Cole Custer is still on the chip after what happened on Sunday afternoon during the Chevrolet Silverado 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.
The No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet driver was looking for his third win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the first of the season when he was crammed into the grass by John Hunter Nemechek just before the pair reached the start/finish line. Coming to the checkered flag, Nemechek and Custer went out of the scoring loop when they hit the grass. The scoring ticker on FS1 showed No. 19 DrawTite Ford driver Daniel Hemric as the leader but when NASCAR went back to the videotape, Nemechek was declared the winner of the road-course event.
Custer finished second and is still just a spot out of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase at -32 points. Eight drivers will move on to contend for the championship during the final seven races of the season.
“The first time I had to race him (Nemechek) all day, was about five (laps) to go. We were restarting on the outside and he rammed me into the grass coming out of turn one,” Custer said on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio’s Tradin’ Paint. “But they gave us the lead because the caution came out right away. I knew he was going to drive me dirty all day no matter what. That last lap, I was just trying not to make any mistakes and he pushed it a little bit farther. That’s what you do when you’re in second. He got pretty close to us and then the last couple corners, I knew he was probably going to hit us a little bit. I’m fine with a little hitting but when it’s three times putting you in the wall and off the track, that’s a different thing, especially in the position he’s in in points and the position we’re in. It’s just something that wasn’t called for.”
Custer does think he did nothing wrong and penalties should be in order for Nemechek’s No. 8 NEMCO Motorsports Chevrolet. “It’s just kind of a joke. I don’t know what else I could have done,” Custer said. "I didn’t block him, I didn’t run him dirty, I didn’t do anything to receive that. He wanted to ruin our day. I don’t know what else I could have done.”
Although Custer had one run-in with Nemechek at Phoenix a couple years ago, their relationship off the track was still a positive one. “We met and hung out through the NASCAR Next deal,” Custer said. “I could get along with John Hunter off the track. Everybody throughout the garage has known that he doesn’t have much respect for people. He’s going to be aggressive. If he takes you out, it is what it is. I’ve gotten along with him before but it’s not going to be like that now.”
Two days removed from CTMP and Custer is still not happy at Nemechek.
“I’ve been through this situation before where people have taken you out and they think that they’ve done something that they’re proud of and they ended your day,” he said. “I don’t think I’d ever race that way. If I was in his position right there, I would have maybe hit once but I never would have gone to the extent that he did. If I was behind him, I probably would have hit him a few times but I never would have put him in the wall and gave him no shot to come back. It is what it is.”
Next up for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is the final regular-season race at Chicagoland Speedway in a couple of weeks. Custer still has a chance but he has to win to get into the playoffs, but he has to put negativity behind him. “We’re bringing a truck we’ve never raced before,” he said. “We’re bringing the best stuff we have to try and win and that’s what we’re focused on. That’s what our goal is right now.”
With all that is on the line, Custer is not looking at paying Nemechek back at the moment. However, he still will be aggressive. “Right now I’m just going to race him as hard as I can,” Custer said. “If he steps over the line and makes my day any harder than it has to be, something’s going to happen. We’ll see.”