AVONDALE, Ariz. - Cole Custer advanced to the Championship 4 in the NASCAR XFINITY Series for the second straight season with a second-place finish in Saturday’s race at ISM Raceway.
Custer will be joined in the finale by race winner Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell.
Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe were looking for a victory to automatically advance and keep their title hopes alive, but it wasn’t meant to be. Both driver saved a set of tires for the end of the race, but the caution they were hoping for never came and resulted in Cindric finishing sixth and Briscoe eighth.
Briscoe found himself in the lead during the final stage, leading a stretch of 14 laps, but Allgaier was on fresher tires and was able to reel him in and pass for the lead with 66 laps remaining. Custer made a late charge to catch him, but ran out of time.
The Ford EcoBoost 300 is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Ford Finishing Order:
2nd – Cole Custer
6th – Austin Cindric
8th – Chase Briscoe
POST RACE QUOTES
COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang
WHAT WAS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN YOU AND THE 7? “I kind of struggled with the brake pedal all day. I was just saving my brakes until like 15 to go and I just let it have it there at the end. I got to close in, but I didn’t quite have enough. Our Haas Automation Mustang, I mean that was probably the best we’ve been at Phoenix so far, but we just kind of struggled trying to get the whole run together.”
THOUGHTS ON GOING TO HOMESTEAD WITH A CHANCE TO WIN THE TITLE? “I think we can go there and win. There’s no reason why we can’t. Last year we led the most laps and this year we’re probably better, so I think we can go there and really compete for a championship.”
CHASE BRISCOE, No. 98 Ford Performance Ford Mustang
“Truthfully, I’m just thinking back to the Kansas deal. I hate to keep bringing it up, but I feel like we shouldn’t have even been in this situation. That’s part of it, obviously. It happened for a reason. I don’t know what that reason is right now, but I feel like God has a plan. I don’t know what it is and don’t understand it right now, but hopefully I can learn something from it. I feel like we definitely deserve to be there, but at the same time Justin was really good too. Going into this final round we knew that Kansas was our best opportunity, Texas was our second-best and Phoenix more than likely was gonna be a struggle just because the 7 was so good here. We didn’t capitalize. We put ourselves in the position to, but just didn’t get the job done there at the end. It didn’t go our way. We needed a caution and it didn’t come and that’s kind of how this round went for us, so that’s part of it. I feel like we have a really good car that can go win Homestead next week. Obviously, it doesn’t do anything for us championship-wise, but at least it will maybe prove a point. I’m just thankful that Ford has believed in me these 32 races. Obviously, I have one race left to prove that I need to be here and deserve to be here next year, so that’s what we’re gonna try to go do.”
THE CONTACT WITH THE 7 WAS THAT FAIR GAME? “Yeah. We were both just racing hard. I didn’t do a very good job when I had the lead of not making mistakes. I was probably watching my mirror too much. I knew it was gonna be an uphill battle trying to hold him off just because he was so good as it was and with us at a tire disadvantage it was gonna be even harder. I was all for it. I don’t think either of us did anything dirty. We were just racing hard. We both knew what was on the line and obviously he did a really good job today.”
WAS THE PLAN TO TRY AND HOLD THEM OFF OR WERE YOU PLAYING FOR A CAUTION AT THE END TO TAKE ON NEW TIRES? “First, I thought that if it went green the whole way, if those guys got mired back in traffic I would be all right because I didn’t feel like 19 laps worse was gonna be that bad, and it wasn’t that bad until the last probably 20-30 laps, and then I just tanked completely. Once I got down to 25-30 to go I was praying for a caution, but it obviously didn’t come out and that’s just part of it.”
AUSTIN CINDRIC, No. 22 Discount Tire Ford Mustang
WHAT WAS MISSING TODAY FOR YOU? “The first stage didn’t quite go as planned. We probably started out a little too free and craziness ensued around us, but that’s playoff racing. That’s why everyone shows up here. Thanks to Discount Tire and everybody. Obviously, my biggest fall on the day was speeding on pit road after an awesome pit stop by my guys. That’s the second time I’ve ever done that, so poor timing on my end, but that’s racing and how it goes. We can’t hang our heads too low. We’ve got a lot to be proud of.”
