143 points) 1 win
2.      Brad Keselowski (2,112 points) 1 win
3.      Denny Hamlin (2,122 points) +64 points
4.      Joey Logano (2,109 points) +51 points
5.      Martin Truex Jr. (2,096 points) +38 points
6.      Austin Dillon (2,094 points) +36 points
7.      Chase Elliott (2,086 points) +28 points
8.      Alex Bowman (2,085 points) +27 points
9.      Kyle Busch (2,076 points) +18 points
10.    Aric Almirola (2,065 points) +7 points
11.    Kurt Busch (2,065 points) +7 points
12.    Clint Bowyer (2,061 points) +3 points
13.    William Byron (2,058 points) -3 points
14.    Cole Custer (2,053 points) -8 points
15.    Matt DiBenedetto (2,036 points) -25 points
16.    Ryan Blaney (2,034 points) -27 points

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the last race in the Round of 16. It starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

CLINT BOWYER – 2020 Richmond Race Report

Event: Federated Auto Parts 400 (Round 28 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format: 400 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/155 laps/165 laps)
Start/Finish: 11th/10th (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 12th with 2,061 points (3 points ahead of top-12 cutoff)

Race Winner:      Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:  Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Clint Bowyer started 11th and finished 10th earning one bonus point.
● The No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School Mustang moved to eighth before the lap-30 competition caution.
● Bowyer drove by William Byron for seventh on lap 62, but fell back to 10th on the final laps of the stage.
● Bowyer told the crew he was “dead in the water” on the final laps of the stage.
● During the stage break, Bowyer pitted for four tires and more handling adjustments.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-235):

Bowyer started ninth and finished 15th.
● Bowyer fell to 11th by the lap-115 mark and 14th by the lap-125 mark still struggling with handling issues.
● The No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School Mustang made a routine green-flag stop on lap 154.
● Bowyer climbed to 11th by the lap-211 mark.
● The No. 14 faded to 15th in the final laps, but fought hard to stay on the lead lap just ahead of the leader.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 236-400):

Bowyer started 15th and finished 10th.
● The No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School Mustang moved to 11th with 125 to go.
● Bowyer told his crew if he could “turn a little better” he would be good.
● Bowyer made routine green-flag stops from 11th with 107 laps remaining and ninth with 55 laps remaining.
● Bowyer drove by Kurt Busch for 10th-place with 27 to go.
● Bowyer turned some of his best laps of the race in the closing stint.

Notes:

● Bowyer earned his ninth top-10 of the season and his 17th top-10 in 29 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
● This was Bowyer’s fifth straight top-10 at Richmond. He finished eighth in the series’ previous race at Richmond last September.
● This was Bowyer’s second straight top-10. He finished 10th in the series’ last race at Darlington.
● Brad Keselowski won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 34th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr., was 1.568 seconds.
● This was Ford’s series-leading 16th NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and its 702nd all-time Cup Series victory.
● This was Ford’s 33rd NASCAR Cup Series victory at Richmond. Ford’s previous win at the track came with Joey Logano in April 2017. Its first Richmond win came on May 5, 1957 with Paul Goldsmith.
● There were three caution periods for a total of 21 laps.
● Only 11 of the 38 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Kevin Harvick remains the championship leader after Richmond with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

Playoff Standings (with one race to go before Round of 12):

1.       Kevin Harvick (2,143 points) 1 win
2.       Brad Keselowski (2,112 points) 1 win
3.       Denny Hamlin (2,122 points) +64 points
4.       Joey Logano (2,109 points) +51 points
5.       Martin Truex Jr. (2,096 points) +38 points
6.       Austin Dillon (2,094 points) +36 points
7.       Chase Elliott (2,086 points) +28 points
8.       Alex Bowman (2,085 points) +27 points
9.       Kyle Busch (2,076 points) +18 points
10.     Aric Almirola (2,065 points) +7 points
11.     Kurt Busch (2,065 points) +7 points
12.     Clint Bowyer (2,061 points) +3 points
13.     William Byron (2,058 points) -3 points
14.     Cole Custer (2,053 points) -8 points
15.     Matt DiBenedetto (2,036 points) -25 points
16.     Ryan Blaney (2,034 points) -27 points

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Ford Performance Racing School Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“Man, I thought we would be a click better than that tonight. It was a battle. We made a lot of changes and kept working on it. We are three points up going to Bristol. We need to go there and perform. We can do it. That’s going to be a heck of a show Saturday night.”

