By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
BRISTOL, Tenn. – Despite a chaotic night, Cole Custer squeezed out a top-five finish at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver had speed throughout the entire Food City 300.
Several times Custer’s No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang was squeezed into the outside wall by his competitors. In the waning laps, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ty Dillon clipped Custer. The Xfinity regular slipped outside the top-10. Attrition dropped Dillon and Daniel Hemric out, sending the race into overtime. With fresh tires, Custer jumped into the top-five, taking the checkered flag in fourth.
“We got lucky with the 23 having a problem because we actually got to start sixth, so we got the top and were able to roll the speed up there,” Custer admitted. “That was pretty much it. We just kind of got the luck of the draw there, but we definitely had a pretty solid car.”
Custer’s speed was evident as he finished the first stage in fifth. Stage two appeared to be more of the same until the second-year driver was squeezed into the wall. Although undamaged, the loss of momentum dropped Custer out of the top-10 before the end of the stage.
“It was hectic,” Custer said. “Wasn’t going to play out as a good night. We made our car a lot better. We were really good on the long run, just didn’t have the short run speed. We got lucky there, restarting on the outside a few times. Just got used up on restarts, I don’t know what else I could have done. Guys just raced dirty. We’ll know that for the future and move on to Road America to try to win one.”
The fourth-place finish was the eighth top-five of the season for Custer. He remains fourth in the Championship Points Standings, just 19-Points behind Christopher Bell. With only four races remaining in the regular season, the battle for the Regular Season Championship, and 15 extra Playoff Points, remains wide open.
Custer is 322-Points ahead of the cutoff for the Playoffs held by Ross Chastain. He can lock himself into the Playoffs on points next weekend at Road America.