NASCAR Xfinity Series: Cole Custer passes go, collects $100,000 at Richmond

NASCAR Xfinity Series: Cole Custer passes go, collects $100,000 at Richmond
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RICHMOND, Va.—Mother Nature held off the rain as Cole Custer held off the field at Richmond Raceway on Friday night. 
Custer collected his second win of 2019—and a check for $100,000 through the Dash4Cash program in the process.
The driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford led 122 of 250 and checked out by 2.639-seconds over Austin Cindric to win the Toyota Care 250.  
“Thank you guys, first short track win,” Custer said. “Been waiting for that for a long time. Good car, great changes.”
Justin Allgaier, Tyler Reddick, Ryan Sieg, Zane Smith, John Hunter Nemechek, Chase Briscoe, Riley Herbst and Justin Haley rounded out the top 10. 
Herbst started from the pole but the rookie’s time at the front was short-lived. Custer took the lead on Lap 2—his first of three times at the point. The stage was slowed by Mason Diaz’s wreck in Turn 2 on Lap 64. Allgaier grabbed the lead on the Lap 71 restart and held on for the Stage 1 win. Christopher Bell finished second followed by Custer, Noah Gragson, Nemechek, Reddick, Cindric, Smith, Briscoe and Brandon Jones.
Allgaier led the field to green on Lap 82. NASCAR called the third caution for fluid after Jeremy Clements' engine failed on Lap 126. Custer grabbed the lead on the restart. His 84-lap run was first stalled by an incident between Gragson and Bell in Turn 3 on Lap 142. Bell, who was going for his third consecutive win at the Action Track, dropped to 23rd after the No. 20 team was forced to make multiple repairs.  
The field pitted and Custer won the race off of pit road—and the second stage with Cindric, Nemechek, Smith, Sieg, Gragson, Briscoe, Reddick, Jones and Haley in tow on Lap 150. Custer led the field to green for the start of the final segment on Lap 161. Fifteen laps later, Jones' engine blew up. He finished 33rd. 
Bell recovered to third by Lap 180. Custer remained in command of the race through the sixth caution when Nemechek punted David Starr on the front stretch on Lap 212. The final caution was triggered by contact between Kaz Grala and Gragson in Turn 2 on Lap 220. Gray Gaulding and Haley also sustained damage in the melee. 
Cindric suggested the No. 22 Team Penske crew grab popcorn as he was preparing for “the best restart of my life.” Sure enough, Cindric took the lead from Custer on Lap 225. But with $100,000 on the line, the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford regained the point with 20 laps to go. 
“I just bought a house, so I might put it towards that a little bit,” Custer said. “I have no idea. We will find out.”
Custer scored his fourth-career Xfinity Series victory in 79 starts—and his first at Richmond Raceway.
 “I tried something different on that last restart and it didn’t work out,” Custer said. “It just stacked everybody up so much and I got hit in the back and it spun the tires. 
“We just had a great car. When I got the restarts right, it was good. I don't know. It is a great race for us. Our first short-track win and second win of the year. It means a ton.”
Reddick leads the Xfinity Series standings by 24 points over Bell, who finished 16th. Reddick scored his fifth top-five finish of the season despite losing his power steering in the second half of the race.
“I just had to man up and drive it,” Reddick said. “It drove better without power steering than with it.” 

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