It was a tale of two halves, as two of the Big Three showed dominating performances in the first and second portions of the Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway. Ultimately, Cole Custer led a race-high 88 laps en-route to his fifth victory of the 2019 Xfinity Series season.
Custer snagged the lead shortly after Brandon Jones retired from the race due to a blown engine and lapped most of the field. Just five cars remained on the lead lap when the checkered flag waved. Christopher Bell, who won the first two stages, came in second. Tyler Reddick, Michael Annett and Chase Briscoe rounded out the top five.
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Bell darted out to the lead and never looked back in this stage. After the caution came out for Ja Junior Avila’s No. 99 car hitting the wall hard, Bell retook the lead and won the stage. Pole-sitter Austin Cindric, Allgaier, Reddick and Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Jones rounded out the top five. Reddick made a nice save before the first caution when he got loose while racing with Jones.
Allgaier’s fellow JR Motorsports teammate Gragson finished sixth in the stage, with Custer close behind in seventh. Annett, Jones’ JGR cohort Riley Herbst, and Chase Briscoe finished up the top 10. Just 17 cars finished the stage on the lead lap.
Haley’s No. 11 Kaulig Racing team took a gamble during the caution break, taking two tires while all those behind took four. Haley tried to hang on to the lead but was ultimately overtaken by Jones. As Cindric battled Haley for fourth, he got loose, and the rear of the car crunched the outside wall. Haley also suffered some damage on the right side of his car.
Bell was able to muster his way to the lead on the restart and led for a few laps until Ronnie Bassett Jr. spun and brought out the caution. Bell’s fast No. 20 Toyota charged to the front and won the second stage. Jones, Custer, Gragson, and Allgaier rounded out the top five. The rest of the top 10 were Reddick, Annett, Ryan Truex, Herbst, and John Hunter Nemechek. Truex made his second start of the season for JRM and announced he will drive at New Hampshire as well next week.
Jones had an unfortunate end in the final stage:
Any chance at a win seems to be gone for @BrandonJonesRac.
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While leading the race at about the halfway mark, smoke started coming into the car, and Jones had to give up the lead to Briscoe. He brought it down pit road, where he was done for the day. Meanwhile, Custer took first from Briscoe, and Bell followed suit. The rest of the race was fairly uneventful, save for a couple of green flag pit stop penalties for Nemechek and Herbst. Nemechek left his box with a wrench in the back window, and Herbst drove through too many boxes.
After that final set of pit stops, Custer retained the lead and soared to victory, with Bell well over a second behind.
The Xfinity Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next Saturday, July 20, at 4 p.m. ET for the Lakes Region 200, set to air on NBCSN.