Stewart-Haas Racing: NXS Race Report from Phoenix — CUSTER WINS CHAMPIONSHIP and RACE!

Champion: Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Race Winner:  Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)

Stage 1 Winner:  John Hunter Nemechek of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 2 Winner:  Cole Custer of Stewart-Haas Racing (Ford)


SHR Race Finish:            

●  Cole Custer: Started 7th/Finished 1st; Running, completed 202 of 202 laps

●  Riley Herbst: Started 9th/Finished 4th; Running, completed 202 of 202 laps


SHR Points:

●  Cole Custer: 1st with 4,040 points

●  Riley Herbst: 13th with 904 points 


Championship Notes:

●  This is Custer’s first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship. He finished runner-up in the standings in his most recent fulltime seasons in the series in 2018 and 2019.

●  This marks the second time Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has won an Xfinity Series championship. Custer delivered the owner’s title in 2018.

●  This marks the seventh Xfinity Series championship for Ford and its second in the last four years after Austin Cindric won in 2020. Ford’s other champions include Greg Biffle (2002), Carl Edwards (2007), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2011-12), and Chris Buescher (2015).

●  Ford’s Mustang brand has earned a drivers’ or owners’ championship in all but three seasons since joining the Xfinity Series in 2011.


Victory Notes:

●  Custer’s victory marked SHR’s 25th Xfinity Series victory, its fourth of the season and its first at Phoenix.

●  This was SHR’s 101st overall victory (69 points-paying NASCAR Cup Series wins, six non-points-paying NASCAR Cup Series wins, 25 Xfinity Series wins and one ARCA Menards Series West win)

●  This was Custer’s 13th career Xfinity Series victory and his 12th with SHR.

●  This was Custer’s third victory of 2023 and his first win in eight career Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix.

●  Custer led four times for a race-high 96 laps to increase his laps-led total at Phoenix to 140.

●  Custer’s margin of victory over second-place Sheldon Creed was .601 of a second.


SHR Notes:

●  This was Custer’s 14th top-five and 21st top-10 of the season. It was his third top-five and sixth top-10 at Phoenix.

●  This was Custer’s sixth straight top-12 at Phoenix.

●  Custer finished second in Stage 1 to earn nine bonus points and he won Stage 2 to earn 10 more bonus points.

●  Herbst earned his 10th top-five and 17th top-10 of the season. It was his fourth top-five and sixth top-10 in nine career Xfinity Series starts at Phoenix.

●  This was Herbst’s fifth straight top-five. He finished fourth Oct. 7 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval, won Oct. 14 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, finished second Oct. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and finished fourth last Saturday at Martinsville (Va.) Raceway.

●  This was Herbst’s second straight top-five and third straight top-10 at Phoenix. He finished seventh in the season finale last November and fourth in March.

●  Herbst’s fourth-place finish equaled his previous best finish at Phoenix, earned on three separate occasions (March 2021, November 2021 and March 2023).

●  Herbst finished 10th in Stage 2 to earn one bonus point.


Sound Bites:

“I thought it was over. I mean, I went from first to third and I was able to shift the car all night and the Doug Yates horsepower worked out and pulled me off the corner. I can’t believe we won that thing after going back to third on that (last) restart, but I can’t say enough about these guys. I mean, we started the year off and it was a struggle and we kind of had to dig deep with each other and really talk about how to get better. To see how much this group has grown through the year and to be a part of something, I knew I wanted to work with JT (crew chief Jonathan Toney). I knew that he was the guy that could make it happen and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else. I just can’t thank Gene Haas enough. He’s given me opportunities and I wouldn’t be here without him. I can’t thank him enough, and Ford Performance, Haas Automation, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s awesome to bring one back to Stewart-Haas right now. It means the world. Being so close a couple times this year and how the last few years have gone, I mean, these guys still believe in me and have given me really fast racecars and just digging all year. We did such a great job just getting better and better every week. These guys just brought a rocket ship tonight. It’s a very proud moment winning this championship with these guys. I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else.” – Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang


Next Up:            

The next event on the NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule is the 2024 season opener on Feb. 17 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The race begins at 5 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FS1 and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.