On a hot day in Joliet, Illinois, Cole Custer was on fire. Leading five times for 151 of the 200 laps, Custer won Saturday’s Camping World 300 at Chicagoland Speedway in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. This win is his fourth win of the season and his sixth career NASCAR Xfinity Series win.
Custer qualified second for the Camping World 300, starting on the front row alongside Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular Joey Logano. Custer took the lead for the first time on lap three.
The first caution flag flew on lap 13. Justin Allgaier spun his No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, the beginning of his misfortune. He smacked the wall later in the race, and his Camping World 300 ended as a result of the damage. Allgaier remains winless this season.
Custer regained the lead back from Logano on lap 20, and won the first stage. He maintained his lead after the first stage, but Logano regained it on lap 80. Just as Logano took over the lead, the third caution flag flew.
Due to a flat tire, Ryan Sieg lost control of his No. 39 Chevrolet, and he looped it around. He again spun out on lap 112, but was able to continue racing and managed a 13th-place run. He leaves Chicagoland Speedway 98 points above the playoff cut line with 11 races remaining in the regular season.
This caution flag period provided some differing pit strategy. Some of the leaders took fresh tires, yet others saved a set for stage points and in case of a late race caution.
Custer opted to come down pit road. He restarted in 13th place. The race to the end of the second stage consisted of eight laps. When the second stage ended, Custer was in third place. On older tires, Logano won the second stage. He had the second-fastest car in the Camping World 300, so his finish was indicative of the speed in the No. 12 Team Penske Ford.
Unfortunately for Chase Briscoe, he ended the second stage sideways. He spun as the second stage ended, and it set him back. He was running tenth, but his spin ended his chances of earning stage points.
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Custer retook the lead on lap 116, and maintained a healthy lead during the green-flag run.
Green flag pit stops took place, and Custer gave up the lead on lap 154. JR Motorsports teammates Michael Annett and Noah Gragson decided to stay out and stretch their fuel run. They hoped for a caution flag which would keep them in good track position and trap a few cars a lap down.
Their strategy worked to an extent. Annett’s crew chief estimated he could make it to lap 176 on gas. Three laps before Annett planned to pit, BJ McLeod made contact with the wall, bringing out the final caution flag of the Camping World 300. Ross Chastain received the Lucky Dog. He returned to the lead lap and he eventually finished in ninth place.
During the caution flag period, Annett drove around the track on the apron, trying to keep fuel in his No. 1 Chevrolet. Both he and Gragson made it successfully to pit road, but the rest of the leaders also pitted.
The final green flag run was 21 laps. Custer jumped out to the lead, and he won the race by 2.917 seconds over Logano.
In his post-race interview in the media center, Custer was proud of the effort of his Stewart-Haas Racing team. He jokingly commented, “I won this year with Shiplett as the crew chief. He won here last season with Kyle Larson as the driver.”
With four victories this season, Custer didn’t want to think about racing in the Championship 4 round at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but he and Shiplett are confident they can win more races this season.
There were no changes in the race for the playoffs. Reddick, Custer, Bell, and Annett all have won a race this season. The other eight drivers above the playoff cut line maintained their points positions.