BRISTOL, Tenn. - The day started well for Cole Custer as he earned the first NASCAR XFINITY Series pole for Stewart-Haas Racing, but a speeding penalty at the end of Stage 1 put him behind and ultimately led to an eighth-place finish in Saturday’s Fitzgerald Glider Kits 300 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
With no Monster Energy NASCAR Cup drivers in the field, it was a wide-open contest, but an omen of things to come for Ford drivers happened on lap six when Kaz Grala, Ty Majeski and Chase Briscoe received damage in a multi-car accident. Custer finished fourth in Stage 1, but restarted 24th after the penalty and never got back to the front.
Austin Cindric had a steady afternoon going and it appeared he would be the beneficiary of a timely lucky dog, getting back on the lead lap in eighth-place for the final restart with 10 laps to go. He was up to seventh and battling Tyler Reddick to the checkered flag when the made contact. Cindric hit the wall and ended up limping across the finish line 12th.
Ryan Reed had issues with a handful of laps to go and finished 18th while Briscoe was 23rd, Dylan Lupton 31st, Majeski 34th and Grala 38th.
The series continues its short track portion of the schedule next Friday at Richmond Raceway.
Ford Finishing Order:
8th - Cole Custer
12th - Austin Cindric
18th - Ryan Reed
23rd - Chase Briscoe
28th - Dylan Lupton
34th - Ty Majeski
38th - Kaz Grala
POST RACE QUOTES
COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang
“We were pretty fast at the start and I made a mistake speeding on pit road and that put us behind. We just didn’t have anything after about 40 laps. We worked hard and I thought we had a lot better shot at it, but we’ll move on to the next one.”
YOU'RE BACK TO THE TOP FIVE, BUT COULDN’T GET ALL THE WAY THERE. “I think we were a third-place car on the short run, but all of those guys were in the way and you just get stuck. It’s part of it, but we’ll come back better.”
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 Fitzgerald Glider Kits Ford Mustang
“I saw a good day almost come to completion. It wasn’t a perfect day. We got top-5 stage points in both stages and I was real happy about that. We were way too loose on that long run and lost a lot early. We kind of gained it back and then got the lucky dog there and got a decent restart. I got up to seventh and it just looked like the 9 got loose up top and hooked us into the fence and destroyed a good race car.”
CHASE BRISCOE, No. 98 Ford Mustang
“We got that damage on whatever lap it was and after that we were just biding our time and trying to make the best of the day. I felt like we honestly weren’t bad. I’m really proud of all the guys. They kept fighting all day long. They could have easily given up, but they continued to fight, so, overall I’m happy.”
TY MAJESKI, No. 60 Sunny D Ford Mustang
“We just got caught up in that first wreck really early in the race and got some left-front damage. We had flat left-front and went two laps down and could never really recover from that. We were just racing in the back and when you’re racing in the back like that there’s nowhere to go here at Bristol when stuff happens in front of you. I just got caught up and totaled out day.”
DISAPPOINTING BECAUSE YOU HAVE LIMITED OPPORTUNITIES AND WANT TO RUN ALL THE LAP, RIGHT? “Yeah, for sure. Like I said, it’s disappointing. We had a couple laps there on that last run under green and we were running lap times that could have run in the top 5 or top 10 for sure. It’s good that we had a decent Ford Mustang, but it sucks. I’ve got to make the most of all these opportunities that I get and it’s a bummer that this one has ended short.”
DYLAN LUPTON, No. 28 Smart Emissions Reducer Ford Mustang
“I was called to come in this car today and drive the No. 28 Smart Emissions Ford and we were just struggling from the beginning. We had overheating problems all throughout the day from about lap 25. We had to come in. We had to put water in it and then we blew a water line later on, and then on that restart the motor just let go and oil went everywhere and I just couldn’t get it to turn.”
WHEN DID YOU GET THE CALL TO DRIVE? “The decision was made this morning. Tony (Mrakovich) came this weekend and he’s a great driver. NASCAR thought it was in his best interest to go to a track that would probably be a little bit more friendly. This place is tough. I had to get in and run my first laps this morning and I was learning as the race went, but it’s a tough place. It’s really tough, but I’m very thankful that Smart Emissions Reducer gave me the opportunity to come out and have some fun with the 28 guys and we’ll see how we do next race.”