COLE CUSTER – 2017 Atlanta Race Report

Event: Atlanta 250 (Round 2 of 33)
Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54-mile oval)
Format: 163 laps, broken into three stages (40 laps/40 laps/83 laps)
Start/Finish: 8th/10th (Running, completed 163 of 163 laps)
Point Standing: 13th (36 point, 34 out of first)
Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-40):

  • Started eighth, finished sixth.
  • Brad Keselowski of Team Penske won Stage 1.
  • Custer raced consistently in the top 10 making his first pit stop during the Stage 1 break where the team changed air pressure adjustments to help a free-handling condition.
  • The Haas Automation crew had a fast pit stop picking up a position during the Stage 1 break.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 41-80):       

  • Started fifth, finished eighth.
  • Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick won Stage 2 in the No. 41 Textron Off Road Ford Mustang.
  • Custer noted a vibration and a free-handling condition coming off of the corner in Turn 4.
  • The Haas Automation team took four tires, made significant air pressure adjustments and added tape during the Stage 2 pit stop maintaining their position for the Stage 3 restart. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 81-163):           

  • Started eighth, finished 10th.
  • During the lap 118 caution period, Custer came down pit road for track bar adjustments picking up two positions on pit road.
  • The Haas Automation crew received a penalty for too many men over the wall and Custer had to start at the tail end of the longest line.
  • Green flag racing resumed on lap 123. Custer was shuffled back on the restart but rebounded back into the top 15 by lap 138.
  • The Haas Automation crew elected to pit during the lap 143 caution for four tires and track bar adjustments to help a free-handling condition.
  • Custer restarted in the 13th spot with 16 laps remaining in the event.
  • Custer raced his way back into the top 10 by lap 160 ultimately finishing the race in the 10th spot. 

Notes:              

  • The Atlanta 250 marked Custer’s seventh career NASCAR XFINITY Series start, and his first at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
  • Custer tied his career-best NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying effort on Saturday by advancing to the final round and clocking in with a time of 30.461 seconds at 182.003 mph in the eighth position. In 2016, he had previously qualified and started eighth at Kentucky Speedway.
  • The Haas Automation driver raced consistently in the top 10 logging 148 laps inside the top 15 before ultimately finishing 10th.
  • Custer earned a driver rating of 92.2 at Atlanta.
  • Custer’s 10th-place finish was his third top-10 in seven career NASCAR XFINITY Series starts and his first top-10 finish of 2017. 

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

“We had a really good Haas Automation Ford Mustang and we just started out really good and went forward, got up to sixth and then we just didn’t have the short run speed from there. We got that penalty which set us back a little bit and fought hard to get back up there. We end up 10th, so it was a solid day. I want to thank Gene Haas, Haas Automation and everyone that has worked extremely hard at Ford and Stewart-Haas, it has been an awesome start of the season for us and I think it will go up from here.”

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule is the Boyd Gaming 300 on Saturday, March 11 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The race starts at 1 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FS1.