Cole Custer

Xfinity results, points after Dover playoff elimination round

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With his win in Saturday’s final race of the first round of the Xfinity Series playoffs at Dover International Speedway, Cole Custer joins Christopher Bell as the only drivers to earn seven wins in the circuit this season.

What a way for Custer to head into the second round of the playoffs, which begin in two weeks at Kansas Speedway (the Xfinity Series enjoys next weekend off).

Custer led twice for 31 laps in the 200-lap event. Chase Briscoe, who won the pole but had to start the race from the back of the field for unapproved adjustments, rallied back to lead a race-high 71 laps before an engine misfire – which cropped up during qualifying – returned late in the race, relegating Briscoe to a still strong fifth-place finish.

In-between Custer and Briscoe in the top five finishing spots were Justin Allgaier, Austin Cindric and Justin Haley.

The eight drivers that advanced to the second round of the Xfinity playoffs were Custer, Bell, Allgaier, Briscoe, Cindric, Tyler Reddick, Noah Gragson and Michael Annett. Failing to advance to Round 2 were Brandon Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Haley and Ryan Sieg.

Click here for the results.

Here are the points immediately after the race:

Click here for the points.

Here are the points after the reseeding for the second round. Christopher Bell leads.

Click here for reseeded points heading into the second round

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Cole Custer earns 7th win of season, now it’s on to Xfinity 2nd round

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His car may carry the number 00, but Cole Custer was No. 1 Saturday, winning the final race of the first round of the Xfinity playoffs at Dover International Speedway, propelling him and seven other drivers into the Round of 8, which begins in two weeks at Kansas.

It was Custer’s seventh win of the season, tying him with Christopher Bell for most wins in the 2019 Xfinity Season. Custer led 31 laps in his 100th career start in the Xfinity Series. It was also the ninth career Xfinity Series win for the 21-year-old Custer.

“I’ve wanted to win here so bad for so long,” Custer told NBCSN. “I’ve been close a number of times. To win the gold Monster (trophy) is just unbelievable. … I think it’s every driver’s favorite race track. Everybody wants the Monster. It’s such a cool race track. … It’s definitely one you want to cross off the box.”

Justin Allgaier finished second, followed by Austin Cindric, Justin Haley and Chase Briscoe. Sixth through 10th were Michael Annett, Noah Gragson, John Hunter Nemechek, Zane Smith and Ryan Sieg.

The eight drivers that move on to the second round of the playoffs are: Christopher Bell, Briscoe, Custer, Cindric, Allgaier, Tyler Reddick, Gragson and Annett. The first seven drivers were locked into the playoffs either coming into the race or during the race, except for Annett, who had to race his way into the second round with a strong performance late in the race, holding off Haley and Nemechek and keeping both of them from advancing.

“I was trying to do my high school math out there and I think I needed to beat the 23 (Nemechek) by eight (points) in that last segment, so our strategy helped,” Annett told NBCSN. :I just wanted to hang tough and bring it home and that’s what these guys deserved. This is my best playoff run since we’ve started these playoffs so I’m looking forward to it as we have a lot of good tracks ahead of us.”

The four drivers that were eliminated from advancing in the playoffs were Brandon Jones, Nemechek, Sieg and Haley.

Even though he’s assured of moving on to Round 2, it was an uncharacteristically bad day for points leader Christopher Bell, who had to pit during Stage 1 to replace a carburetor, dropping him 14 laps behind the leaders. Bell returned to the race and finished 25th.

STAGE 1 WINNER: Justin Allgaier 

STAGE 2 WINNER: Justin Allgaier (seventh stage win of season; second time he’s swept both stages in a race this season – also did it at Bristol in spring).

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Cole Custer is one of Xfinity’s so-called “Big 3” and showed why he is in that elite company Saturday. He may not have had the best car, but great pit strategy and staying out of trouble brought home the win and put him in second place in the reset points heading into Round 2 of the playoffs. … And don’t overlook Chase Briscoe’s rally from last for unapproved adjustments after a misfire in qualifying to first before finishing fifth. He led a race-high 71 laps before the misfire returned late in the event.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Brandon Jones’ hopes to advance to the second round of the Xfinity playoffs lasted just two turns before he was involved in a first lap wreck with Harrison Burton that left Jones’ car unable to be repaired. “I always try to find the positives with this kind of stuff, obviously none today,” Jones, who finished 37th, told NBSCN. … Jeremy Clements’ motor blew up on Lap 10, ending his day (finished 36th).

NOTABLE: Brandon Brown‘s 11th-place finish was his best finish since placing sixth at Daytona in July. Saturday’s finish marked the second time he’s placed better than 12th this year. 

WHAT’S NEXT: The Kansas Lottery 300 at Kansas Speedway kicks off the Round of 8 second round of the Xfinity playoffs on Oct. 19 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC.

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Pole sitter Briscoe to back of pack, Cindric to lead field to green for Xfinity elimination race

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Chase Briscoe may have won the pole, but when the green flag falls for this afternoon’s Xfinity Series final first round playoff race at Dover International Speedway, he’ll start from the back of the 38-car field.

Citing unapproved adjustments, NASCAR stripped Briscoe of the top spot less than an hour after he earned the pole.

Also being sent to the back of the field following Saturday’s qualifying was Michael Annett due to an engine change. That is a major development for Annett, as he currently holds the final transfer spot into the Round of 8 two weeks from now.

Before he was ordered to the back of the field, Briscoe was the fastest car in the field on the 1-mile, banked all-concrete oval with a speed of 157.246 mph — that, even though his Ford suffered a slight engine misfire.

“The motor was running, once we got going, it was under load and just missing a little bit,” Briscoe told NBCSN. “It’s probably something electrical, we think. It’s a testament to all the awesome motors at Roush Yates Engines. We weren’t even under full power and were able to get the pole, so that’s good.”

