Custer takes Kentucky for fifth Xfinity win of 2019

Cole Custer took the Alsco 300 at Kentucky Speedway Friday night, leading 88 of the 200 scheduled laps to take his fifth NASCAR Xfinity Series win of 2019. The win gives him the most wins of anyone this season, breaking the tie with Christopher Bell, who has four so far in 2019.

Bell finished second in his Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, while Tyler Reddick took home third, Michael Annett finished fourth, and Chase Briscoe finished fifth. Noah Gragson, Justin Allgaier, Ryan Truex, Ryan Sieg, and Justin Haley rounded out the top-10. The race was slowed by five cautions for 24 laps, with 14 lead changes among eight drivers.

“It’s been unbelievable,” said Custer. “This one just goes to my team. That car was just unbelievable, and they knew exactly what to do with it when the track changed, and I was just lucky to drive it there at the end.”

When asked if he could have gotten by Bell late in the going, Custer was clear that it would have been a challenge.

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“It is hard to say,” said Custer. “At that point, I thought I would. He was close enough to us in lap time that I thought if he got the lead at that point it would have been really hard to get back by him. Dirty air is always a little bit of a factor here. I don’t know if the PJ1 really made it better or worse tonight. It may have made it a little better. Clean air is always key.”

Mike Shiplett, Crew Chief for the No. 00, was clear that he could sense Custer’s growing maturity and confidence.

“I think every time he gets in the race car he just gets a little bit better just in the way he communicates with us and the way he keeps focusing forward and driving,” said Shiplett. “He is doing a great job. I am proud of him.”

Third-place finisher Reddick scored his first top-five finish since winning at Michigan, which capped a 10-race stretch where he finished no worse than fourth. He won three times during that stretch (Talladega, Charlotte, Michigan), but in the three races prior to Kentucky, his best finish was ninth at Chicago.

“After the last couple of weeks, we needed a solid race like tonight to get back into our groove,” said Reddick. “The balance was tricky to get figured out tonight. Firing off to start the race, I was just way too loose and would fall back on any restarts. We’d build tight the longer we went in a run, but it was just a little too late to contend for the lead at the end of the stages.”

Austin Cindric, who currently sits fourth in points, had an up-and-down day as well. Despite starting on the pole and leading a lap late in the going, a lap 56 spin ended with him gently backing into the wall. He would go on to finish 14th, two laps down.

Another front-runner who faced adversity was JGR driver Brandon Jones. Jones led 12 laps early in the going after starting sixth. However, an engine failure on lap 106 netted him a 30th-place finish and his second-straight DNF. His sixth DNF of 2019 leaves him on the Playoff bubble in 12th.

The series heads into Loudon on July 20, as the ROXOR 200 will air at 4 p.m. EST on NBCSN.

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