THOUGHTS ON THIS PLAYOFF FORMAT AND HOW ONE MISTAKE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE? “It’s more difficult when you make it difficult on yourself. I think this round was definitely not as strong in the execution department probably between the steering wheel and the head rest than the round before, so definitely stuff to learn, but very, very strong showing for our team.”
COLE CUSTER PRESS CONFERENCE
YOU CLINCHED YOUR CHAMPIONSHIP 4 SPOT AFTER STAGE 2. DID THAT MAKE THE FINAL STAGE ANY LESS STRESSFUL? “I didn’t know that we clinched in the second stage, so I guess not. I knew we just had to kind of have a solid day and that’s kind of what we did. I think that’s the best we’ve run at Phoenix in a long time. I was happy with our day it’s just a matter of we just need a little bit more. I’m looking forward to Homestead. We’ve been really fast there the last two years and it’s just a matter of trying to put the whole race together and I think we know how to do that, it’s just a matter of us executing it.”
HOW HAS IT BEEN TO GO THROUGH A WHOLE YEAR TO GET BACK TO THIS POINT? “That means a lot. As race car drivers we do have a good idea of how to reset and focus on the next week, so I think throughout the season you’re just worrying about what’s going on, but at the same time when it comes down to the playoffs and you get closer and closer to Miami you kind of start to remember what it was like being at the banquet last year finishing second and just watching Tyler drive away from me on the wall there at the end of the race, so I think we want to go back there and win.”
DRIVERS NEVER FORGET, RIGHT. “You’re always gonna remember it, but we have a good idea how to focus on the next weekend. We can forget about it probably whenever we want to, but it’s just a matter of you’re gonna remember it the rest of your life for sure whenever it comes up.”
DOES NEXT WEEK IMPACT YOUR 2020 PLANS WIN OR LOSE? “Not that I know of. I’m not sure what we’re doing yet, so we’ll see. Hopefully, we have something soon. Right now, we have a really big week ahead going to Homestead and trying to win a championship, so we’ll see what happens.”
HAVE YOU TALKED ABOUT THE CONCERN OF YOUR COMPETITION AT HOMESTEAD? “Honestly, you can’t really think about it that way. I think we’ve been extremely fast the last couple years there and I think Tyler probably did run the wall a little bit better than I did at the end of the race and they probably set their car up a little bit better to run the wall, so I think going there this time we’re gonna think a little bit more about that, but at the same time I think we’ve just got to go out there and do what we’ve done the last two years and go there with a full focus and intensity. There’s nobody who is going to be faster than us, it’s just who can execute the better race.”
DO YOU HAVE A NEW CAR? “We have a car, I’m sure, that’s really good. Nowadays they kind of just knock the cars out. They’re not really where one is a lot better than the other. You kind of have a short track car or an intermediate car, but you really don’t. All of our cars are good. I don’t really worry about it.”
SO YOU AND TYLER DON’T HATE EACH OTHER? “We already took a picture facing off with each other with Claire B., so I think it’s all good.”
ANY HELP FROM THE CUP SIDE TO HELP YOU FOR HOMESTEAD? “I think when we look at all our teams it’s hard to compare everything, but you can compare tire data and the air pressures and stuff like that, and there’s philosophies that you kind of have going on, but at the same time there’s a lot of stuff that’s different. I wouldn’t say we really base a ton off our Cup teams. We try and just get a little bit of help here and there.”
HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT JUSTIN ALLGAIER IN THE FINAL? “I think everybody in our series sees Justin as kind of a bulldog. He’s really good on restarts and he’s gonna make the most of his car and be really aggressive. They’ve probably struggled a little bit more for speed than our teams probably have at the mile-and-a-halves, so we’ll see if they can make their cars a little better coming to Homestead, but obviously it’s anybody’s game. You just have to put it together for one race, so we’ll see.”
THOUGHTS ON THE FINAL STAGE? “I didn’t know we were locked in after stage two. I didn’t get that memo. I knew we needed a solid day and that’s what we did. I knew I had to save my brakes anyway that last stage, so I don’t really know if that made a difference.”