But a couple seconds later in the same interview, Briscoe kind of foretold what eventually happened to him: “Hopefully, we can find something little, like a wire loose or something and be able to start up front. But if not, we’ll probably have to go to the back with everything big picture-wise and make sure we don’t take ourselves out of the playoffs. We’ve got a good race car, but hopefully we can find out what our gremlin is and go from there. At least we’re now aware of it and it’s not a surprise when it does happen.”

Now, Cindric, who recorded a speed of 156.733 mph, will start from what had been Briscoe’s spot at the front of the field.

“Great to be on the front row, have a little speed and hopefully we can do everything we can to move on to the Round of 8 and maybe get some bonus points,” Cindric told NBCSN. “Making the Round of 8 is a box checked. … We’re happy where we are as a team but we’ve got to keep the momentum going.”

Cole Custer (156.685 mph) will be alongside Cindric on the front row.

Third through fifth are Tyler Reddick (156.461 mph), Harrison Burton (155.864 mph) and Christopher Bell (155.858).

Sixth through 10th are Noah Gragson (155.736), Justin Allgaier (155.649), Brandon Jones (155.555), Zane Smith (155.454) and Justin Haley (155.112).

Bell narrowly avoided disaster when he almost lost control of his car coming out of Turn 4 during his qualifying effort. Bell was able to rein the car back in. Several cars later, Tyler Reddick also got loose twice during his qualifying run but also managed to save it both times.

Today’s Use Your Melon Drive Sober 200 race starts at 3 p.m. ET (televised on NBCSN, and on radio on Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

The four lowest-ranked playoff drivers after the race will be eliminated from advancing to the second round of the playoffs, which begin October 19 at Kansas Speedway.

Click here for full qualifying results.

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Xfinity practice report from Dover International Speedway

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Cole Custer was fastest in the final Xfinity Series practice Friday at Dover International Speedway.

Custer led a Stewart-Haas Racing sweep of the top two spots with a speed of 151.292 mph.

Teammate Chase Briscoe followed at 150.558 mph.

The top five was completed by Harrison Burton (150.521 mph), Noah Gragson (150.194) and Justin Allgaier (150.194).

Gragson recorded the most laps in the session with 75.

Custer had the best 10-lap average at 149.737 mph.

Click here for the practice report.

First Practice

Briscoe had the fastest lap with a top speed of 152.394 mph.

The top five was completed by Christopher Bell (151.656 mph), Tyler Reddick (151.649), Cole Custer (151.560) and Justin Allgaier (151.407).

Zane Smith recorded the most laps in the session with 39.

The session was red flagged once for Gray Gaulding having a mechanical issue and possibly putting down fluid.

Click here for the practice report.

 

Primer for first Xfinity playoff elimination race

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The title hopes for four Xfinity Series drivers will come to an end this weekend when the playoff field is trimmed to eight after Saturday’s elimination race at Dover International Speedway (3 p.m. ET on NBCSN).

Here’s a breakdown of the situation each playoff competitor finds himself in heading into the Monster Mile:

He’s safe!

Two drivers have secured spots in the second round. Christopher Bell advanced by winning the playoff opener at Richmond Raceway. Cole Custer has put himself in the second round based on points.

The two drivers lead the series in wins, with Bell claiming seven (tying his 2018 mark) and Custer winning six times.

Bell has won the last two Xfinity races at Dover.

Almost There …

Tyler Reddick, the third member of the “Big 3” this year, is all but assured a spot in the second round if nothing unexpected happens Saturday. He finished third at Dover in the spring.

Austin Cindric, the only Xfinity regular outside the “Big 3” to win multiple races this year (two), is also essentially assured a spot in round two. He finished sixth at Dover in the spring.

Not Completely Safe

The next batch of drivers aren’t necessarily in trouble, but one accident in the first stage and an unexpected DNF could spell trouble.

Justin Allgaier in fifth is the highest driver in the standings who hasn’t won this year. He’s 40 points up on the cutline and has 12 playoff points. He finished second at Dover in the spring and won the spring race in 2018.

Chase Briscoe trails Allgaier in the standings in sixth. He’s 35 points up (and has 13 playoff points) on the cutline after a stage win and a ninth-place finish at the Roval. He finished fifth at Dover in the spring.

Noah Gragson is seventh in the standings, 26 points above the cutline. He had a top five on the Roval and enters this weekend’s race with six straight top 10s. He finished 19th at Dover in the spring after experiencing a loose wheel.

Feeling the Heat

The last five drivers in the standings need some help to make it to the second round or they have to win.

Michael Annett is on the bubble and 11 points to the good. Annett is the lowest driver in the standings with a win. He has nine playoff points. Annett finished 10th in the spring Dover race.

That leaves the four drivers who find themselves outside the cutoff line.

John Hunter Nemechek and Brandon Jones each trail Annett by 11 points. Nemechek has no race or stage wins this year and has just two top 10s in the last six races. He’s finished in the top 10 in the last two Dover races.

Jones has no race victories, but has three stage wins and four playoff points. He has top 10s in the last three Dover races, but has the worst career average finish at Dover among the playoff drivers (19th).

Not much has gone well for Ryan Sieg (-37 points) and Justin Haley (-39) in the playoffs. After finishing outside the top 10 at Richmond, mechanical problems resulted in brief trips to the garage for both drivers at the Roval as they finished well off the pace.

Neither driver has won a Xfinity Series race, but that’s what they will need to do Saturday to continue their playoff hopes.

Sieg’s 11th-place finish in the spring was his best Dover result in 11 starts. Haley placed 17th in his first career Dover start.

Here are the playoff standings heading into Dover: