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Saturday May 21st, 2022 7:53AM

Cole Custer cops overtime Xfinity victory at Fontana

By Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service
  Contact Editor

Californian Cole Custer was the only former Auto Club Speedway winner in the field for Saturday’s Production Alliance 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race in Fontana, California.

Three overtimes, 12 cautions and more than three hours of official race time later, Custer was still the only former winner in the Fontana field, having beaten runner-up Noah Gragson to the finish line by .565 seconds.

It was a long day’s journey into night, a race that started in mid-afternoon and unexpectedly ended under the lights in temperatures that dropped appreciably between the start and the finish. The three overtimes extended the event 15 laps beyond its scheduled distance of 150 circuits at the 2-mile track.

But Custer was the clear class of the field, leading 80 of the 165 laps and twice charging like a rocket from the outside of the fourth row to the lead after slower-than-usual late pit stops.

He got his second victory at Fontana in a No. 07 Ford that was a partnership entry between Stewart-Haas Racing and Bobby Dotter-owned SS Green Light Racing.

Custer was moonlighting — literally, as it turned out — from his Sunday ride in the No. 41 SHR Ford Mustang, which he’ll be racing in the WISE Power 400.

“Man, it was just an awesome car,” Custer said. “That thing was just a rocket ship all day. I can’t thank Bobby Dotter enough — everybody that was involved on this car.

“It was unbelievable how fast we were… It’s awesome to win at home — can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Gragson was competitive all day, leading 25 laps. Despite sliding though his pit stall during a pit stop under the eighth caution on lap 125, he surged back to the front from 14th, retaking the top spot on the second lap after a restart on lap 129.

Five laps later, however, Custer regained the lead and held it for all but one of the last 31 laps, through four more cautions and three overtime restarts.

“I felt like the car was really close all day, just struggled with the cloud cover and the temperature change — too loose or too tight,” Gragson said. “Hats off to all the guys on the 07 car and Cole Custer. He was really fast today.”

Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, ran third in his first Xfinity Series start since a one-off in 2016. Josh Berry was fourth, as JR Motorsports drivers claimed four of the top eight finishing positions, with Gragson second, Sam Mayer sixth and Justin Allgaier eighth.

Anthony Alfredo parlayed tire strategy into a fifth place finish. Pole winner A.J. Allmendinger recovered from an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel to come home seventh. Riley Herbst and Tucker, Georgia’s Ryan Sieg were ninth and 10th, respectively.

NASCAR Xfinity Series
Auto Club Speedway – Fontana, CA
Production Alliance Group 300 – February 26, 2022

1. (2) Cole Custer(i), Ford, 165.
2. (6) Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 165.
3. (4) Trevor Bayne, Toyota, 165.
4. (11) Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 165.
5. (28) Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 165.
6. (13) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 165.
7. (1) A.J. Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 165.
8. (20) Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 165.
9. (16) Riley Herbst, Ford, 165.
10. (14) Ryan Sieg, Ford, 165.
11. (30) Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 165.
12. (5) Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 165.
13. (12) Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 165.
14. (21) Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 165.
15. (18) Joe Graf, Jr., Ford, 165.
16. (22) Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 165.
17. (10) Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 165.
18. (38) Kyle Sieg, Ford, 165.
19. (17) Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 165.
20. (36) Joey Gase, Toyota, 165.
21. (34) Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 165.
22. (24) J.J. Yeley, Toyota, 165.
23. (25) Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 165.
24. (19) Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 165.
25. (29) Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, 163.
26. (31) Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 163.
27. (8) Austin Hill #, Chevrolet, 162.
28. (33) Mason Massey, Chevrolet, 162.
29. (37) Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 161.
30. (23) Stefan Parsons, Chevrolet, Accident, 159.
31. (27) Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 158.
32. (9) Sheldon Creed #, Chevrolet, Accident, 156.
33. (3) Brandon Jones, Toyota, Accident, 155.
34. (26) Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 154.
35. (32) Ryan Vargas, Chevrolet, Accident, 150.
36. (35) Jesse Iwuji #, Chevrolet, 131.
37. (15) Jade Buford, Chevrolet, Accident, 123.
38. (7) Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Engine, 6.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 105.682 mph.

Time of Race: 3 Hrs, 5 Mins, 5 Secs. Margin of Victory: .565 Seconds.

Caution Flags: 12 for 58 laps.

Lead Changes: 19 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders: A. Allmendinger 1-13;T. Bayne 14-23;N. Gragson 24;T. Bayne 25-38;D. Hemric 39-48;C. Custer(i) 49-59;N. Gragson 60;C. Custer(i) 61-72;J. Allgaier 73;B. Jones 74-76;C. Custer(i) 77-103;N. Gragson 104;J. Allgaier 105-108;N. Gragson 109-124;T. Gibbs 125-127;J. Allgaier 128-129;N. Gragson 130-134;C. Custer(i) 135-143;N. Gragson 144;C. Custer(i) 145-165.

Leaders Summary: (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led) Cole Custer(i) 5 times for 80 laps; Noah Gragson 6 times for 25 laps; Trevor Bayne 2 times for 24 laps; A.J. Allmendinger 1 time for 13 laps; Daniel Hemric 1 time for 10 laps; Justin Allgaier 3 times for 7 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 3 laps; Ty Gibbs 1 time for 3 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,07,7,9,54,16,8,39,11,1

Stage #2 Top Ten: 07,19,7,9,54,11,16,1,8,98

Playoff Standings: 1. Austin Hill – 57 (1 Win); 2. A.J. Allmendinger – 90; 3. Noah Gragson – 89; 4. Justin Allgaier – 87; 5. Riley Herbst – 71; 6. Ryan Sieg – 71; 7. Ty Gibbs – 71; 8. Josh Berry – 63; 9. Anthony Alfredo – 62; 10. Daniel Hemric – 61; 11. Brandon Brown – 60; 12. Sam Mayer – 51.

(i) Ineligible for driver points in this series

  • Associated Categories: Sports, NASCAR News, Xfinity Series
  • Associated Tags: nascar, motorsports, xfinity series, Auto Racing, Stock Car, Asphalt, Motorsports Live On WDUN
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