Date: Oct. 17, 2021
Event: Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 (Round 33 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Format: 334 laps, broken into three stages (105 laps/105 laps/124 laps)
Start/Finish: 20th / 19th (Running, completed 330 of 334 laps)
Point Standing: 28th with 514 points
Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Larson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-105):
● Cole Custer started 20th and finished 23rd.
● The No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang raced its way up to 14th in the opening laps. Custer began to fall back as the green-flag run continued after reporting that his racecar was too free into the corners.
● During the lap-25 competition caution, Custer asked to be tightened up as his Ford Mustang continued to build loose. The No. 41 team brought its driver down pit road for four fresh tires, fuel and a minor track bar adjustment to combat the ill-handling racecar.
● Custer was caught up in an accident on the lap-31 restart while running 18th. The No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang sustained nose and rear damage in the accident. The team pitted several times under caution to fix the damage and change the tires.
● When the race went back green on lap 40, Custer restarted 27th. He continued to climb up through the field, driving up to 21st by lap 60.
● As the first stage went on without another caution, Custer was unable to hold off the leaders and went a lap down with 25 laps to go in the stage. The No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles team gambled for a yellow and stayed out until its Ford Mustang ran out of fuel on lap 100. Custer pitted for a splash of fuel before returning to the field.
● Ultimately, Custer finished 23rd in the stage. During the stage break, the team pitted for four tires, fuel and another round of adjustments.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 106-210):
● Custer started 23rd and finished 23rd.
● When the race restarted on lap 113, the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford driver was stuck in 23rd, two laps down with only one other car on the same lap. Custer reported that his Ford Mustang was too tight on the initial restart.
● As the long run continued, the 23-year-old driver told his team that his racecar would start to free up but it took a while to come to him.
● When the caution came out on lap 165, Custer was running 22nd, three laps down. He reported that his car was slow on the frontstretch. The No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles team brought him down pit road for four tires, fuel and an adjustment. Custer restarted 23rd on the lap 171.
● On lap 179, Custer reported that the backend of his Ford Mustang was better, but it was still too tight in the front. The stage went green the rest of the way, and the No. 41 Ford Mustang finished 23rd.
● During the stage break, Custer reported that his car was extremely tight. The No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles team pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 211-334):
● Custer started 22nd and finished 19th.
● The No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford driver reported early in the run that he felt like the team’s last adjustment took the front trim out of the racecar. He said he needed to be freed up on the next stop.
● On lap 271, crew chief Mike Shiplett called his driver to pit road for a green-flag stop to put on four fresh tires, fill up on fuel and make a minor wedge adjustment. The yellow flag came out just four laps later. Custer stayed out on track during the caution to take the wave-around and get a lap back. He restarted 22nd.
● He reported during the next run that his Ford Mustang was still too tight. When the caution came out on lap 299, the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles team brought its Ford Mustang to pit road for four tires, fuel and a double adjustment.
● Custer restarted 22nd on lap 304, but a caution for an incident in turn one on the restart brought out the red flag. The team stayed out on the track when the field started rolling again. The No. 41 Ford Mustang restarted 21st on lap 309.
● The yellow flag came out again on lap 314 while Custer was running 21st. Shiplett called him down pit road under caution to put on four fresh tires. He restarted 21st when the race went back green on lap 218.
● Another two cautions helped the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford driver get back into the top-20. Custer finished 19th to earn his 15th top-20 of the season.
● Kyle Larson won the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 to score his 14th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his series-leading eighth of the season and his first at Texas. His margin over second-place William Byron was .459 of a second.
● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 55 laps.
● Only 15 of the 39 drivers in the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 finished on the lead lap.
Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Not the day we wanted at Texas. That wreck in the first stage really hurt a strong run for the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang. I’m proud of our team for never giving up, though. They fixed up our car, and then we used those cautions at the end to get back into the top-20. We’ll move onto Kansas.”
The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday, Oct. 24, at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. It is the eighth race of the 10-race playoffs and the second race in the Round of 8. It starts at 3 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by NBCSN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!