COLE CUSTER – 2017 Darlington NXS Race Report

September 2nd, 2017

Cole Custer Finishes Ninth at Darlington

Haas Automation Driver Earns Third-Straight Top-10

Date: Sep. 2, 2017
Event: Sport Clips VFW 200 (Round 24 of 33)
Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series
Location: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway (1.366-mile oval)
Format: 147 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/57 laps)
Start/Finish: 4th/9th (Running, completed 148 of 148 laps)
Point Standing: 6th (590 points, 268 out of first)

Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota) in overtime.
Stage 1 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):

  • Cole Custer started fourth, finished 14th.
  • Custer jolted his Haas Automation Ford Mustang to second on the initial restart before a caution on lap one slowed the race.
  • On lap 27, Custer noted tight-handling conditions, ultimately pushing him out of the top-10 before the end of Stage 1.
  • At the conclusion of the stage, Custer pitted for four tires, fuel and wedge adjustments.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):       

  • Started 12th, finished 13th.
  • Custer noted severe loose-handling conditions throughout Stage 2.
  • He battled just outside of the top-10 for the duration of the stage.
  • After the stage ended, Custer pitted for four fresh tires, fuel and more wedge adjustments to tighten his Haas Automation Mustang.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 91-147):

  • Started 14th, finished ninth.
  • Custer battled his Haas Automation Mustang back into the top-10 on the restart.
  • Custer ran consistently in eighth until the caution on lap 138. He pitted for four tires and restarted in the seventh position.
  • After a final caution leading into overtime, Custer restarted from the 10th position and battled to ninth place to secure a top-10 in his first start at Darlington.

Notes:              

  • There were a total of 11 lead changes among five drivers.
  • Custer earned his 12th top-10 of the 2017 season and his 14th top-10 in 29 XFINITY Series starts.
  • Nine cautions slowed the race for 33 laps.
  • Denny Hamlin won the Sport Clips VFW 200 to score his 17th career XFINITY Series victory, second of the 2017 season and fifth at Darlington Raceway. His margin of victory over second-place Joey Logano was .185 of a second.

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

“We started off fairly decent. We just needed that run to go green that first run. I honestly didn’t know what the track was going to do. The next run we made a wrong adjustment just because I was probably saying the wrong thing. We put it back and were pretty decent. We just needed the restarts to go our way a little bit better there at the end. Overall, it was a solid day. I wanted a little bit better, but it is what it is. It was an honor to run the Sam Ard paint scheme this weekend on our Haas Automation Mustang.”