BROOKLYN, Mich. - Cole Custer had the car to beat on Saturday at Michigan International Speedway, but sometimes, that doesn't equate to a victory.
After Custer and Christopher Bell pitted for fuel from the top two positions with 10 and 11 laps left, respectively, Tyler Reddick inherited the lead on Lap 115 of 125 and held on for the win.
Menard, a Monster Energy Series regular, started from the pole position and led a race-high 56 laps in his first Xfinity start of the season. Menard won Stage 1, but settled for a top five in the Team Penske No. 12 Ford. Chase Briscoe finished seventh and Austin Cindric 11th.
Custer, who led 20 laps and wound up 12th, and Bell shared the lead and ran 1-2 for the bulk of the 250-mile race’s final stage. But a mixup kept them on the track during the race’s sixth and final caution and forced them to stop for fuel during green-flag conditions late in the race. Bell pitted on Lap 114, and Custer — the faster of the two over the final stretch — stopped on the next lap.
Bell later explained that this was the first week that his Joe Gibbs Racing No. 20 team used code words to discuss pit-stop strategy. Miscommunication with veteran crew chief Jason Ratcliff led to Bell staying out, and Custer was told by his crew to mimic Bell’s strategy.
The Xfinity Series’ next race is the CircuitCity.com 250, scheduled Sunday, June 16 (5:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at Iowa Speedway.
FORD FINISHING RESULTS
4th - Paul Menard
7th - Chase Briscoe
11th Austin Cindric
12th - Cole Custer
POST RACE QUOTES
PAUL MENARD, No. 12 Menards/Richmond Ford Mustang
“It is kind of interesting how the lines kind of moved around. I could make time on the bottom and you normally can’t here. The car was really fast up front. A little on the loose side. Then you get behind and it is like you have to adjust for it more when you hit traffic. I was just a little tight at the end. The 12 guys were great. Everyone on the Richmond/Menards Ford Mustang was great. We sat P1 and were probably just one adjustment off at the end.”
COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Jacob Companies Ford Mustang
“We had a really fast Mustang. I really wanted to win here for Ford in their backyard and everything. We got the track position and got up front and I think we had the best car here. I don't know how much the 2 was saving there but the strategy just didn’t work out for us. That one kind of stings but I definitely feel like we had a fast car.”
“The strategy just didn’t work out for us. That is Michigan. Half the time it is just pit strategies. Our Jacob Companies Ford Mustang was awesome. I think we brought the fastest car here, it just didn’t work out in the end. We will go on to the next one. It is good we have fast cars.”
CHASE BRISCOE, No. 98 Nutri Chomps / Blair’s Farm & Fleet Ford Mustang
“We were really loose all day long. We were going to play the fuel strategy card and we were going to be alright I think. Honestly, after that spin was the best the car was all day. At the end we were two or three-tenths better than the leader. Drove to fifth or sixth from the back and I feel like I had a lot more but I just got stuck in traffic and racing guys. A couple guys, I don't know, they were just racing dumb in my opinion and we ended up racing each other so hard that we cost each other six seconds on the race track. Instead of running second or third we ran seventh instead. Overall I thought we made our car better all day which is always good. We just have to start the race better.”
“Definitely it was aggressive on the restart. This place is so narrow. It is hard to do anything regardless. Obviously the restarts were pretty intense but we just would get single file and it seems like you have to run that middle and you get suckered into going to the bottom and get freight trained. If you get a run on a guy and don't clear him you end up losing two or three spots. It is part of racing here and you know that going into it but it doesn't make it any more fun.”