BROOKLYN, Mich. - Three Ford Mustangs finished inside the top-five after a frantic dash to beat the weather in a rain-shortened NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Michigan International Speedway Saturday afternoon. The race started approximately three hours late after rain showers pelted the track in the morning and early afternoon.
Cole Custer finished third with Ryan Reed fourth and Paul Menard fifth. All three drivers led laps at one point during the race.
Kevin Harvick, who also led early in the race, finished eighth to make it four Mustangs in the top-10.
The race was halted just 34 laps shy off the 125-lap, 250-mile distance.
Kaz Grala put together a strong run, finishing 12th, but not before he battled for the lead toward the end of Stage 2, having come from the back of the field twice. Grala led five laps in all before getting shuffled back to the middle of the pack but was able to score stage points in both stages.
The bad luck continued for the No. 60 team, this time with Austin Cindric behind the wheel. Cindric spun just prior to the stage two flags and wound up finishing 23rd.
Custer is now second in the driver standings, 41 points behind leader Elliott Sadler (Chevy) with Ryan Reed 10th (-162).
The Xfinity Series continues next Sunday evening in a stand-alone event at Iowa Speedway. Green flag is set for 5 pm from Iowa.
FORD FINISHING RESULTS
3rd -- Cole Custer
4th -- Ryan Reed
5th -- Paul Menard
8th -- Kevin Harvick
12th -- Kaz Grala
23rd -- Austin Cindric
POST RACE QUOTES
COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang -- Finished 3rd
YOU AND YOUR TEAM SEEM TO BE ON FIRE RECENTLY: “Today we were just in the right place at the right time and had great strategy. I think my crew chief had a great strategy and got us track position at the end. Our Code 3 Ford Mustang was pretty solid. It was hard to pass. You don’t want to be on the bottom. We had some things go our way and ended up P3 there.”
PAUL MENARD, No. 22 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang -- Finished 5th
HOW WAS THE PACKAGE FOR YOU? “It was alright. I thought it was kind of boring at the start and really exciting at the finish. We kind of rode around the top early trying to figure out what the cars need and at the end a race broke out. It sucks that the rain came but we had a really fast Ford.”
RYAN REED, No. 16 Drive Down A1C Lily Diabetes Ford Mustang -- Finished 4th
YOU ARE A GOOD PLATE TRACK RACER, WOULD YOU LIKEN THIS TO PLATE TRACK RACING? “Yeah, it is very similar. I think just being smart and knowing where the momentum is going. I lot of credit goes to my spotter, Herm, he spots for Ricky (Stenhouse Jr.) and he does a great job. He has had a lot of plate racing success with Ricky’s two wins and my two wins at Daytona. Then also to Roush Fenway who brings really good Ford Mustangs here. Everyone on this team did a really good job all weekend. Thanks to Lily Diabetes. This was a lot of fun. When we have fast race cars and go to the tracks we know we are good at it is a lot of fun and we need to make that kind of progress on the tracks we aren’t so close on. We have a really good team.”
KAZ GRALA, No. 61 NETTTS Ford Mustang -- Finished 12th
“I wish this rain would have come a little sooner. It was a really great race though. My NETTTS Mustang was really good all day with a lot of speed and handled perfectly. We came from the back twice and somehow managed to get stage points in both stages. I don’t know how we did that. That was fun. I like this aero package for this specific track a lot. I wish the rain had come a little earlier or if I had gone into turn one with my rear wheels on the ground. Either way I think the outcome could have been different.”
KEVIN HARVICK, No. 98 FIELDS Ford Mustang -- Finished 8th
“It was a good race for us. Our Mustang was fast. We just kind of guessed at the rain strategy getting just past Stage 2 and it wound up going way further than that so we had to come from the back one more time and I had a couple moments where I lost four or five spots and I was just never able to get back up to the front.”
COLE CUSTER POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
TALK ABOUT THE STRATEGY AFTER STAGE 2: “I was really happy with the strategy my crew chief called. It seemed like we pitted once and just tried to stretch it as long as we could with the rain. That was a great call because track position was pretty much everything. If you got sucked back there it was pretty hard to make passes unless you had a really fast car and someone that could follow you all the way up there. It was a good day for everyone at Code 3 and we will see what we can do next week.”
YOU HAVE NO FINISH WORSE THAN 13TH AND 10 TOP-10’S, CAN YOU TALK ABOUT THE STRENGTH OF YOUR TEAM? “I feel like we are starting to hit our stride. At the start of the year we had pretty good speed but weren’t getting the finishes we exactly wanted but not we are getting the speed and the finishes. This is the point in the season where you really want to start hitting your stride because we go on a 15-race stretch here soon so this is a good time to get into a rhythm”
WHAT CAN YOU COMPARE THIS TYPE OF RACING TO? “I would say probably a mix of truck racing and plate racing. It seems it is right in the middle. You have a little of aero and handling problems that you have with truck racing but you still have really good draft. There is also superspeeway racing where you are stuck together tight but have to fight handling some. It is a good mix between them.”
WHY COULD SOMEONE ON THE INSIDE GET PUSH TO TAKE THE LEAD BUT IT SEEMED LIKE IF YOU WERE SECOND ON BACK ON THE INSIDE YOU WERE S.O.L.? “I think depended on how everyone locked up on the restart really. Whoever got the better push was going to get the lead. Once it started getting going you couldn’t do much at all. You were just stuck down there and would get bogged down and couldn’t keep your momentum up and everyone else was just drafting the top lane and if you were on the bottom you were going backwards. On the restarts it was just about who was going to get the better push, that was the biggest thing.”