The box score will show Cole Custer finishing in eighth place when the checkered flag flew in the NASCAR XFINITY Series at Chicagoland Speedway, but that doesn’t tell the whole story.
Custer led a career-high 41 laps in Saturday’s TheHouse.com 300 from Chicagoland and had the quickest racecar he’s had since joining Stewart-Haas Racing’s newly formed XFINITY Series program.
But he was in the wrong place at the wrong time on a restart, which ruined his chance at victory.
“Yeah, I mean, we were in a really good spot, actually,” Custer said on pit road following his eighth-place run. “And on that restart, me and [Ryan] Blaney, it was just Erik [Jones] going really hard for the win there, which I understand. I just got kind of blocked in there and couldn’t really go anywhere. It was a good race for us. I’m not too disappointed.”
What a restart by Justin Allgaier! Ryan Blaney hits the wall!
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) September 16, 2017
In Stage 2, Custer was being run down by Kyle Larson for the lead but wasn’t going to give it up without a fight. The two battled for the top spot for around 10 laps before Larson eventually prevailed. But the battle saw Custer complete a crossover move successfully on Larson –twice.
“Yeah, that was really fun,” Custer said. “One of the most fun times I’ve had in a stock car, doing those crossover passes. I have respect for him racing me clean there. That was a lot of fun.”
Custer will enter the 2017 playoffs as the No. 8 seed (tied for sixth with four drivers), 20 points behind the leader. And he was happy with the momentum that this run gave his No. 00 team heading into the postseason.
“I like the momentum we’re carrying into the (playoffs),” Custer went on to say following his 13th top-10 finish of the season. “It was a big confidence boost, especially after last week. It was a really bad week for us last week. We just unloaded really fast and didn’t race good. (Today) was a really good run for us, just to run up front all day. That’s something we haven’t done all year, so that was really big for us”
— Stewart-Haas Racing (@StewartHaasRcng) September 16, 2017
Custer will look to open his inaugural playoff campaign with his first-ever XFINITY Series victory at Kentucky Speedway next weekend.