Custer, Bell duke for 5th Xfinity wins of season at Kentucky
The 300-miler started with Austin Cindric and Christopher Bell making up the front row. Cindric would lead the field into turn 1, but Bell’s Toyota Supra was able to take the lead away early. The start was criticized by many drivers thinking someone jumped the start. No penalty was made.
Bell dominated the opening stage, leading the entire 45-lap stage. Behind him, Gragson, Reddick, Custer, Cindric and others battled for stage points while Bell won by 3 seconds.
On the lap 47 pit stops, Christopher Bell lost several spots while Justin Haley took only two tires on the stop. On the ensuing restart, Brandon Jones took the lead spot while Haley slowly faded through the field. Bell was digging back up to the front of the field when Cindric got loose under Haley, sending both cars into the turn 3 wall.
Haley’s Kaulig Camaro wasn’t terribly damaged while Cindric lost a lap for repairs.
Noah Gragson took over the lead spot on the lap 60 restart with Bell taking 2nd-place. Bell followed Gragson for a handful of laps and got around Gragson’s JR Motorsports Camaro just before Ronnie Bassett Jr. spun the No. 90 out in turn 1 on lap 69 after losing a tire. On the restart, Bell was unchallenged and pulled away to score the win in the second stage from Kentucky.
Once again, Bell’s Joe Gibbs Racing crew failed to send off of pit road in the top spot, this time handing the race lead over to Chase Briscoe. Bell would restart 5th with 104 laps to go. Brandon Jones, who changed all four tires, passed Briscoe who only changed two on the restart, however, Briscoe was able to run Jones down after reporting the Menards Supra had smoke entering the cockpit. Briscoe was able to take the lead shortly after.
The engine for Jones was failing fast and after losing 10 spots, Jones pitted the Gibbs Supra but there was no solution to fix the expired engine. His JGR teammate, Christopher Bell was now third behind two Stewart-Haas Mustangs of Briscoe and Cole Custer. On lap 111, the two Ford’s swapped positions but Bell was there. The Ruud Supra was able to get around Briscoe in turn 2 but Custer pulled away.
Unable to catch Custer again, Bell started off the green flag pit stops, bringing his Toyota down with 52 laps remaining.
John Hunter Nemechek, Justin Allgaier and Riley Herbst were penalized for pit violations.
Christopher Bell was all the way up to speed when he caught Custer and a string of lapped traffic. In a mess of lapped cars, Bell moved up a lane in turn 1 and got a huge run down the back straight, but couldn’t make a pass in turn 3. Custer was able to pull back away despite reporting a tight car.
Reddick moved up to third with 40 laps to go, but he was 10-seconds back running the fastest laps of the race.
Custer was able to hold off any threat from Bell and pick up his fifth win of the 2019 Xfinity Series season. Custer led 88 of the 200-laps with Bell only 1.6-seconds back. The win for Bell makes him the winningest NXS driver so far this year, just one more than Bell.
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