Event: Big Machine Hand Sanitizer 400 (Round 16 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Indianapolis Motor Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Format: 160 laps, broken into three stages (50 laps/50 laps/60 laps)
Note: Race extended one lap past its scheduled 160-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Winner: William Byron of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Kevin Harvick of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-50):
● Cole Custer started 30th and finished 14th.
● During the lap-12 competition caution Custer reported his No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 Ford was just a tick loose while running 21st.
● On lap 38, Custer picked up a piece of trash on the grille, but was able to continue on.
● The California native reported his Mustang was starting to get tight while running 16th on lap 40.
● The rookie driver ended the stage in 14th and reported his Mustang was, “a little tighter off,” but didn’t visit pit road.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 51-100):
● Custer started in 10th and finished 13th.
● On the lap-74 caution, Custer pitted from 13th and restarted 14th on lap 83.
● With two cautions in a short span, Custer didn’t pit and ultimately restarted 16th on lap 91.
● By lap 97, Custer worked his way back up to 13th, where he ultimately ended the stage.
● During the Stage break, Custer pitted for fuel, four tires and adjustments to free his Mustang up a little bit.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 101-161):
● Custer started 16th, finished fifth.
● As the front of the field began to make scheduled green-flag pit stops, Custer stayed out on the track allowing him to gain positions.
● “It’s starting to get too tight,” Custer radioed on lap 128 from fifth about his Ford Mustang.
● Under caution on lap 134, Custer pitted from the fourth position for fuel and four tires and restarted sixth.
● Custer was able to work his way back into the top-five just after the restart, and ran as high as fourth, before getting passed by teammate Aric Almirola on lap 145.
● On lap 154, the caution came out and moved Custer in to the fourth position.
● On the only attempt of a green-white-checkered finish, Custer lined up fourth behind teammate and leader Kevin Harvick.
● Custer nudged the rear of Harvick’s No. 4 machine to help push him to the lead on the restart and Custer ultimately finished fifth.
● Custer’s fifth-place finish was his best result in 19 career NASCAR Cup Series starts, and it came in his first Cup Series start at Indianapolis.
● This was Custer’s first top-five and second top-10 of the season.
● Custer was the highest finishing NASCAR Cup Series rookie.
● Harvick’s margin of victory over second-place Matt Kenseth was .743 of a second.
● There were nine caution periods for a total of 43 laps.
● Only 19 of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Harvick remains the championship leader after Indianapolis with an 85-point advantage over second-place Chase Elliott.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“It is awesome to have all of SHR running well here at Indy. It is Tony’s (Stewart) backyard so it is a huge race for us. For us, our team, this package has been exactly the opposite of what I am used to driving. For it to all come together today means a lot. Thanks to all of the guys at SHR for bringing great race cars. HaasTooling.com went national this week, so check them out. I am psyched. I am really happy we finally had it all come together.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Kentucky 400 on Sunday, July 12 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. The race starts at 2:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.