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XFS: Custer wins, clinches berth in Championship 4

(MRN) In a race that produced a last-lap pass for the win, a record 13 cautions and an unmitigated disaster for favorite son Christopher Bell, Cole Custer moved past Tyler Reddick on the backstretch to win Saturday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 at Texas Motor Speedway.

Custer’s first victory of the season gave the driver of the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford an automatic berth in the Nov. 17 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where Custer dominated last year in winning for the first time in the series.

Reddick led the field to green with two laps left, after the 13th caution, and held the top spot until Custer mounted a strong run off Turn 2 on Lap 200. The cars made side-to-side contact on the backstretch before Reddick surrendered the position, and Custer held on to win by .162 seconds, the third closest finish in an Xfinity Series race at Texas.

With his first victory of the season and the second of his career, Custer is the first of the Round of 8 drivers to clinch a chance at the championship in the season finale.

“I can’t believe it,” Custer said. “I did all I could and drove in deeper than I had all weekend into Turn 1 (on the final lap) trying to get on (Reddick’s) bumper, and it worked out.

“We’re going to Homestead, and I think we have a great chance to win it. It’s just awesome. We haven’t won this year, but we’ve been so close. It’s been frustrating, but we’ve kept going. There’s no better time to do it.”

Bell’s stunning run of ill fortune continued at Texas. Two weeks ago at Kansas Speedway, in the first race in the Round of 8, Justin Allgaier wiped him out in Turn 2 of the first lap. On Saturday, after winning the pole, Bell spun out of control—again in Turn 2 of the first lap.

Though Bell recovered to finish fourth in Stage 1 and fifth in Stage 2, his recovery was short-lived. The coup de grace came on Lap 133 when eventual third-place finisher Austin Cindric pushed up the track slightly, clipped the back-left quarter of Bell’s No. 20 Toyota and sent it sliding into the outside wall.

Resulting suspension damage knocked Bell out of the race in 32nd place at the speedway closest to his Norman, Oklahoma, home.

RACE RESULTS

Fin

St

Car

Driver

Make

Laps

Status

Laps Led

Points

1

3

00

Cole Custer

Ford

200

Running

16

59

2

4

9

Tyler Reddick

Chevrolet

200

Running

54

50

3

8

22

Austin Cindric

Ford

200

Running

0

34

4

10

42

John Hunter Nemechek

Chevrolet

200

Running

6

35

5

5

7

Justin Allgaier

Chevrolet

200

Running

37

45

6

14

19

Brandon Jones

Toyota

200

Running

4

33

7

7

2

Matt Tifft

Chevrolet

200

Running

0

39

8

13

1

Elliott Sadler

Chevrolet

200

Running

0

40

9

12

23

Spencer Gallagher

Chevrolet

200

Running

0

28

10

9

21

Daniel Hemric

Chevrolet

200

Running

42

40

PLAYOFF STANDINGS

Pos.

Driver

Points

Cut Off +/-

Race Wins

Stage Wins

1

Cole Custer

3081

1

1

2

Tyler Reddick

3105

+20

3

Elliott Sadler

3098

+13

4

Daniel Hemric

3097

+12

5

5

Justin Allgaier

3085

-12

6

Matt Tifft

3083

-14

7

Christopher Bell

3063

-34

2

2

8

Austin Cindric

3036

-61

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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