Race Weekend Central

Cole Custer wins Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway, denying Busch his 200th win

A caution, a slow pit stop, and a pit road penalty changed the entire complexion of the Xfinity Series race at Auto Club Speedway. When the checkered flag flew, Cole Custer won the Production Alliance Group 300. It is his first victory this season, his third career Xfinity Series victory, and the first Xfinity Series win for Stewart-Haas Racing this season.

Custer led 29 of the 150 laps and he delivered Ford its first Xfinity Series victory this season. He is the third Xfinity Series regular to win a race this season, joining Michael Annett and Christopher Bell.

Until that aforementioned series of events, the Production Alliance Group 300 was the Kyle Busch show. Busch appeared to be well on his way to earning his 200th NASCAR national series race, winning the first two stages and leading a total of 98 laps. The only two cautions during the first two stages were the stage breaks.

The excitement in the Production Alliance Group 300 ramped up beginning on lap 84 when John Hunter Nemechek tried to drive underneath Austin Cindric. Unfortunately, Ryan Sieg had nosed his No. 39 Chevrolet into Nemechek’s desired groove. As a result, Nemechek made contact with Cindric, and an accident ensued, which ended the day for Nemechek.

Following the restart, Busch retained the lead and he began to pull away from the field.

As the laps wound down, the top drivers pushed their cars to the limit to try and gain positions and ultimately catch Busch.

Polesitter Tyler Reddick and Cindric both pushed their respective cars over the limit.

Reddick made contact with the wall twice and his No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet suffered a flat tire, necessitating an unscheduled pit stop.

Cindric appeared to have abused his tires, and on lap 111 his No. 22 Team Penske Ford blew a tire, causing him to spin out.

During the pit stops that followed under caution, the No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew had a slow pit stop, and Busch lost several spots on pit road. To boot, NASCAR busted Busch with an uncontrolled tire, forcing Busch to restart at the tail of the field with just over 30 laps left.

Another caution flag quickly flew with 26 laps to go when Brandon Jones and Ryan Preece brought out a caution. While TV cameras didn’t initially catch it, Preece nicely avoiding making contact with the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota of Jones.

During that run, Busch gained some positions, but was still mired outside the top five. His pit crew picked him up one spot in the ensuing stop, but still had not yet returned to the front.

JR Motorsports teammates Annett and Noah Gragson stayed out under the caution period and were leading the race on the restart as a result. They both banked on another caution to pit and grab their last set of fresh tires.

Custer ultimately grabbed the lead and never looked back. Busch recovered to finish in second place, one spot short of winning his 200th career NASCAR win.

Production Alliance Group 300 results

About the author

Mark Kristl joined Frontstretch at the beginning of the 2019 NASCAR season. He is the site's ARCA Menards Series editor. Kristl is also an Eagle Scout and a proud University of Dayton alum.

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