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the last race in the Round of 16. It starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2020 Richmond Race Report

Event:  Federated Auto Parts 400 (Round 28 of 36)
Series:  NASCAR Cup Series
Location:  Richmond (Va.) Raceway (0.75-mile oval)
Format:  400 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/155 laps/165 laps)
Start/Finish:  10th/8th (Running, completed 400 of 400 laps)
Point Standing:  10th with 2,065 points (7 points ahead of top-12 cutoff)

Race Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner:  Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner:  Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):

Aric Almirola started 10th and finished 15th.
● The Smithfield Ford driver pitted on lap 33 under the competition caution for an air pressure adjustment, four tires and fuel. He reported that he was struggling to run in the middle of the turns.
● Almirola lost a few positions on the restart. He was in 17th on lap 60 after noting that the car continued to handle too tight in the middle of the turns.
● As the laps in Stage 1 wound down, Almirola reported that the middle of the turns continued to be a problem.
● He finished Stage 1 in 15th place. The team made air pressure and chassis adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel during the caution.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-235):

Almirola started 11th and finished eighth and earned three bonus points.
● Almirola patiently worked his way back among the top-10 early in Stage 2.
● The balance on the Smithfield Ford continued to be a challenge, but Almirola was able to move through the field. He was in seventh place by lap 140.
● Almirola made a green-flag pit stop on lap 153. The team changed four tires and added fuel.
● Despite persistent handling issues, Almirola maintained a presence in the top-10 throughout Stage 2, finishing eighth.
● At the conclusion of Stage 2 Almirola reported that he really needed the Smithfield Ford to turn better. The team made both chassis and air pressure adjustments, changed four tires and added fuel.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 236-400):

Almirola started seventh and finished eighth.
● After reporting that the balance on the Smithfield Ford was still off, Almirola made a green-flag pit stop on lap 293 for tires, fuel and a series of adjustments.
● The tight-handling condition continued to be a problem. Almirola made what the team hoped to be its last stop of the night on lap 342 under green-flag conditions. The team changed four tires and added fuel.
● Almirola was in eighth place on lap 351 when he reported that the Smithfield Ford’s handling had shifted to the loose side.
● While handling issues plagued the No. 10 team throughout the final stage, Almirola was able to muscle his way to an eighth-place finish.

Notes:

● Almirola earned his 16th top-10 of the season and his sixth top-10 in 17 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
● This was Almirola’s second straight top-10. He finished ninth in the series’ previous race at Darlington.
● Almirola finished eighth in Stage 2 to earn three bonus points.
● Brad Keselowski won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 34th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr., was 1.568 seconds.
● This was Ford’s series-leading 16th NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and its 702nd all-time Cup Series victory.
● This was Ford’s 33rd NASCAR Cup Series victory at Richmond. Ford’s previous win at the track came with Joey Logano in April 2017. Its first Richmond win came on May 5, 1957 with Paul Goldsmith.
● There were three caution periods for a total of 21 laps.
● Only 11 of the 38 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Kevin Harvick remains the championship leader after Richmond with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

Playoff Standings (with one race to go before Round of 12):

