Cole Custer expects close racing in Saturday’s Xfinity event

DARLINGTON, SOUTH CAROLINA - AUGUST 30: Cole Custer, driver of the #00 Production Alliance Group Ford, stands in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 at Darlington Raceway on August 30, 2019 in Darlington, South Carolina. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

As Cole Custer tries to break a tie for the lead in NASCAR Xfinity Series victories, he expects the draft to be an important factor in Saturday’s Indiana 250 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN, IMS and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

“You’re wide open,” said Custer, who got his sixth win of the season—tying Christopher Bell for the series lead—last Saturday at Darlington Raceway on a post-race disqualification of Denny Hamlin’s car. “You’re trying to get your car to handle as good as it can but without having to lose a ton of speed. It’s just constantly a balance of trying to figure that out.

“I think in the past here our races have been obviously really good. Everybody stays really packed up, and you’re able to get drafts and stuff like that. It should be a really exciting race, I think.”

The possibility of drafting, however, isn’t enough for Custer to prefer running second off the final corner.

“You want to be leading,” said Custer, who was eighth fastest in both Xfinity Series practices on Friday. “With this package, you can definitely get a draft, but it takes the perfect scenario for you to get that big of a run.

“So you have to get a push behind you, and the guy in front of you has to block not good enough. You’d rather be the guy in front that has control and can block and do what he wants.”

Note: Bell led opening practice with a lap at 168.218 mph. Justin Haley was fastest in Happy Hour at 168.227 mph. Brandon Jones had the best consecutive 10-lap average in final practice at 166.151 mph. No driver ran 10 consecutive laps in the opening session.

Greg Engle