After completing 11 laps in opening NASCAR Xfinity Series practice Friday, Cole Custer rocketed down the hill into Turn 1 at Watkins Glen International.
The left-side tires of Custer’s No. 00 Ford rolled across the curbing at the outside of the corner. Custer steered to the right, but the car suddenly twitched to the left and shot out of control into the Armco barrier near the entrance to Turn 2.
With the primary car destroyed, Custer’s team was forced to roll out a backup, and crew members spent the remainder of first practice, the break between sessions and the bulk of final practice preparing the new car, an operation that included switching the race engine to the backup.
“I got on those curbs coming off of (Turn) 1 and just got loose and overcorrected it into the wall,” said Custer, who will start from the rear of the field in Saturday’s Zippo 200 (3 p.m. ET on NBC, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). “Those curbs are really slick in general, and starting the weekend out without any rubber on them, they’re even more slick.
“So I just misjudged it—I messed up. It can happen, but it’s really disheartening. I felt like our car was really good, and just to do that, it just really sucks. Our guys worked really hard, and I can’t thank them enough, getting the (backup) car ready. Our car’s pretty good. It’s just a matter of being there at the end of the race.”
Custer got seven laps on the backup car and was 12th fastest in Happy Hour at 119.814 mph. Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series veteran Kyle Busch led both practices and posted his best lap of the day (121.862 mph) in the final session.