Cole Custer picked up his second NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) victory at Texas Motor Speedway on Saturday and clinched a position in the NXS Championship 4 in two weeks’ time at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Californian won the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead a season ago but wasn't inside the Championship 4. Custer absolutely dominated the event, winning by 15.4 seconds over Sam Hornish, Jr.
To make things better for the sophomore driver, the series' "big-two" sit outside the cutline, needing a win at next weekend's ISM Raceway. Defending NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (CWTS) Champion, Christopher Bell and this season's NXS Regular Season Champion, Justin Allgaier are considered the NXS "big-two" and need a good day in the desert.
Allgaier sits 12 points below the cutline, while Bell faces a 34 point deficit. The two can get it done in the desert, with Allgaier winning the 2017 DC Solar 200 at the speedway in April. Christopher Bell was leading last season's CWTS event at ISM Raceway before he tangled with his Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate towards the end of the 150-lapper.
Custer's current competition in the Championship 4 is Tyler Reddick, Elliott Sadler and Daniel Hemric. Custer beat Reddick on a last lap pass, Saturday in Texas. Elliott Sadler is trying to win his first NXS Championship in his final season of competition. Daniel Hemric has shown tons of speed, but falls under pressure during races, not winning a single NXS or CWTS yet in his career.
If the Playoff Grid doesn't change after next week's race in Phoenix, can Reddick hold off Custer in Miami for Texas redemption and a championship in his rookie season? Can Sadler end up on top? Will Hemric finally close the door on his biggest stage, yet? Or does Custer prove his worth to Stewart-Haas Racing at the Homestead-Miami Speedway?
But first, the Whelen Trusted to Perform 200 at ISM Raceway is Saturday, November 10 at 3:30PM EST on NBC.