Event: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (Round 34 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 334 laps, broken into three stages (105 laps/105 laps/124 laps)
Note: Race was stopped after 52 laps due to rain and wasn’t able to resume until Wednesday night.
Start/Finish: 16th/14th (Running, completed 334 of 334 laps)
Point Standing: 16th with 2,169 points
Race Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-105):
● Cole Custer started 16th and finished 14th.
● By the lap-25 competition caution, Custer was in the 11th position and reported his Mustang was tight. He pitted for two tires, fuel and adjustments, and restarted sixth.
● By lap 31 Custer reached the top-five, but slipped back to 20th on lap 33 after the No. 41 Mustang got loose.
● The caution was displayed for rain on lap 43 and Custer pitted for service from the 24th position. The race was eventually red flagged for precipitation until Wednesday.
● Once the event resumed, Custer restarted from the 21st position. He survived a couple of early cautions and was in the 14th position on lap 76.
● 72 hours after the green-flag dropped, Stage 1 ended with Custer in the 14th spot.
● The Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com driver pitted and fell to 23rd when another car blocked him in his pit stall during the stage break.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 106-210):
● Custer started 23rd and finished 13th.
● A solid restart launched Custer up to 14th by lap 118.
● On lap 132, the Ford driver reported his Mustang was loose and he pitted under caution on lap 136. After getting blocked in his pit stall once again, he restarted 22nd.
● On lap 165, the rookie driver reported his Mustang’s handling was improving as the run continued while he remained in the 16th spot.
● The California native made a scheduled green-flag pit stop from 18th on lap 196 for two right-side tires and fuel.
● On lap 205, Custer reported his car had a vibration before ultimately finishing 13th in Stage 2.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 211-334):
● Custer started 12th, finished 14th.
● Custer remained in the top-15 during the opening green-flag run. He made a scheduled pit stop on lap 275 and returned to the field in 17th.
● On lap 317, Custer was in the 15th position.
● In the closing laps, Custer worked his way up to the 14th position to take the checkered flag.
● Custer earned his 13th top-15 of the season and his first top-15 in his second career NASCAR Cup Series start at Texas.
● This was Custer’s third straight top-15. He finished ninth on Oct. 11 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval and 14th in the series’ previous race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
● Kyle Busch won the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 to score his 57th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his first of the season and his fourth at Texas. His margin of victory over second-place Martin Truex Jr., was .468 of a second.
● There were eight caution periods for a total of 47 laps.
● Only 15 of the 40 drivers in the race finished on the lead lap.
● Kevin Harvick remains the championship leader after Texas with a 15-point advantage over second-place Denny Hamlin.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Man, it has definitely been a long few days in Texas. We pulled off a top-15 finish and made the most of our day. The Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com guys did a great job.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Xfinity 500 on Sunday, Nov. 1 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. It is the penultimate race of the 10-race playoffs and the final race in the Round of 8. It starts at 2 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.