Date: Oct. 31, 2021
Event: Xfinity 500 (Round 35 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Cup Series
Location: Martinsville (Va.) Speedway (.526-mile oval)
Format: 500 laps, broken into three stages (130 laps/130 laps/240 laps)
Start/Finish: 24th / 23rd (Running, completed 501 of 501 laps)
Point Standing: 26th with 547 points
Note: Race extended one lap past its scheduled 500-lap distance due to a green-white-checkered finish.
Race Winner: Alex Bowman of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Chase Elliott of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-130):
● Cole Custer started 24th and finished 22nd.
● When the green flag waved for the 500-lap race, the No. 41 Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail Ford driver worked his way into the top-20 in only three laps and stayed there for a majority of the opening laps.
● As the green-flag run continued, Custer battled with a tightening Ford Mustang. He fell back to 26th by the time the competition caution came out on lap 60.
● During the competition caution, the No. 41 team pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment to combat the balance issue on the racecar. Custer rejoined the field 26th, the first car one lap down.
● The No. 41 Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail team caught a break when the caustion came out just three laps later while Custer was running in the Lucky Dog position. He pitted during the caution for four fresh tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment during the caution.
● Custer continued to struggle with a tight racecar, making it difficult to turn. He finished 22nd in the stage.
● During the stage break, the No. 41 team brought Custer down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air pressure adjustment.
Stage 2 Recap (Laps 131-260):
● Custer started 22nd and finished 22nd.
● The No. 41 Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail Ford Mustang ran 22nd in the opening laps of the stage. When the caution came out on lap 197, Custer reported to the team that he was still struggling to turn. The team pitted during the caution to put on four fresh tires, fill up on fuel and make a minor trackbar adjustment.
● As the rest of the stage went caution-free, the 23-year-old driver ran as high as 21st. Ultimately, he was unable to overcome the balance issues and finished 22nd.
● The No. 41 Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail team came down pit road during the stage break for four tires, fuel and a double adjustment.
Final Stage Recap (Laps 261-501):
● Custer started 22nd and finished 23rd.
● The Ladera Ranch, California, native ran in 22nd at the start of the stage, one of only two cars one lap down.
● When the caution came out on lap 310, Custer reported that his Ford Mustang was still too loose getting into the corner. The No. 41 Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail team called its driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and an adjustment.
● Another caution came out on lap 323. Custer reported that he “fired off tight.” The team pitted for just a wedge and trackbar adjustment. The Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail Ford driver was in the Lucky Dog position and earned back his lost lap.
● Trouble found Custer on lap 357. Contact with another car caused the No. 41 Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail Ford Mustang to spin, bringing out the caution. The team pitted to put on fresh tires.
● After the caution came out on lap 378, crew chief Mike Shiplett took a gamble and kept his driver out on track when the leaders pitted, hoping for a quick caution. Custer restarted third, but as the laps went green, the newer tires took over and Custer fell back to 22nd.
● On the lap-436 caution, Custer reported that he still needed help with the turn on his Ford Mustang. The team pitted for four fresh tires, fuel and another minor adjustment.
● Custer continued to report that his Ford Mustang was tight in the center and loose off the corners. Despite the balance issue, he made his way as high as 17th in the final 30 laps.
● In an overtime finish, Custer fought to stay in the top-20 but was unable to advance in the top lane and finished 23rd.
● Alex Bowman won the Xfinity 500 to score his sixth career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fourth of the season and his first at Martinsville. His margin over second-place Kyle Busch was .472 of a second.
● There were 15 caution periods for a total of 91 laps.
● Twenty-five of the 38 drivers in the Xfinity 500 finished on the lead lap.
Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
“Honestly, we just struggled all day. Martinsville is a tough track, and that proved to be true in this race. We struggled with the balance on the No. 41 Dixie Vodka Peach Cocktail Ford Mustang and just couldn’t get it right. Wish we could’ve gotten a better finish for Dixie Vodka, but we’ll head to Phoenix.”
The NASCAR Cup Series season finale is Sunday, Nov. 7, at Phoenix Raceway. The championship race starts at 3 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!