NCWTS: Cole On Top; Custer Wins Pole for Martinsville Truck Race

Kyle Magda Featured, MidSouth, NASCAR 0 Comments

MARTINSVILLE, Va. — Report by Race Chaser Online Associate Editor Kyle Magda — Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images North America photo —

17-year-old Cole Custer hasn’t won a pole in the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.

Until Saturday. The JR Motorsports driver turned the fastest lap of the weekend at 19.53 seconds (96.595 mph) to secure the 21 Means 21 Pole Award for Saturday’s Kroger 200.

“I wasn’t really expecting that great of a lap in qualifying,” Custer said. “I thought we really had a great long run truck, but these guys did a great job on it. Tires came in really good. It’s been a while since I’ve gotten a pole. I didn’t know if I was going to get one this year, but there’s no better place to have it than Martinsville.”

Custer led late in March’s race until being bounced around in the final laps to finish 16th. He has one win on the season which came at Gateway in June. Since then, the son of Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Joe Custer, won an ARCA race at Pocono in August for more track-time on superspeedways.

Starting alongside the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet is Cameron Hayley in his No. 13 Toyota. Hayley was the quickest after first round of qualifying before falling short of winning the pole in the last round. He was also the highest-qualifying ThorSport Racing driver, as both Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter missed the cut for the final round of the session. Crafton led on a green-white-checkered finish there in March before being passed in a three-wide move by eventual race winner Joey Logano.

“We started 13th in the spring here and we were leading the race on a green-white-checkered, so not really worried about it,” Crafton said. “I know we have a really good race truck.”

Crafton qualified the worst of the championship contenders in 13th while Tyler Reddick and Erik Jones qualified inside the top-10 for Saturday’s race. Reddick starts fourth with E. Jones rolling off from the eighth spot. Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Gray Gaulding starts right next to the series points leader in seventh. KBM qualified back-to-back-to-back, with XFINITY driver Daniel Suarez leading the bunch in sixth. Suarez is in the same truck that has won the last four Martinsville fall races.

Several drivers scattered throughout the field are making their NCWTS debut Saturday at the .526-mile track. Austin Cindric and Ross Kenseth made their first laps in practice Friday in preparation for the Kroger 200. Kenseth tested there before the weekend and narrowly missed making the second round of qualifying to start 25th in his No. 18 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota.

“We only ran three laps and I felt like we had a good enough truck to get somewhere near the top-12, probably make that third round,” Kenseth said. “We spent a lot of time working on race runs. It’d take our truck five-to-six laps to come in to run times close to those guys, so it’s disappointing; bad luck there. Happy to be in the show, it’s our first start as a team together, their first start of this year and I got a lot of trucks to pass today.”

NTS Motorsports driver Daniel Hemric qualified fifth while being the quickest truck in the second round of qualifying, yet to win a race on the 2015 season. His best-career finish is a fourth, coming at Mosport in August.

Eldora runner-up Bobby Pierce makes his asphalt debut in a truck and starts 28th in the No. 63 Mittler Motorsports Chevrolet.

36 trucks went for 32 spots in Saturday’s race, with Brandon Brown, Jim Weiler, Norm Benning and Charles Buchanan Jr. the four trucks to miss the race.

The green flag for the Kroger 200 drops shortly after 1:30 p.m. ET and will be shown live on FOX Sports 1.

RESULTS; NASCAR Camping World Truck Series; Keystone Light Pole Qualifying; Martinsville Speedway; October 31, 2015:

  1. Cole Custer
  2. Cameron Hayley
  3. John Hunter Nemechek
  4. Tyler Reddick
  5. Daniel Hemric
  6. Daniel Suarez
  7. Gray Gaulding
  8. Erik Jones
  9. Tyler Young
  10. Ben Kennedy
  11. Timothy Peters
  12. David Gilliland
  13. Matt Crafton
  14. Austin Cindric
  15. Dalton Sargeant
  16. Brandon Jones
  17. Johnny Sauter
  18. Caleb Holman
  19. Mason Mingus
  20. Spencer Gallagher
  21. Ray Black Jr.
  22. J.J. Haley
  23. Travis Kvapil
  24. Timmy Hill
  25. Ross Kenseth
  26. John Wes Townley
  27. Austin Hill
  28. Bobby Pierce
  29. Brandon Hightower
  30. Camden Murphy
  31. Paige Decker
  32. Jennifer Jo Cobb

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