LOUDON, N.H. – Cole Custer saw his lead in the season-long NASCAR Xfinity Series wins column disappear again on Saturday after rival Christopher Bell took down the victory in the ROXOR 200.
Bell’s triumph at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was his fifth of the season, tying him with Custer for the series lead, and it left Custer with a bitter taste in his mouth after the 200-mile race.
Custer’s frustration was understandable, as well, given that Bell led a whopping 186 of 200 laps in Saturday’s dominant affair, while Custer failed to lead even a single lap in the event.
“It is frustrating, because there at the end I felt like we had a car that could compete with him, but I just wasn’t driving the car right at the start of the race and I got us behind on adjustments,” noted Custer. “From there, we were kind of playing catch-up. They gave me a really fast car and I think I learned a lot, but I wish we would have won. I learned a lot though and I’ll be better next time. I knew I wasn’t the best here, so I thought there was stuff I had to learn.
“I thought I had a good idea of what I needed to do, but there was still a little bit of a learning curve during the race.”
Saturday marked the fourth time in the last five races that either Custer or Bell has won in the Xfinity Series, with each driver scoring two victories during that timeframe.
The see-saw battle between the two has been one that has been entertaining for the fans, but tough lately on the driver of the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang.
Afterward, Custer admitted that Bell simply had him outmatched on Saturday.
“He was just better than me today,” said Custer. “Their car was maybe a tick better, but I think we could have competed with them. Like I said before, I wasn’t driving the car right at the start of the race and I got us behind on adjustments … and then from there we just weren’t how we should have been at the end of the race because of how I was driving at that start.
“I do feel like I learned a lot for the next time, but it’s still frustrating.”
Leaving Loudon, Custer now sits second once again in playoff points earned, with 31 to Bell’s series-leading 36. However, he knows a major lesson he and his team can improve upon as they continue down the hot summer stretch.
“At the end of the race, we could match lap times with the 20, but we were behind on the short run (speed we needed),” Custer explained. “That’s something we’ll work on.”