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JUL 15, 2019 | FORD PERFORMANCE STAFF

Custer Wins Alsco 300

Alsco 300

SPARTA, Ky. - Christopher Bell had the dominant car in the daytime, but when the sun set Friday at Kentucky Speedway, Cole Custer’s Mustang came to life, cruising to a dominating third win in the last six races of NASCAR Xfinity Series competition.

Under the lights at the end of a 104-lap green-flag run to the conclusion of the Alsco 300, Custer’s No. 00 Mustang crossed the finish line 1.651 seconds ahead of Bell’s No. 20 Toyota. Custer had taken the lead from Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Chase Briscoe on Lap 111 of 200 and held it the rest of the way, save for three laps during a cycle of green-flag pit stops midway through the final run.

The victory was the seventh of Custer’s career, it was in doubt only when Custer pitted on Lap 151, three laps after Bell had come to pit road for fuel and tires. In the interim, on fresh rubber, Bell had cut Custer’s lead from three seconds to a half-second, but Bell never got close enough to attempt a pass for the lead.

Chase Briscoe finished fifth in the No. 98 Ford, the last car on the lead lap. 

Austin Cindric started on the pole and won the opening stage before spinning early in stage 2, hitting the wall and causing significant rear end damage. The 22 Mustang was able to continue running, but came home 14th.

The NASCAR Xfinity Series continues next Saturday, July 20th from New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

FORD FINISHING RESULTS
1st - Cole Custer
5th - Chase Briscoe
14th - Austin Cindric

WINNING TEAM PRESS CONFERENCE

COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang
DOES ANYTHING FROM KENTUCKY TRANSLATE TO HOMESTEAD?
“Yeah, it is a mile and a half and aero comes into play and stuff like that. But it is a lot different because it is a repaved race track and that is a really worn out race track so you will be fighting different things but there are things that we can take to Homestead.”

IS YOUR CONFIDENCE GROWING WITH EACH WIN? “Yeah, for sure. It just comes with experience and doing it more and more. You build that experience and that confidence. It is just something that comes with time I guess and you have to have the car to do it. We had a great car tonight. I just can’t thank all my guys enough.”

MIKE SHIPLETT, crew chief, No. 00 Ford Mustang
CAN YOU SENSE COLE’S MATURITY AND GROWING CONFIDENCE?
“I think every time he gets in the race car he just gets a little bit better just in the way he communicates with us and the way he keeps focusing forward and driving. He is doing a great job. I am proud of him.”

COLE CUSTER CONTINUED
YOU’VE TALKED ABOUT GETTING BETTER AS A RACE GOES ON, THAT WAS DEFINITELY ON DISPLAY TONIGHT:
“I think tonight was kind of the extreme of that because the track was a lot different this year. I almost had to relearn it a little bit and got better and better as the race went on and I got more comfortable with it. I think the track changed a lot and Mike did a good job keeping up with that and knowing what was going to happen.”

MIKE SHIPLETT CONTINUED
“You know the biggest thing was that we practiced all during the day and then we started a race an hour after we practiced and we knew the sun would go down the track would be in the shade and the lights would come on. When that happens, it really changes a race track. Here at Kentucky Speedway with the PJ1 it really changed it but some of the characteristics of hte past showed back up again and we kept building on that through the end of the race.”

AND HOW DO YOU SEE HIM PROGRESS WITH LOOKING FORWARD AND BEING STRONGER AT THE END OF THE RACE WHICH IS WHAT YOU NEED TO HAVE FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP RUN? “The biggest thing we talk about, and we talk about a lot of stuff before the race, but we explain to him that the car is going to do something different than it had done in practice for the first 45 laps. Then the next 40 laps will be totally different from that. Then the last 110 laps the car is going to be where we need it. That is just getting through the first part of the race is the key. That is where Cole has really accelerated his understanding of what he needs to do to get to the end of the race. It is really nice to win every stage and win the race but the ultimate goal is to win the race.”

SO YOU HAVE BEEN WORKING WITH HIM MORE ON THE BEGINNING OF THE RACE THAN THE LATTER PARTS OF THE RACE? “We have been working with him through the whole race. It isn’t just one thing. Everything ramps up. If you can start at 80% and build to 90% and then 100% on the last stage of the race, that is when you are going to excel. If you are giving 110% at the beginning of the race, you are going to be worn out at the end of the race. It is just building up through the end of the race.”

COLE CUSTER CONTINUED
THERE WAS A LEARNING CURVE AT THE BEGINNING OF THE YEAR GETTING USED TO WORKING WITH EACH OTHER. WHAT CAN WE EXPECT FROM YOU GUYS THE REST OF THE WAY? WHAT IS THIS 00 TEAM REALLY CAPABLE OF?
“I mean honestly this weekend showed what we can do. Even in practice we felt like we were just a tick off the 20 but made adjustments to make our car better in the race and had smart adjustments throughout the race. It is a matter of getting better and better throughout the year and I think we can continue to make our car capable of winning. I think we can compete for wins wherever we go if we stay consistent and do our homework every week.”

MIKE SHIPLETT CONTINUED
DO YOU THINK YOU ARE THE CHAMPIONSHIP FAVORITE RIGHT NOW?
“I don't think anyone is the favorite at this point. We still have a handful of races until the regular season ends and then we have the playoff races. You have to look at each race as an opportunity to gain points. We don't look at Homestead. We still have 12 or 15 races to go before then.”

COLE CUSTER CONTINUED
HOW BIG A FACTOR WAS CLEAN AIR TONIGHT? IF BELL WOULD HAVE GOT AROUND YOU, WOULD YOU HAVE BEEN ABLE TO CATCH HIM?
“It is hard to say. At that point I thought I would. He was close enough to us in lap time that I thought if he got the lead at that point it would have been really hard to get back by him. Dirty air is always a little bit of a factor here. I don't know if the PJ1 really made it better or worse tonight. It may have made it a little better. Clean air is definitely always key.”