Darlington Night Race Ends with 31st-Place Finish for Custer

Race Winner: Denny Hamlin of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 2 Winner: Clint Bowyer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

 

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):             

● Cole Custer started 22nd and finished 17th.

● Custer climbed to 18th in the opening laps reporting his HaasTooling.com Mustang was a little loose.

● During the lap-25 competition caution Custer pitted his Ford for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help his tight condition. He restarted 17th on lap 31.

● The HaasTooling.com Mustang ended the stage 17th.

 ● A penalty for an uncontrolled tire during the stage break pit stop sent Custer to the rear of the field for the start of Stage 2.  

 

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-125):

● Custer started 30th and finished 34th.

● The 22-year-old pitted from 28th for fuel, four tires and adjustments to help with his tight-handling Mustang at lap 72. 

● Custer moved from 23rd to fifth when he stayed on the track during the lap 83 caution.

● The California native made contact with the outside wall on lap 107, bringing out a caution.

● He pitted twice to repair damage on the right side and change four tires.

● Custer restarted 32nd on lap 112, one lap down and completed the stage 34th, one lap down.  

● The HaasTooling.com driver pitted during the Stage 2 break for more repairs to his Mustang.

 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 126-208):

● Custer started 34th and finished 31st.

● Custer lost a second lap during the long green flag run to open the stage.

● With the caution out on lap 179 he pitted from 33rd for four tires, fuel and adjustments.  

● The rookie driver restarted 32nd on lap 186 and was 33rd at the lap 195 caution.

● The final caution was displayed for an accident on lap 201 with Custer in the 33rd spot.

● Rain ended the race on lap 208 - 20 laps short of the schedule distance.  

 

Notes:

● Custer made his ninth career NASCAR Cup Series start and just his second at Darlington.

● This was the first NASCAR Cup Series race to be held on a Wednesday in 36 years. The last time: July 4, 1984 when Richard Petty scored his 200th career victory at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

● Denny Hamlin won the Darlington 500k to score his 39th career NASCAR Cup Series victory, his second of the season and his third at Darlington.

● There were 11 caution periods for a total of 54 laps.

● Only 23 of the 39 drivers in the Darlington 500k finished on the lead lap.

● Harvick remains the championship leader after Darlington with a two-point advantage over second-place Joey Logano.

 

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We definitely had a lot better to start tonight at Darlington in the HaasTooling.com Mustang. We just had some bad luck and damage which made for a long night. We'll move on to the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday. 

 

Next Up:

The next event on the NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday, May 24 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. The race starts at 6 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.

 

 

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Speedway Digest Staff

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