Cole Custer Scores First Top-Five of 2017
Cole Custer had to battle hard throughout the My Bariatric Solutions 300 at Texas Motor Speedway, but he got a finish to show for it this time around.
The Stewart-Haas Racing rookie hasn’t started off 2017 as planned, wrecking in three of five races to start the year despite running up front each week. After posting a pair of top-15s at Atlanta and Las Vegas, he got together with Austin Dillon with 11 laps to go, followed by Ryan Seig turning him at Auto Club Speedway.
While other weeks he has started the race up front, Custer wasn’t in the top-10 till Lap 45, when his team chose to take two tires on pit road. Custer used the strategy to run just inside the top-10, pitting under caution with seven laps to go in stage two. Once the leaders pitted at the stage’s conclusion, Custer shuffled back up to the front, where he remained for the race’s second half en route to finishing fifth.
“We had an awesome Haas Automation Mustang, we just had to bide our time,” he said. “We kept getting stuck on the outside on the restarts and had to wait and wait until we got track position on the bottom. We had a really strong run. I can’t thank everybody enough who made this happen. I feel like I am getting more and more comfortable as I get experience and used to racing everybody. We are making strides, both me and the team.”
It is his first XFINITY top-five of 2017 and allowed him to be the highest-finishing series regular on Saturday. Racing against the series veterans and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars, Custer says he was able to learn a lot.
“You just want to push yourself more,” he said. “I have known we had pretty fast cars and could compete with them, so I wasn’t overly shocked that we were up there, but it was definitely a really good run that we needed with what has happened over the last couple of weeks.”
The momentum going into Bristol Motor Speedway in a couple of weeks and beyond is something Custer says is important for his team.
“We had pretty solid cars the last couple weeks, and even at Atlanta we had a good car just haven’t gotten the finishes,” he said. “We haven’t done that. It was me making mistakes and just having random things happen. If we can keep these solid runs going, we will work our way back up there in the points. I feel like we can do this. We have had fast cars the last couple of weeks. We will just keep plugging away at it.”
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