Sat, 08 Aug 2020

Custer stuns field at Kentucky for 1st career Cup win

Field Level Media
13 Jul 2020, 08:40 GMT+10

With some of the top drivers in the NASCAR Cup Series battling it out for the lead on a restart with two laps to go in Sunday's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway, it was a rookie -- Cole Custer -- who emerged with the lead and ultimately the victory.

Custer, driving in just his 20th Cup race and his first on the circuit at the Kentucky 1.5-mile oval, beat out previous series champions Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick on the final restart to get his first Cup victory.

The 22-year-old's best career finish before Sunday was fifth, which he got a week ago at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Truex, of Joe Gibbs Racing, finished second, .271 seconds behind. Matt DiBenedetto, driving in his first season with the famed Wood Brothers Racing team, finished third.

Harvick, Custer's Stewart-Haas Racing teammate who restarted from the No. 1 position with two to go, was fourth. Another former series champion, Kurt Busch, was fifth.

Seven-time Cup champion Jimmie Johnson spent last weekend watching the race at Indy on television after testing positive for COVID-19. It marked the first time in his 666-race career that he missed a start. But during the ensuing week, he twice tested negative and was back in his Hendrick Motorsports Camaro.

Johnson, the winner of 83 Cup races, ran in the top five for much of the final stage at Kentucky and was running third when he was spun from behind by Brad Keselowski on a restart with 19 laps to go. He finished 18th.

Defending series champion Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing started from the pole but lost the lead to Aric Almirola on Lap 10. He never could get the lead back and ended up finishing 21st. The winner of 56 Cup races in his career has yet to win in 2020. Almirola, who led a race-high 128 laps and won the first stage, finished eighth.

Keselowski won Stage 2.

Two former winners at Kentucky -- Truex Jr. and Matt Kenseth -- started the race from the rear of the field because of failing pre-race inspection twice.

--Field Level Media

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