FORT WORTH, Texas. -Cole Custer won Saturday’s wild NASCAR Xfinity Series Round of 8 playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway, leading 16 laps for his first win of the season and clinching a spot in the Championship 4 at Homestead in two weeks.
For Custer, it was his first win at Texas, and his first win of the season that propels him into the championship race after entering Saturday seventh in points out of the eight remaining playoff drivers. He’s the defending winner of the season finale.
Fellow Ford playoff driver Austin Cindric battled back from damage throughout the race to finish third, keeping his playoff hopes alive but is in a must-win situation next weekend at Phoenix.
The race had 13 cautions, a record for the series at the track. The final one set up a two-lap shootout for the checkered flag, where Custer battled and held off Reddick for the victory.
FORD FINISHING RESULTS
1st - Cole Custer
3rd - Austin Cindric
13th - Ty Majeski
29th - Ryan Reed
AUSTIN CINDRIC POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang -- Finished 3rd
WALK US THROUGH THAT INCIDENT WITH CHRISTOPHER BELL AND YOU ARE IN A MUST WIN SITUATION NEXT WEEKEND AT PHOENIX. WHAT IS YOUR APPROACH? “I have been in a must-win position since Kansas. For me that hasn’t changed. I was the car stuck on the bottom with one guy all over my tail and one guy all over my door. I moved up two inches and those were the two inches that the 20 was off my door. I think it is just a racing incident. I don't think it was anything intentional. We were just racing hard. I knew he was going to be stuck on the top and I wanted to be on the bottom. I don't see anything further than that. That is his decision to race hard. He was in a points position and I was in a must win position. I don't’ think there was anything to be done different there. I am just glad we didn’t get caught up in it.”
IS IT CHECKERS OR WRECKERS NEXT WEEKEND AT PHOENIX? “I don't think it is checkers or wreckers. We still have an owners championship to think about. A lot of people are invested into this 22 car and a lot of success early on in the year. I definitely have that in the back of my mind every lap I do and the crew does as well. We are fighting for two things but a win definitely helps.”
YOU HAD DAMAGE, DID IT AFFECT THE SPEED OF YOUR CAR? “I had damage from lap one of the race when they had that big stack up and I nursed that damage. That damage got worse and then our contact with the 20 later made that worse. We were basically damaged the whole day. I honestly think we had a race winning car and I think that shows in the final stint. That is a testament to the team and the work those guys did over the wall putting braces in the car and get the bear bond in the right spots to not really slow us down. I knew I was compromising a few circumstances but overall I think we had an amazing Ford Mustang today and it was just track position. I wasn’t able to capitalize on that having to come from the back on nearly every restart. It was a lot of fun in the end now that I look back on it and say that I survived.”
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Autodesk Ford Mustang - Finished 1st
“I can’t believe it. The 1 is the best pusher in the series and I hated that I didn’t have him behind me. We did all we could. I drove it in deeper than I have all weekend and it worked out. I am pumped for Autodesk, their first time on the car. Gene Haas, I wouldn’t be here without him and Haas Automation. I am pumped. We are going to Homestead and I think we have a great shot of winning.”
YOU WON THAT RACE LAST YEAR. YOU PUNCHED YOUR TICKET, HOW DOES THAT FEEL? “We haven’t won all year but we have been so close. It starts to frustrate you. We kept going and this is a perfect time to do it. Thank you to all the fans. Texas is always a great place to come. Thank you guys.”
JEFF MEENDERING, crew chief, No. 00 Autodesk Ford Mustang -- YOU TOOK SOME CHANCES OUT THERE: “Yeah, we did. It was a nerve wracking race for sure but Cole did an awesome job and our guys did a great job on the car. It is great to have a new sponsor on and get those guys to victory lane and get our team to Homestead.”
HOW CLOSE WERE YOU ON FUEL? “Well, all those cautions got us about seven laps but you always worry about the pickup on the restarts.”
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang - Finished 3rd
“After everything that happened today this is great. I would have just been happy to finish the thing not in the fence. Every opportunity to be in the middle of something it seemed we were there. It is just perseverance by everyone. The guys over the wall did an amazing job getting the right front fender fixed. We almost had a tire go down because of it. I am really thankful to still be in the playoffs and still have a shot to win a race. We were a few bumps and bangs away from really benefiting from that one. I was yelling all the way down the backstretch for something to happen. I am thankful to everyone at Team Penske for really pushing hard this weekend. Obviously it is no doubt that these guys are the best in the business. To be able to unload a backup car and have a top-three finish is unheard of. I am pumped. I am ready to go to Phoenix and go put on a show and have a little fun.”
RYAN REED, No. 16 Lilly Diabetes Ford Mustang - Finished 29th
“We just struggled all day. We tried a lot of stuff and it just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to. I am really proud of the effort of the guys for sticking with it. All the 16 team guys. I couldn’t ask for a better group of guys to work hard and at least try to go for successful runs. Unfortunately the parts and pieces just weren’t there this evening.”