Custer plays strategy to win at Dover

Cole Custer and his No. 00 Stewart Haas team played pit strategy to win Saturday’s NASCAR Xfinity Series Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway. This was Custer’s seventh career victory in 100 starts.

“We just had a great pit call,” Custer said to MRN Radio. “Mike (Shiplett, Crew Chief) made an excellent call there staying out, we caught the caution. Production Alliance Group, it’s their third time and third win. Him and Dale, I can’t thank them enough. For everybody at Ford Performance, Stewart Haas Racing, Gene Haas. Unbelievable year and I can’t thank everyone enough.”

Chase Briscoe qualified on the pole, but due to carburetor problems during qualifying and had to drop to the rear prior to the start of the race. Also playoff driver Michael Annett also had to start in the rear due to a engine change.

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Stages were 45-45-110 to make up the 200 lap race.

Stage 1 Lap 1- Lap 45

There were tons of action in the first stage, especially lap 1. Harrison Burton in the No. 18 got loose off Turn 1 and went spinning on the backstretch, collecting his teammate and playoff driver Brandon Jones. Both had heavy damage and would be out of the race early. In result, Jones playoff hopes were over due to the crash.

In a separate incident, Tyler Reddick got loose as well and slightly tapped the wall, while making contact with Justin Allgaier. A few more incidents occurred in the first stage. Jeremy Clements had his engine expire early on lap 11 and Christopher Bell came down pit road on lap 15 with no fuel pressure. Clements day was done, but Bell came back on-track. It was later reporter that Bell replaced a carburetor while being behind the wall. John Hunter Nemechek made contact with Mike Harmon on lap 21 to bring out the final caution in Stage 1.

After all that chaos early, the stage remained green until the checkered flag flew on lap 45. It was Justin Allgaier who emerged with the stage win. Custer, Austin Cindric, Zane Smith, Justin Haley, Noah Gragson, Chase Briscoe, Ryan Sieg, John Hunter Nemechek and Michael Annett rounded out the top-10 finishers in Stage 1.

Stage 2 Lap 52- Lap 90

Despite a wild Stage 1, Stage 2 saw no incidents and remained green until lap 90. With that in mind, Allgaier once again won the stage. Cindric, Briscoe, Gragson, Custer, Smith, Nemechek, Haley, Annett and Sieg were the top-10 finishers in Stage 2. A big moment came on pit road during the stage break, as Custer won the race off pit road.

Also under the stage break, Nemechek had to come back down pit road due to missing lug nuts, while Gragson had a pit gun failure and also had to make another stop.

Stage 3 Lap 96- Lap 200

When Stage 3 began, it was all Chase Briscoe early taking the lead on lap 98. Briscoe led until lap 168 when he made his last pit stop of the race. During that run, however, he began to report the same problems he had during qualifying.

During the cycle of green flag pit stops, the caution came out on lap 176 for the No. 90 of Dillon Bassett who spun trying to come on pit road. Another yellow came with 12 to go, as Matt Mills, Ray Black Jr and Stephen Leicht were all involved in a accident off Turn 2.

With a late caution also came a late race restart with seven to go. However, Custer was able to hold of the field for his seventh win of the 2019 season.

“It’s huge,” Custer added about the win. “We’ve really stepped it up this year. I feel like we can go to any track to compete for wins. It’s just a matter of us putting it together every weekend. I think we have a shot at any track we go too.”

Custer led twice for 31 laps for his eighth Xfinity Series win of his career. There were six cautions for 33 laps and nine lead changes among six drivers.

As for the playoff drivers, John Hunter Nemechek, Ryan Sieg, Brandon Jones and Justin Haley all failed to make to the next round of the playoffs.

Playoff Points Standings

  1. Cole Custer
  2. Austin Cindric, -25
  3. Justin Allgaier, -31
  4. Christopher Bell, -33
  5. Chase Briscoe, -47
  6. Tyler Reddick, -49
  7. Noah Gragson, -58
  8. Michael Annett, -81

Official Results

  1. Cole Custer, led 31 laps
  2. Justin Allgaier, won both stages, led 67 laps
  3. Austin Cindric, led 29 laps
  4. Justin Haley
  5. Chase Briscoe, led 71 laps
  6. Michael Annett, led one lap
  7. Noah Gragson
  8. John Hunter Nemechek
  9. Zane Smith, one lap down
  10. Ryan Sieg, one lap down
  11. Brandon Brown, two laps down
  12. Tyler Reddick, two laps down
  13. Ross Chastain, two laps down
  14. Dillon Bassett, two laps down
  15. Josh Williams, two laps down
  16. B.J. McLeod, three laps down
  17. Ray Black Jr, three laps down
  18. Gray Gaulding, four laps down
  19. Stefan Parsons, four laps down
  20. Vinnie Miller, four laps down
  21. David Starr, five laps down
  22. Joey Gase, six laps down
  23. Stephen Leicht, OUT, Crash
  24. Matt Mills, OUT, Crash
  25. Christopher Bell, OUT, Carburetor
  26. Garrett Smithley, OUT, Rear Gear
  27. Timmy Hill, OUT, Rear Gear
  28. Carl Long, OUT, Transmission
  29. Landon Cassill, OUT, Electrical
  30. Joe Nemechek, OUT, Rear Gear
  31. Chad Finchum, OUT, Engine
  32. J.J. Yeley, OUT, Brakes
  33. Bayley Currey, OUT, Vibration
  34. Mike Harmon, OUT, Accident
  35. Kyle Weatherman, OUT, Overheating
  36. Jeremy Clements, OUT, Engine
  37. Brandon Jones, OUT, Accident
  38. Harrison Burton, OUT, Accident

Up Next: The NASCAR Xfinity Series take a couple of weeks off before they head back to the Midwest at Kansas Speedway to begin the Round of 8.

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