1.  Kevin Harvick (2,143 points) 1 win
2.  Brad Keselowski (2,112 points) 1 win
3.  Denny Hamlin (2,122 points) +64 points
4.  Joey Logano (2,109 points) +51 points
5.  Martin Truex Jr. (2,096 points) +38 points
6.  Austin Dillon (2,094 points) +36 points
7.  Chase Elliott (2,086 points) +28 points
8.  Alex Bowman (2,085 points) +27 points
9.  Kyle Busch (2,076 points) +18 points
10.  Aric Almirola (2,065 points) +7 points
11.  Kurt Busch (2,065 points) +7 points
12.  Clint Bowyer (2,061 points) +3 points
13.  William Byron (2,058 points) -3 points
14.  Cole Custer (2,053 points) -8 points
15.  Matt DiBenedetto (2,036 points) -25 points
16.  Ryan Blaney (2,034 points) -27 points

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“The Smithfield Ford was a handful all night. Everyone kept in it and kept working on it. We got a top-10 finish and it was a good point day. That’s the big thing. Now we need to go to Bristol next weekend, run well and get ourselves into the next round.”

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bass Pro Shops Night Race on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the last race in the Round of 16. It starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

COLE CUSTER – 2020 Richmond Race Report

Event: Federated Auto Parts 400 (Round 28 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway (0.75-mile oval)
Format: 400 laps, broken into three stages (80 laps/155 laps/165 laps)
Start/Finish: 13th/14th (Running, completed 399 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 14th with 2,053 points, 8 points below top-12 cutoff

Race Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Brad Keselowski of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-80):             

● Cole Custer started 13th and finished 11th.
● On lap 15 Custer was in the ninth position.
● Custer pitted during the lap-30 competition caution from ninth after reporting his Mustang was tight. He restarted ninth.
● The rookie driver finished the stage in 11th as his car’s handling continued to tighten.
● During the stage break, Custer pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 81-235):

● Custer started ninth and finished 16th.
● Custer jumped to sixth early in the stage with a great restart.
● On lap 112, Custer dropped to eighth after reporting his HaasTooling.com Mustang would not turn.
● The California native made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 153 and cycled to the fourth spot on lap 166.
● Custer ran eighth on lap 191 after reporting he couldn’t roll the center in his Ford Mustang.
● On lap 211 the young driver was 13th.
● Custer slipped back to 16th and fell one lap down just before the conclusion of the stage. He received the free pass and pitted for service during the stage break.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 236-400):

● Custer started 16th, finished 14th.
● Custer remained in 16th when he made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 294 for service and adjustments to help his tight condition.
● The Ford driver was up to 13th on lap 317.
● On lap 342 Custer pitted from 13th while one lap down for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help with his turn.
● Custer slipped back to 15th after his pit stop before working his way up to 14th where he ultimately finished.

Notes:

● Custer earned his 10th top-15 of the season and his first top-15 in two career NASCAR Cup Series start at Richmond.
● In his previous NASCAR Cup Series start at Richmond, Custer started 10th and finished 26th.
● This was Custer’s second straight top-15. He finished 12th in the series’ last race at Darlington.
● Brad Keselowski won the Federated Auto Parts 400 to score his 34th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his second at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr., was 1.568 seconds.
● This was Ford’s series-leading 16th NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and its 702nd all-time Cup Series victory.
● This was Ford’s 33rd NASCAR Cup Series victory at Richmond. Ford’s previous win at the track came with Joey Logano in April 2017. Its first Richmond win came on May 5, 1957 with Paul Goldsmith.
● There were three caution periods for a total of 21 laps.
● Only 11 of the 38 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Kevin Harvick remains the championship leader after Richmond with a 21-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.

Playoff Standings (with one race to go before Round of 12):

1.      Kevin Harvick (2,143 points) 1 win
2.      Brad Keselowski (2,112 points) 1 win
3.      Denny Hamlin (2,122 points) +64 points
4.       Joey Logano (2,109 points) +51 points
5.      Martin Truex Jr. (2,096 points) +38 points
6.      Austin Dillon (2,094 points) +36 points
7.      Chase Elliott (2,086 points) +28 points
8.      Alex Bowman (2,085 points) +27 points
9.      Kyle Busch (2,076 points) +18 points
10.    Aric Almirola (2,065 points) +7 points
11.    Kurt Busch (2,065 points) +7 points
12.    Clint Bowyer (2,061 points) +3 points
13.    William Byron (2,058 points) -3 points
14.    Cole Custer (2,053 points) -8 points
15.    Matt DiBenedetto (2,036 points) -25 points
16.    Ryan Blaney (2,034 points) -27 points

