DOVER, DE. - In his 100th NASCAR Xfinity Series start, Cole Custer conquered the Monster Mile.
Custer held off a hungry field of playoff contenders on a restart with seven laps to go and pulled away from Justin Allgaier to win the Drive Sober 200 at Dover International Speedway on Saturday afternoon.
Custer, who claimed the victory as Dover celebrates its 50th anniversary, is the fifth Xfinity Series driver to win in their 100th start.
Ford teammates Austin Cindric (3rd) and Chase Briscoe (5th) made it another good day for Mustang, with all three cars in the top-five and all three advancing on to the next round of the Xfinity Series playoffs, the Round of 8.
For Briscoe, however, the day was bittersweet after leading 71 of the 200 race laps and being poised early to take home the coveted Monster trophy. In all, Ford drivers led 131 of 200 laps on the day.
FORD FINISHING RESULTS
1st - Cole Custer
3rd - Austin Cindric
5th - Chase Briscoe
POST RACE PRESS CONFERENCE
COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Production Alliance Group Ford Mustang
CAN YOU WALK US THROUGH YOUR FEELING WHEN THAT CAUTION CAME OUT AND YOU WERE UP FRONT PLAYING THE STRATEGY THAT CYCLED YOU TO THE LEAD? “I thought it was good. You don't know until everybody cycles around but I knew we were probably in a good spot staying out there. It was a great pit call by Mike to stay out. It is all about track position here. Whatever you can do on strategy and pit stops to get track position, it is what you need to do.”
JUSTIN (HALEY) SAID THAT IF YOU GUYS WERE ON EVEN TIRES HE FELT HE MIGHT HAVE BEEN JUST AS GOOD IF NOT BETTER THAN YOU. DO YOU THINK IF YOU WERE ON EVEN TIRES YOU COULD HAVE HELD HIM OFF? “It is a toss-up. I think we were fairly equal on the short run but on the long run we would definitely catch him. It is hard to say but I definitely think clean air is king here.”
YOU HAD ALREADY CLINCHED A SPOT IN THE NEXT ROUND, WHAT DOES THE WIN MEAN BEYOND THE PLAYOFF POINTS YOU EARNED? “I think it is confidence. Going into Kansas and Texas, we can just go in there and know that we are firing on all cylinders and we can go in there and win. It is having confidence on the first lap you hit the track and we can now go in there next round and be one to fight with.”
WITH EVERY WIN, DO YOU GET MORE AND MORE ANXIOUS TO KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING NEXT YEAR? “I really just live in the moment. It is what it is. You win as many races as you can and whatever happens, happens. Usually it fixes itself.”
YOU SAID YOU WERE ITCHING TO GET THIS GOLD TROPHY. WHAT WILL HAPPEN WITH IT NOW? “It will go in my living room or something. I have wanted to win this trophy and this race for such a long time. We got really close here a couple times in a truck and a couple times in the Xfinity car. To finally win is pretty huge. It is a trophy everyone wants and a track everyone wants to win at. It is pretty huge.”
THIS WAS YOUR 100TH XFINITY SERIES START. HOW DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU HAVE PROGRESSED IN THAT TIME? “It has been huge. I think if you look at the progression of me and of our team also, when we started it was a new team and we had really fast cars, it was just a matter of gaining experience for both me and the team. Mike coming on this year was huge to bring us even more experience. It has been huge for sure.”
MIKE SHIPLETT, CREW CHIEF, No. 00 Ford Mustang
YOU WORKED WITH A LOT OF DRIVERS AND COLE HAD SOME EXPERIENCE COMING IN. HOW HAS HE PROGRESSED AND WHAT HAVE YOU TRIED TO REFINE WITH HIM THIS YEAR? “Cole is a very good driver. Very exceptional. Very good at what he does. It is just fine tuning things and getting 100-percent all of the time. That is what we are looking for. From restarts to long run speed and short run speed, we keep working on everything and making it just a little bit better.”
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 MoneyLion Ford Mustang
“We feel like at all three races in the round of 12 we were the best car and the worst finish was 3rd, so I am really proud of this MoneyLion Mustang team. I don't think we had a car capable of winning today. In clean we could hold our own but once we got behind we were probably a third place car and that is where we finished. I am proud of that effort and proud of the recovery. We will keep trying to bring this momentum to the next round.”
CHASE BRISCOE, No. 98 Ford Performance Mustang
“It is encouraging how fast of a car we had but that is two weeks in a row I feel like we had the best race car and didn’t get the win. There are so many circumstances that go into winning these races and one little thing that you don't catch at the right time just kills you. It is really good that we are moving on to the next round of the playoffs but at the same time if we hadn’t had to go to the back we probably would have had seven points going into the next round and that would have been big. It is frustrating to have a winning race car and not win with it but it is nice that we have had really fast Mustangs and that is encouraging going into the next round. Hopefully we can have just as fast race cars but seal the deal.”