Cole Custer grabs 1st Xfinity Series win of the season in Portland
By ANNE M. PETERSON
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) Cole Custer pulled into the lead after a late caution for his first NASCAR Xfinity Series win this season on the road course at Portland International Raceway.
Custer earned his 11th overall victory on the series in the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford, besting Justin Allgaier by .142 seconds on Saturday. Custer pulled ahead on the overtime restart after a caution for debris on the track with three laps to go.
“Man, I'm just so happy. I've never won a road course race before,” Custer said. “I’ve been so close so many times and it’s just awesome to win this thing.”
Allgaier led for most of the third stage after winning last week's rain-delayed race in Charlotte in the No. 7 Brandt Chevrolet. Allgaier has four straight top-three finishes.
On the restart, Parker Kligerman tried to pass Allgaier and they made contact, along with Sheldon Creed, in the first turn. Custer, who was running in fifth, took advantage and snuck by - then held off hard-charging Allgaier at the finish.
“It’s awesome to get this trophy and get that out of the way,” Custer said. “I’m pumped for the rest of the year. We’ve got fast cars.”
Sam Mayer, Josh Berry and Austin Hill rounded out the top five.
Saturday’s 75-lap race on the 12-turn, 1.97-mile road course north of downtown Portland was run under a clear sky in temperatures hovering near 80.
It was the second year the Xfinity Series - a step below the NASCAR Cup - has come to Portland. Last year A.J. Allmendinger won in frequent downpours, crossing the finish line 2.879 seconds in front of Myatt Snider.
Now full-time on NASCAR’s Cup series, Allmendinger did not return to defend his title on the 1.97-mile course north of downtown Portland.
Creed won the pole in the No. 2 Whelen Chevrolet with a lap of 95.694 mph in qualifying on Saturday morning. It was his first career Xfinity series pole. Creed was knocked out of last year’s race in the final stage after a multicar crash at Turn 1.
Custer also qualified for the front row with a lap of 95.398 mph, but was sent to the back at the start because of adjustments.
Sammy Smith had to pit after the first lap because his No. 18 Toyota got stuck in second gear. Chandler Smith spun out on the first lap after contact with Connor Mosack and had to pit early. There was no caution.
The first caution came out on the 18th lap when Stefan Parsons' No. 07 Chevrolet had engine failure. Then Daniel Hemric's No. 11 Chevrolet caught on fire under caution. After repairs were made on his car, Hemric returned to the track to help him prepare for next week's road course race at Sonoma.
“Very rare to have something like that happen,” Hemric said.
John Hunter Nemechek, who finished 10th but remained atop the points standings, took over the lead out of the caution, but Creed overcame him on the last corner to win the first stage. It was his second stage win of the year.
With two laps to go in the second stage, Creed spun off after contact to Nemechek and Custer, who climbed from all the way in the back, took over Nemechek to win the stage.
But Custer went off the course on the restart, and Allgaier took the lead to start the final stage.
There was a caution with eight laps left when Riley Herbst's engine caught fire. Allgaier held the lead at the restart, but Creed moved into second ahead of Custer and Kligerman.
The NASCAR Cup series was in Madison, Illinois, for Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300.
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Updated June 3, 2023