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“Classic Richmond I guess, but we fought all night trying to find the perfect balance and it’s just really hard to find at Richmond. This track is like you’re racing on ice. We had times when we were pretty good in our HaasTooling.com Mustang and there were times when we were a little off, and it led to an okay day. I think we’re only eight points out so that’s not too bad. We can go to Bristol and lock ourselves in but it’s going to be a fight until the end.”

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race on Saturday, Sept. 19 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. It is the third race of the 10-race playoffs and the last race in the Round of 16. It starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2020 Darlington Throwback Race Report

Event: Cook Out Southern 500 (Round 27 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.366-mile oval)
Format: 367 laps, broken into three stages (115 laps/115 laps/137 laps)
Start/Finish: 8th/1st (Running, completed 367 of 367 laps)
Point Standing: (1st with 2,106 points, advances to Round of 12 by virtue of win)

Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr. of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-115):

Harvick started eighth and finished 10th and earned one bonus point.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford Mustang, said his car was loose and pitted on lap 27 for four tires, fuel and a track bar adjustment. Was in sixth-place and exited pit lane in fifth.
● On lap 73, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment to tighten the car up as it was very loose.
● Harvick pitted on lap 84 for four tires, fuel and a chassis and tire pressure adjustment. Said car was still too loose.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 116-230):

Harvick started eighth and finished third and earned eight bonus points.
● Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford Mustang pitted on lap 118 for four tires, fuel and a major chassis adjustment. Said car was still too loose.
● On lap 157, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The crew made an adjustment to the left front as Harvick said the car was still too loose. Was in ninth-place.
● Harvick pitted on lap 183 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. He was leading, but said the car was better, but still too loose.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 231-367):

Harvick started third and finished first.
● On lap 232, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. The handling was improving.
● Harvick pitted on lap 247 for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment. Said cars handling was improving even more.
● On lap 287, Harvick pitted for four tires, fuel and a tire and chassis adjustment. He was fourth and said the car was still a tick loose.
● Harvick was in second place when he pitted on lap 232 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment. Came in second and left in second.
● He was in third place with 15 laps to go when Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr., were battling for the lead and both cars got into the outside SAFER Barrier in turn one. Both cars were damaged and Harvick was able to pass each driver and win his second Southern 500.

Notes:

●  Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Austin Dillon was .343 of a second.
●  There were seven caution periods for a total of 34 laps.
●  Twenty of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
●  Harvick earned his series-leading eighth victory of the season and his third victory in 26 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington.
●  Harvick’s eight wins ties his own mark for the most victories in a single season. He won eight races in 2018.
●  This was Harvick’s third straight top-three at Darlington. He has not finished outside the top-10 at Darlington since a 16th-place drive in May 2012.
●  Harvick has nine top-fives in the last 10 races at Darlington.
●  Since joining SHR in 2014, Harvick has only one finish outside the top-five at Darlington – ninth in the 2017 Southern 500.
●  Harvick’s 11 top-fives and 15 top-10s at Darlington are the most among active drivers.
●  Harvick led three times for 32 laps to increase his laps-led total at Darlington to 782, the most among active drivers.
●  Harvick has now led 10,757 laps since joining SHR in 2014. He has led 15,183 laps in his entire NASCAR Cup Series career.
●  Harvick has led 1,149 laps in the 27 races held this season. He is the only driver to hit the 1,000 laps led mark this year. Next best is Denny Hamlin with 790 laps led.
●  Harvick’s victory in the Cook Out Southern 500 marked the 86th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 64th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory, its ninth of the season and its third at Darlington.
●  SHR scored both of its previous Darlington wins with Harvick. He won the 2014 Southern 500 in his first season with SHR and earned a second win at the “Track Too Tough To Tame” on May 17 when NASCAR returned to racing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
●  This was SHR’s 28th NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when former driver Kurt Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.
●  Harvick has now won 22 NASCAR Cup Series races with Ford, which makes him one of only 13 drivers to win 20 or more races with the manufacturer. He is just one win away from tying Rusty Wallace, Carl Edwards and Joey Logano for 10th all time.
●  This was Ford’s series-leading 15th NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and its 701st all-time Cup Series victory.
●  This was Harvick’s 57th career NASCAR Cup Series win. He is now ninth on the all-time NASCAR Cup Series win list after passing Kyle Busch, who has 56 wins. Next on the all-time win list is NASCAR Hall of Famer Dale Earnhardt with 76 victories.
●  This was Harvick’s 34th NASCAR Cup Series victory since joining SHR in 2014.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Busch Beer Throwback Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Was this one of those nights you didn’t have the best car and showed what this team is made of?

