LEBANON, Tenn. – Cole Custer had one of the fastest cars in Saturday’s (June 24) NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Nashville Superspeedway, but he was shuffled to ninth after a pit strategy gamble failed to pay off over two overtime restarts.
That wasn’t the only thing he was frustrated about, however.
On lap 53, eventual race-winner AJ Allmendinger was involved in a crash, sustaining damage to the right-rear quarter panel of his No. 10 Chevy in the incident. Contact wrinkled the panel just behind the tire, splaying the trailing edge out from the right side of the car into the air.
That proved to be no problem for Allmendinger, however, as the No. 10 car stormed back and zipped by Custer and Chandler Smith with ease during a long green-flag run in the final stage. Allmendinger survived the final two-lap shootout and took the checkered flag with a whopping 1.323-second advantage over runner-up Riley Herbst.
Custer didn’t mince words when asked about how he felt things worked out.
“I don’t think it was a very fair race there at the end,” Custer told Frontstretch. “And I love Wayne [Auton, Xfinity Series Managing Director], I love everybody at NASCAR, but I’m just frustrated.”
Custer expressed frustration on team radio about the potential for the damage to Allmendinger’s quarter panel to increase downforce on the No. 10, and he clarified to Frontstretch that that was the main source of his anger after the race.
“Yes,” Custer said. “Pretty frustrating. I felt like we had the best car there and we worked our guts out to pass the No. 16, and [Allmendinger] just flies by both of us.”
“[He] can drive two car lengths deeper into the corner, and it’s not even close. It’s frustrating, and they’ve made us fix damage in the past. I know it’s not an easy call, it just sucks.”
The No. 00 team surrendered second place to pit for tires during the late restarts, and Custer said that he wouldn’t have done anything different on a do-over.
“I wouldn’t have done anything different [on the restart], it’s just luck of the draw there on green-white-checkers, which lane moves, and which lane doesn’t,” Custer said. “Just pretty livid to finish ninth with a car that I think should’ve won. Pretty frustrated with that, you know, losing playoff points and everything.”
When asked about Custer’s comments in his post-race press conference, Allmendinger dismissed all the criticism.
“They shouldn’t have crashed in front of me then,” Allmendinger said. “… I don’t fix [the cars], I don’t do anything, I just drive them. If it helped, we got lucky for the good guys one time.”
The No. 10 Chevrolet passed NASCAR post-race inspection.
About the author
Stephen Stumpf is the NASCAR Content Director for Frontstretch, and his weekly columns include “Stat Sheet” and “4 Burning Questions.” Stephen also writes commentary, contributes weekly to the “Bringing the Heat” podcast and is frequently at the track for on-site coverage. A native of Texas, Stephen began following NASCAR at age 9 after attending his first race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Follow on Twitter @stephen_stumpf.
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