CONCORD, N.C. — In a season that has so far been filled with ups and downs, Saturday’s Hisense 4K TV 300 could be marked as an up for Cole Custer.
The driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart Haas Racing finished seventh in the race, collecting his third top 10 of the season in the process. It was also his highest finish since he ran fifth in the spring race at Texas one month ago.
Though his two best finishes of the season have both come on quad-ovals, Custer openly admitted that he isn’t exactly in love with that particular type of track. “It’s kind of funny, because it’s probably not my favorite race track but I’ve always seemed like I’ve run pretty decent here,” he said after Saturday’s race. “But we just had a really awesome Haas Automation Ford Mustang. I thought we were a fourth-or-fifth place car and I didn’t have the best restart on the second to last one, but then we came back on the last one. We’ve definitely come a long way and this thing was awesome to drive today.”
Custer started from sixth and jumped up the third position by lap 7. He would stay there for the rest of Stage 1 and finish it there. He then slipped to fifth on the restart to begin Stage 2, and spent the rest of that stage running in fifth.
The driver of the No. 00 ran in sixth briefly at the start of the final stage before making his way back to fifth, and then to fourth on lap 160 after gaining a position on pit road. The top-five run he had maintained through the first three-quarters of the race was only put into jeopardy late in the going, when he fell back to tenth with six laps to go.
Custer battled back for the seventh-place run, but was slightly irritated with himself after the rash of restarts that came once the race passed under the 30-to-go mark. “It was frustrating, for sure,” he said. “I probably had five good restarts and we were running top five and then that one restart I just didn’t do right we fell back to about 11th. You just wished that everybody would stop wrecking and it was frustrating but I definitely learned a lot and we can take it back here next time.”
As he builds more consistency, Custer already is thinking ahead to October’s Drive for the Cure 300, which will be the elimination race for the first round of the XFINITY Series playoffs. “I think we’re definitely good enough to make the playoffs and today was a really good points day for us. We’ll work our way up there and we’ll see. I think we have a good car to come back here with.”
Custer returns to action next Saturday at Dover International Speedway in the OneMain Financial 200 (1 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM).
About the Writer
James Pike is a multi-faceted reporter for Race Chaser Online and an analyst on the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Pike is the lead correspondent for Race Chaser Online’s coverage of Australian Supercars and also covers regional touring series events in the Carolinas, including the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the CARS Tour.
He is a graduate of the Motorsports Management program at Belmont Abbey College and currently resides in Winston-Salem, N.C.
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