By: Sarah Handy, Staff Writer
One week after winning his first NASCAR Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway, Cole Custer was left with a disappointing result at Texas Motor Speedway.
Custer looked poised to capture a solid finish at the 1.5-mile speedway on Sunday after starting the 334-lap event in the 19th position and making his way forward in the running order.
The Stewart-Haas Racing rookie driver was able to wheel his No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang to a 13th place finish in stage one and an 18th place finish in stage two.
Than stage three of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 500 would change everything.
Following the restart on lap 218 of 334, race leader Ryan Blaney got loose in Turn 4, which caused the field behind him to stack up. Aric Almirola ended up clipping Kyle Busch which in turn caused Busch to slide into the rear of his teammate Martin Truex Jr.
Truex’s No. 19 Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing then slammed into the outside wall on the front stretch of Texas Motor Speedway as Busch’s No. 18 Toyota ended up in the infield grass.
These turn of events set off the ultimate accordion of wrecked race cars, 12 cars involved in all, one of those 12 included Custer.
“We just [kind of] got caught up in it, they started wrecking in the front. I couldn’t really see what happened, I was on the brakes as hard as I could but couldn’t miss it,” said Custer. “I feel bad and I feel like we were getting a hold of our HaasTooling.com Mustang. We fired off the race pretty decent and we were [just] trying to keep up with the track there at the end and I think we got it pretty decent. We just didn’t really get to show anything for it.”
Unfortunately, Custer was left with a disappointing 39th place finish. In his last three NCS starts, he hadn’t finished worse than 17th leading into today.
Custer agreed post-race that it was just a chain reaction.
“Yeah, I mean it’s always one of the most humbling sports you can be a part of — winning last week and part of a wreck this week,” expressed Custer. “I was on the brakes as hard as I could and then the 19, I think, came down from hitting the wall. It’s just one of those things where you couldn’t go anywhere. It felt bad. I thought we were getting our Haas Automation Mustang better as the day went and was trying to keep up with the racetrack but didn’t really have much to show for it. I thought we would have ended up pretty good right there.”
Next up, the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Kansas Speedway for Thursday evening’s Super Start Batteries 400 presented by O’Reilly Auto Parts.
The event will mark Custer’s first NCS start at the track, but he has made four NASCAR Xfinity Series starts there with a best finish of 11th coming last season. He has also made one lone NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start at Kansas in 2016, an event where he finished seventh.