LONG POND, Pa. — Cole Custer was the dominant car on Saturday afternoon at Pocono Raceway, but it took until the final corner to secure the victory.
On an overtime restart, Tyler Reddick sent it to the lead into Turn 1, and maintained the lead entering Turn 3 on the final lap.
Custer played the final corner to his advantage, setting up Reddick to make the pass exiting to take the victory, his third of the 2019 NASCAR Xfinity Series Season.
“It was pretty unbelievable,” Custer said in victory lane. “Tyler gave me a real run for my money there. I have no idea how he made it stick on that restart on the bottom passing me but he did. He was unbelievable on the brakes at the end.
“I was just able to kind of force a mistake a little bit trying to pack air on him. It was a fun end of the race. I wish I didn’t have to do it like that, but it probably made it exciting.”
Custer started the day on the pole position, and dominated the entirety of Stage 1, despite the frequent cautions and subsequent restarts.
On lap seven, Brandon Jones spun out running in fourth position, collecting enough rear end damage from the SAFER barrier to end his day.
The next caution flew on lap 12 when Chad Finchum and Joey Gase collided off of Turn 2.
On lap 18, Christopher Bell went through the spin cycle, only suffering minor rear end damage. Bell was able to rebound for a Top 5 finish.
The lap 18 caution set up a strategy call for some drivers electing to pit early and stay out during the stage break on lap 25. Custer was not one of those drivers, and went on to lead every lap in Stage 1.
The differing pit strategies set up for a mixed restart order for Stage 2. Five cars elected to stay out, including John Hunter Nemechek, Bell, and others.
Nemechek led the field to the start of Stage 2, but was swallowed up by the field before the end of the lap. Bell took over as the leader, while Justin Allgaier emerged from the fray in second after restarting in seventh.
Custer didn’t get as good as a restart, and was mired back in the middle of the pack for the majority of the second stage.
Allgaier took the lead from Bell at lap 39, but Reddick was following closely behind, passing Bell for second place a few laps later.
Reddick seemed to have the faster pace, but Allgaier didn’t budge, and held on to win Stage 2.
Bell won the race off of pit road during the stage break caution, but a pair of Austins stayed out to lead the field on the restart. Austin Cindric took the green with Austin Dillon alongside, but Dillon was unable to hang on to the spot.
Allgaier again emerged behind Cindric and took the lead back at lap 59, but Custer had also emerged from the field, and began to stalk Allgaier for the lead.
On lap 66, Allgaier got loose out of Turn 1, and turned the lead over to Custer, with Bell and Reddick following through, placing Allgaier back in fourth.
Custer began to pull away again, and through the cycle of green flag pit stops, had stretched his lead over the field.
The caution flag was not done waving, though, as on Lap 93, Jeffrey Earnhardt took a spin off of Cindric’s nose.
With the field bunched up again, and everyone on different tire strategies, the green flag flew with three laps to go, only to go back under caution by Turn 1.
Allgaier, on newer tires than the drivers in front of him, made an aggressive move to the inside, but wasn’t able to hold it, spinning and collecting Cindric.
This caution set up an overtime finish, with Chase Briscoe leading the field on the final restart. Reddick made a move into Turn 1 that gave him the lead over Custer, but Custer wasn’t ready to give up.
Into the final corner, Reddick slipped up, allowing Custer to take advantage in the center of the corner to take back the lead and take home the victory.
Reddick leaves Pocono Raceway with a 76 point advantage over Bell.
Next week, the series heads to Michigan International Speedway for the LTi Printing 250.
— NASCAR Xfinity (@NASCAR_Xfinity) June 1, 2019
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