Cole Custer Wins at Kemtucky Speedway in NASCAR Xfinity Race

AP Photo - Timothy D. Easley

SPARTA, KY – RIS – Cole Custer won a NASCAR Xfinity Series fifth win of the season in the Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway on Friday night.  Christopher Bell, who had won two of three stages, finished second.  Custer drove his Ford Mustang to the lead and never looked back in the final stage to gain the checkered flag.

"He (Bell) got a little close and I was definitely sweating a little bit," said Custer, who fell backward off his car during the victory lane celebration. "He was definitely our competition there at the end, but we had the better car. I was sweating after that green flag pit stop because he closed in on me and I had trouble with lappers, but we had a good enough car to pull away."

Custer was not seriously challenged in the final laps, of which he led 88, the most on the night.

"We were able to win the two stages, so we got a couple more playoff points," Bell said. "Just got to work on a couple more things and we'll be good."

Bell looked like a winner until darkness fell. Under the lights at the end of a 104-lap green-flag run to the conclusion of the Alsco 300, Custer’s No. 00 Ford crossed the finish line 1.651 seconds ahead of Bell’s No. 20 Toyota. Custer had taken the lead from Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Chase Briscoe on Lap 111 of 200 and held it the rest of the way, save for three laps during a cycle of green-flag pit stops midway through the final run.

Bell charged from fifth to second after a restart on Lap 97 but had nothing for Custer at the end.

“It’s been unbelievable,” said Custer, who won for the first time at Kentucky and the fifth time this season, breaking a tie with Bell for most in the series. “This one just goes to my team. That car was just unbelievable, and they knew exactly what to do with it when the track changed, and I was just lucky to drive it there at the end.”

Michael Annett and Chase Briscoe completed the top five. Only the top five cars finished on the lead lap.

Custer, Bell and reigning series champion Tyler Reddick have dominated the series all year and finished 1-2-3 at Kentucky. Bell, who has four wins this season, won the first two stages and led 72 laps. Reddick, the series points leader and a three-time winner this season, didn't lead a lap.

The victory was the seventh of Custer’s career, it was in doubt only when Custer pitted on Lap 151, three laps after Bell had come to pit road for fuel and tires. In the interim, on fresh rubber, Bell had cut Custer’s lead from three seconds to a half-second, but Bell never got close enough to attempt a righteous pass for the lead.

“I think I was a little too conservative on my green-flag pit stop,” said Custer.  “It worked out good. He got closer, and I was definitely sweating a little bit.

“But we had a fast car and were able to pull away at the end.”

Custer celebrated his victory by stand on the window ledge of the car drinking two beers before falling off the ledge and hitting the ground.  He was not injured and the celebration continued.

Provisional Race Results: 19th Annual Alsco 300 - Kentucky Speedway
Fin, St, Driver, Car, Laps
1) 5, Cole Custer, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford, 200
2) 2, Christopher Bell, No. 20 Ruud Toyota, 200
3) 8, Tyler Reddick, No. 2 Alsco Chevrolet, 200
4) 10, Michael Annett, No. 1 Pilot/Flying J Chevrolet, 200
5) 9, Chase Briscoe #, No. 98 Ford Performance Ford, 200
6) 3, Noah Gragson #, No. 9 Nationwide Children's Chevrolet, 199
7) 4, Justin Allgaier, No. 7 FilterTime Chevrolet, 199
8) 12, Ryan Truex, No. 8 Chevrolet, 199
9) 13, Ryan Sieg, No. 39 Night Owl Contractors Chevrolet, 199
10) 14, Justin Haley #, No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet, 199
11) 7, Riley Herbst(i), No. 18 Monster Energy Toyota, 199
12) 11, John Hunter Nemechek, No. 23 Chevrolet Accessories Chevrolet, 198
13) 18, Jeremy Clements, No. 51 Chevrolet, 198
14) 1, Austin Cindric, No. 22 Mazak Ford, 198
15) 16, Gray Gaulding, No. 08 ABA of Illinois LLC Chevrolet, 198
16) 28, Shane Lee, No. 28 Toyota, 198
17) 17, Brandon Brown #, No. 86 Chevrolet, 197
18) 26, Josh Williams, No. 36 Starbrite Star Tron/Sleepwell Chevrolet, 197
19) 35, Garrett Smithley, No. 0 VictoryLn.QuickOilChange/KendallOilChevrolet, 196
20) 24, BJ McLeod, No. 4 Ken Houston Electric Chevrolet, 196
21) 31, David Starr, No. 52 CircleTrk/DiscountMotors/DonAdamsT Chevrolet, 195
22) 27, Joey Gase, No. 35 Donate Life/Pro Master Toyota, 195
23) 22, Matt Mills, No. 5 J.F. Electric Chevrolet, 194
24) 23, Stephen Leicht, No. 01 Rising Star Casino & Resort Chevrolet, 192
25) 36, Vinnie Miller, No. 78 JW Transport LLC Chevrolet, 190
26) 30, Landon Cassill, No. 15 Chevrolet, 185
27) 37, Mike Harmon, No. 74 Woobie Shoes/Threatcon 5 Clothing Chevrolet, 178
28) 29, Chad Finchum, No. 42 MBM Motorsports Toyota, 154
29) 19, Ronnie Bassett Jr, No. 90 Bassett Gutters and More Chevrolet, 114
30) 6, Brandon Jones, No. 19 Menards/Swiffer Toyota, 106
31) 38, John Jackson, No. 13 CrashClaimsR.Us Toyota, 82
32) 25, Josh Bilicki, No. 93 Chevrolet, 71
33) 34, Camden Murphy(i), No. 17  Chevrolet, 68
34) 33, Morgan Shepherd, No. 89 Visone RV Chevrolet, 55
35) 15, Ray Black Jr, No. 07 ISOKERN Fireplaces/ScubaLife Chevrolet, 39
36) 21, Jeff Green, No. 38 RSS Racing Chevrolet, 25
37) 20, Timmy Hill, No. 66 MBM Motorsports Toyota, 18
38) 32, Ja Junior Avila, No. 99 Art General Contractors Chevrolet, 3
(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series, (#) Rookie

Ron Fleshman with John Davison

RIS NASCAR Editor.  Has been with RIS since the middle 90's. Writes on each of the three main series of NASCAR.

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Volume 2019, Issue 7, Posted 12:45 AM, 07.13.2019