“First thing I want to say is welcome back, fans. This interview is a hell of a lot more fun with you guys up there. I just want to say thank you to everybody from NASCAR, all of you fans here in South Carolina. I’ve got to thank Busch Beer, Mobil 1, Hunt Brothers Pizza, Jimmy John’s, Ford Mustang, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. We just wound up fighting all night long. This Busch Beer Ford Mustang wasn’t where we wanted it to be, but the leaders got tangled up there and the next thing you know we were racing for the win.”

How big is this win for the 4 team?

“Anytime you can win the Southern 500 is a good day. This is one of the most prestigious races in our sport and this is one the most prestigious racetracks in our sport, so anytime you can win at Darlington it’s a big deal, but, man, Southern 500!”

What did you see with Truex and Elliott?

“Obviously, those guys had trouble. I didn’t see what happened. I just heard my spotter tell me that something had happened. I’ve just got to thank everybody on our Busch Beer Ford Mustang. They did a heck of a job tonight just keeping us in the game. Our car wasn’t very good, but we just kept fighting and kept ourselves up in the front with some great pit strategy and were able to stay up there and fight and wound up in the right spot.”

You short pitted several times. Was that what you had to do?

“We kept having a lot of trouble with the right-rear tire cording.  The car was really loose all night long for whatever reason and would cord the right-rear tire, so I think that was probably about as far as they felt like we were comfortable of going and wound up being the right strategy in the end.”

Playoff Standings:

1.      Kevin Harvick (2,106 points) 1 win
2.      Denny Hamlin (2,087 points) +54 points
3.      Joey Logano (2,060 points) +27 points
4.      Brad Keselowski (2,055 points) +22 points
5.      Alex Bowman (2,052 points) +19 points
6.      Martin Truex Jr. (2,049 points) +16 points
7.      Chase Elliott (2,045 points) +12 points
8.      Austin Dillon (2,043 points) +10 points
9.      William Byron (2,042 points) +9 points
10.    Kyle Busch (2,040 points) +7 points
11.    Kurt Busch (2,037 points) +4 points
12.    Aric Almirola (2,033 points) +0 points
13.    Clint Bowyer (2,033 points) -0 points
14.    Cole Custer (2,030 points) -3 points
15.    Matt DiBenedetto (2,016 points) -17 points
16.    Ryan Blaney (2,016 points) -17 points

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. It is the second race in the 10-race NASCAR Playoffs starts and it starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

COLE CUSTER – 2020 Darlington Throwback Race Report

Event: Cook Out Southern 500 (Round 27 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.366-mile oval)
Format: 367 laps, broken into three stages (115 laps/115 laps/137 laps)
Start/Finish: 14th/12th (Running, completed 367 of 367 laps)
Point Standing: 14th with 2,030 points, 3 points below top-12 cutoff

Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: Martin Truex Jr., of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Martin Truex Jr., of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-115):             

