COLE CUSTER WINS FIRST NASCAR XFINITY SERIES CHAMPIONSHIP
- The third time was the charm for Cole Custer, who won his first series championship after finished second in his previous two attempts.
- This marks the seventh NXS championship for Ford and second in the last four years after Austin Cindric won in 2020.
- Ford’s other champions include: Greg Biffle (2002), Carl Edwards (2007), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011-12), and Chris Buescher (2015).
- This marks the second time Stewart-Haas has won an NXS championship with Ford after Custer delivered the owner’s title in 2018.
- This continues a streak that has seen Mustang win a driver’s or owner’s championship in all but three seasons since coming to the series full-time in 2011.
FORD FINISHING RESULTS
1st – Cole Custer
4th – Riley Herbst
15th – Brett Moffitt
18th – Ryan Sieg
27th – Joey Gase
30th – Timmy Hill
31st – Joe Graf Jr.
36th – JJ Yeley
38th – Kyle Sieg
COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang – CHAMPIONSHIP VICTORY LANE INTERVIEWS:
THREE-WIDE OFF OF TURN ONE ON THE WHITE FLAG LAP AND YOU WON IT. WHAT WERE YOU THINKING WHEN IT LOOKED LIKE THE RESTART WASN’T GOING TO GO YOUR WAY? “I thought it was over. I mean, I went from first to third and I was able to shift the car all night and the Doug Yates horsepower worked out and pulled me off the corner. I can’t believe we won that thing after going back to third on that restart, but I can’t say enough about these guys. I mean, we started the year off and it was a struggle and we kind of had to dig deep with each other and really talk about how to get better. To see how much this group has grown through the year and to be a part of something, I knew I wanted to work with JT. I knew that he was the guy that could make it happen and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else. I just can’t thank Gene Haas enough. He’s given me opportunities and I wouldn’t be here without him. I can’t thank him enough, and Ford Performance, Haas Automation, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s awesome to bring one back to Stewart-Haas right now. Man, I’m gonna enjoy this. I’ve been waiting to hear Wayne on the radio for a few times now, so I’m pumped.”
WHAT DID YOU HAVE TO PROVE PERSONALLY WITH COMING BACK TO XFINITY IN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP RUN? “You get knocked down a little bit and you just want to prove that you can go out there and do it. I think these guys have just really always believed in me all year and I just can’t thank them enough for giving me really fast race cars and still believing in me when things weren’t going great.”
HOW ABOUT THAT FINISH? “That was crazy. Having it three-wide there at the end. I can’t believe we went from third to first there when we dropped back. Man, it was such a fast car. JT and all the guys did such a great job. I can’t thank everybody at the team. When things weren’t going good the last few years and them still believing in me coming back, I just can’t thank everybody enough. It’s a very proud moment winning this championship with these guys. I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.”
WHAT ABOUT THAT FINAL RESTART WITH ALL FOUR CONTENDERS BATTLING? “I thought I lost it on the frontstretch. I thought it was over, but just how it worked out I was able to downshift it pulling up off the corner and get a good angle going into three and I can’t believe it all worked out. I wouldn’t have it any other way. We’ve been so close here a few times and to have it all work out is just amazing.”
YOU CAME BACK TO THE XFINITY SERIES TO RUN FOR A CHAMPIONSHIP AND YOU’VE DONE IT. “It means the world. Being so close a couple times at this and how the last few years have gone, I mean, these guys still believe in me and have given me really fast race cars and just digging all year. We did such a great job just getting better and better every week. These guys just brought a rocket ship tonight and I’m so proud of everybody.”
MARK RUSHBROOK, Global Director, Ford Performance Motorsports
IT’S BEEN A GOOD WEEKEND FOR FORD. YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE PAST TWO NIGHTS? “It’s been a fantastic weekend so far. It all comes down to this, a long season of racing across all three series and have the championship weekend here. We came in with one driver in each and so far it’s worked out pretty well. Great teams, great drivers, great racing and I’m so proud of what we have in terms of those teams, those drivers to come here and battle, especially the racing tonight. Listening to Justin and John Hunter about how clean the racing was and the respect that was out there and it was a joy to watch.”
ANTICIPATION FOR TOMORROW NIGHT? “I’m a little nervous now that you asked me, but what Team Penske has done through these playoffs and Ryan Blaney and the team, what they’ve done, especially at Homestead-Miami and Martinsville and the strength that they’re carrying there’s certainly a lot of optimism, but we know it’s a long race. We know there’s three other great playoff drivers in there and we’re just looking forward to a good race.”
SHR HAS HAD A TOUGH SEASON IN CUP, BUT NOW THEY HAVE THIS IN XFINITY. HOW SHOULD THOSE FANS FEEL AFTER TONIGHT? “The great thing about Stewart-Haas is they are a team full of racers. Everybody in that shop wants to win. Every team goes through ups and downs, for sure, and different phases in it, but what has been built at Stewart-Haas – when they came to Ford they were only a Cup team in 2017, and with the vision of Joe Custer and the leadership there to build the Xfinity program and to have the strength that they have there, especially watching Riley run some really strong races through the latter part of the season, it’s a strong program. They’ve got good people there, good racers there, and Cole’s got great experience and he dug pretty deep tonight. He got up on the wheel and got it done, so that’s gonna be a point of pride, I think, for the entire shop at Stewart-Haas and help them through this process.”
RILEY HAS BEEN TURNING IN ON LATELY AND AM RACING IS GROWING. WHERE IS FORD AT WITH ALL OF THIS YOUNG TALENT COMING UP? “It’s a good time for the sport, for sure, and, like you said, the strength inside Stewart-Haas with Riley winning in Vegas a few weeks ago and having several strong weeks since then, I think, is a good sign for the Stewart-Haas Xfinity program and we’re excited with what AM Racing is building – the program that they’ve run this year and the plans for next year and seeing all of that come together and, really, their commitment to build that program. We’re proud to be a technical partner with them to help them with that success.”
I SHOULD CLARIFY, THE PARTNERSHIP SHR HAS WITH THEM. HOW IS THAT LOOKING SO FAR AND WHAT WILL IT LOOK LIKE IN 2024? “An efficient way to go racing, especially in Xfinity, is to have one strong team and to have technical partners off of that and, again, the effort that’s been put into the Stewart-Haas Xfinity program, they’re commitment to it and also commitment to growing it through that kind of extension, it works really well.”
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