By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
Cole Custer’s impressive run in TheHouse.com 300 at Chicagoland ended after a late race restart. After leading 47 laps, Custer took the checkered flag in seventh-place.
On a restart with 11 laps to go, Custer followed his fellow Ford Performance competitor, Ryan Blaney. Contact between Blaney and Erik Jones sent them into the wall. Custer was so close behind the drivers that he rear-ended Blaney with his No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang. The loss of momentum dropped him from the top-10. A quick caution shortly after allowed Custer’s Stewart Haas Racing team to make repairs, allowing him to salvage a seventh-place finish.
Custer dominated the first half of the final stage of the NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. He held off Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Kyle Larson in a 10-lap battle. Larson looked high and low, even diving past Custer. Custer pulled off the cross-over not once, but twice before lap traffic finally decided the battle.
Custer was happy with the speed his team had,
“I was happy with that today. That is the best speed we have had all year in the Haas Automation Mustang. It was really good. The four of us up front kind of gave it to the 7 car but that is how it is sometimes. I was happy with our run. I think we showed a lot of speed today.”
Custer’s strong run makes him a contender in the 2017 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs. On 1.5-mile tracks alone he has an average finish of 8.5 this season, one of the best among full-time Xfinity Series competitors.
Custer was proud to regain some momentum,
“It is huge. The last few races have been kind of rough for us. We’ve had a lot of speed but didn’t finish it of good but this weekend we kind of put it all together, showed the speed, would have had a really great finish. It is a huge momentum builder.”
This was Custer’s 13th top-10 this season in 26 races. It is also the 15th of his career. After reseeding for the Playoffs, Custer is now tied for sixth in points, 20 behind points leader, and fellow Rookie of the Year contender, William Byron.
Now Custer and his Stewart Haas Racing team will look to carry this momentum into the first race of the Playoffs at Kentucky Speedway next weekend.