● Cole Custer started 14th and finished 17th.
● Custer pitted during the lap-25 competition caution from 17th after reporting his biggest issue was in turn 3. He restarted 17th.
● On lap 57 the HaasTooling.com driver reported his Mustang was loose into turn 3 and he slipped back to 21st.
● Custer pitted from 20th under green on lap 71 for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help with his tight condition.
● Under caution on lap 83 the 21-year-old driver pitted from 18th for adjustments to help loosen his Mustang up. He restarted 19th.
● During the closing laps of the stage, Custer worked his way up to 17th to finish the stage. The California native pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments during the break.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 116-230):

● Custer started in 18th and finished 24th.
● On lap 172, Custer made a scheduled green-flag pit stop from the top-20 after reporting his Mustang remained tight.
● Under caution on lap 182, Custer pitted from 20th for service and was relegated to restart at the rear of the field after incurring a pit road speeding penalty.
● By lap 192 Custer was up to 25th.
● The rookie driver ended the stage 24th and pitted for service during the stage break.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 231-367):

● Custer started 20th, finished 12th.
● On lap 239 Custer was in the 16th position.
● Under caution on lap 246, Custer pitted from 16th. He restarted 15th on lap 251.
● On lap 254 the Ford driver was in the 11th spot.
● Custer made a scheduled green-flag pit stop on lap 290 from the top-15 and reported he was looking for more long-run speed.
● On lap 310 Custer was in the 12th position and the next caution was displayed on lap 320 with Custer in 13th.
● Custer restarted 14th with 41 laps to go and was up to 12th on lap 333, where he ultimately finished.

Notes:

● Custer earned his ninth top-15 of the season and his first top-15 in three career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Darlington.
● Custer’s 12th-place result bettered his previous best finish at Darlington – 22nd, earned in the series’ last race at the track on May 20.
● Custer was the highest finishing NASCAR Cup Series rookie.
● Kevin Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Austin Dillon was .343 of a second.
● There were seven caution periods for a total of 34 laps.
● Twenty of the 39 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Harvick’s victory in the Cook Out Southern 500 marked the 86th overall win for SHR. It was the organization’s 64th points-paying NASCAR Cup Series victory, its ninth of the season and its third at Darlington.
● This was SHR’s 28th NASCAR Cup Series victory with Ford. The team won its first race with Ford when former driver Kurt Busch captured the 2017 Daytona 500.
● This was Ford’s series-leading 15th NASCAR Cup Series win of the season and its 701st all-time Cup Series victory.
● This was Ford’s milestone 30th NASCAR Cup Series victory at Darlington. Ford’s first Darlington win came in the 1956 Southern 500 with Curtis Turner.

Playoff Standings (with two races to go before Round of 12):

1.      Kevin Harvick (2,106 points) 1 win
2.      Denny Hamlin (2,087 points) +54 points
3.      Joey Logano (2,060 points) +27 points
4.      Brad Keselowski (2,055 points) +22 points
5.      Alex Bowman (2,052 points) +19 points
6.      Martin Truex Jr. (2,049 points) +16 points
7.      Chase Elliott (2,045 points) +12 points
8.      Austin Dillon (2,043 points) +10 points
9.      William Byron (2,042 points) +9 points
10.    Kyle Busch (2,040 points) +7 points
11.    Kurt Busch (2,037 points) +4 points
12.    Aric Almirola (2,033 points) +0 points
13.    Clint Bowyer (2,033 points) -0 points
14.    Cole Custer (2,030 points) -3 points
15.    Matt DiBenedetto (2,016 points) -17 points
16.    Ryan Blaney (2,016 points) -17 points

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“Tonight definitely wasn’t a pretty race, but my team stuck it out. It was a persevering night. We fought hard all night to keep ourselves in the game. We wanted to run better but Darlington definitely hasn’t been our strong suit, but we were able to get a 12th-place result.”

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday, Sept. 12 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. It is the second race in the 10-race NASCAR Playoffs starts and it starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.