Cole Custer holds off Newberry and collects his first K&N Pro Series West Victory
For the last four months, Cole Custer has held his vision on the checkered flag at Phoenix International Raceway. He patiently waited until Thursday to get his first win at the track where he was denied a victory last November.
Custer is just 16 years-old and won the Talking Stick Resort 75, NASCAR’s K&N Pro Series West season opener from the pole position. This is his second pole in K&N West to match the two he has in K&N East. His first challenge came from three-time Phoenix winner Greg Pursley and then from a hard-charging Brennan Newberry with a green-white-checkered finish.
In the November 2013 K&N Pro Series West season finale, Custer had a dominant car in leading practice, winning the pole position and leading every lap in the race – except for one. Gray Gaulding used a bump-and-run move on the white-flag to spin Custer to a sixth-place finish and claim the checkered flag.
On Thursday night, Custer led the first ten laps before Pursley took the lead. On lap 28 Custer regained the lead from Pursley, who was mired with lapped traffic. From there, Custer held the lead all the way to victory lane.
Custer built his lead to more than a second in the closing laps, but on lap 72 a late caution because of contact from Greg Rayl with the turn four wall, closed the gap for the last restart and overtime finish. Custer was able to hold off a persistent Newberry at the line by .376 seconds.
Nick Drake was a third-place finish for Bill McAnally Racing in his K&N West debut, while Pursley came in fourth after rebounding from early trouble. Two-time NASCAR Canadian Tire Series champion DJ Kennington rounded out the top-five.
Dylan Lupton, Giles Thorton, Brandon McReynolds, Brett Thompson and Taylor Cuzick rounded out the top-ten finishers for the night.
This was Custer’s first K&N West victory in just three starts. He does have a pair of K&N East wins last season, including Iowa Speedway in August and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in September.
The Talking Stick Resort 75 telecast by Fox Sports 1 is on Friday, March 7 at 1 pm ET.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West is back in action on Saturday, March 22 in the NAPA 150 at Irwindale (CA) Speedway. It is the first series race at the Southern California half-mile oval since July 2011.