Cole Custer claims first Xfinity pole since 2019
AVONDALE, Ariz. — Cole Custer earned his first NASCAR Xfinity Series pole since 2019 in qualifying for Saturday’s United Rentals 200 at Phoenix Raceway.
Custer averaged 129.959 MPH (27.701 seconds) around the 1-mile Arizona track and beat Justin Allgaier by less than a tenth in qualifying.
Custer’s last Xfinity pole was September 2019 at Las Vegas. He has never won at Phoenix but his best finish, 2nd, came in November 2019.
In the first three races of 2023, Justin Allgaier has come back from a spin in Daytona, a loose wheel in Fontana and a restart violation in Las Vegas to earn top-3 finishes in every race.
Allgaier leads the field with two wins, nine top-5 finishes and 17 top-10s in 25 Xfinity starts at Phoenix. He also leads the field with 524 laps led and his 8.5 average finish is only bested by John Hunter Nemechek (6.6) and Cole Custer (8.3).
Fall 2021 Phoenix winner Daniel Hemric, Nemechek and Sheldon Creed round out the top 5, followed by Chandler Smith (rookie), Josh Berry, Austin Hill, Ryan Sieg and Riley Herbst in 10th.
THROUGH THE FIELD
Kyle Busch and Parker Kligerman will each start in the rear for Saturday’s race.
Kligerman hit the outside wall in qualifying after he said the brake pedal “went to the floor” entering turn 1. He’ll start 38th.
Busch was second fastest in practice but the team changed the car’s fuel regulators after he stalled at one point in practice. The change took the 2009 series champion out of qualifying and back to 37th to start Saturday’s race.
Timmy Hill failed to qualify the No. 66 MBM Motorsports Ford into the field. Hill stepped in for Brian Weber after the team struggled in practice.
Dawson Cram qualified 29th and put CHK Racing’s No. 74 Chevrolet in the field for the first time in 2023.
Rookies Sammy Smith, Parker Retzlaff and Blaine Perkins qualified 11th, 15th and 35th, respectively.
In his first start driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 19 Toyota, Ryan Truex qualified 12th. Toyota teammate Kaz Grala clocked in 13th.
Leland Honeyman qualified 23rd in his No. 45 Alpha Prime Racing Chevrolet. He’ll make his NASCAR Xfinity debut Saturday. Teammate Ryan Ellis clocked in 19th for his best qualifying run of the season.
Joe Graf Jr. qualified 24th, driving RSS Racing’s No. 38 Ford for the first time this season.
Garrett Smithley qualified 30th in his first attempt racing DGM Racing’s No. 91 Chevrolet this season.
The United Rentals 200 goes green at Phoenix Raceway, just after 4 p.m. ET Saturday (TV: FS1; Radio: MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
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