Custer takes Portland Xfinity win

Cole Custer has wom NASCAR Xfinity Series the Pacific Office Automation 147 at Portland. Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images

Cole Custer has won his first race of the 2023 Xfinity Series season. He captured the checkered flag at Portland International Raceway after a wild overtime finish and put Stewart-Haas Racing in the playoffs.

‘Stone Cole’ was not in a position to win on the final restart, but he capitalized on a major opportunity after lining up on the second row. Big Machine Racing’s Parker Kligerman took the field three-wide in his #48 Chevrolet heading toward Turn 1 after JR Motorsports’ Justin Allgaier and Richard Childress Racing’s Sheldon Creed restarted from the front row.

Kligerman missed the corner and made contact with Allgaier’s #7 Chevrolet, which pushed it into Creed’s #2 Chevrolet. Both leaders missed the turn and had to make their penalty maneuvers around some signs in the chicane. Meanwhile, Custer avoided the collision and took the lead.

The driver of the #00 Ford did not have an easy path to Victory Lane as Allgaier blended back into the field in the second position. He began to chase down Custer over the final two laps, and he put himself within reach of the lead entering the final turn.

This situation is where many drivers would simply use their bumper to knock the leader out of the way. Allgaier, who has a reputation as a clean and respectful driver, did not take this route. He tried to move to the inside so that there would be one final drag race, but he wasn’t able to get the position he needed.

Allgaier ultimately had to settle for second after leading 23 laps while Custer punched his ticket to the playoffs with his first win of the season. JR Motorsports’ Sam Mayer finished third after knocking Creed off of the track while teammate Josh Berry finished fourth overall. Richard Childress Racing’s Austin Hill rounded out the top five.

This win capped off a unique day for Custer considering that he started the day at the rear of the field due to a tire issue. He also lost the lead at the start of the final stage after missing Turn 1.

Custer entered the 2023 season as a championship favorite based on his seven-win Xfinity Series season in 2019 and the experience he gained during his three seasons battling the best drivers in the Cup Series.

The season did not begin as Custer and Stewart-Haas Racing planned. He only had one top-10 finish in the first six races, and he finished 32nd at Circuit of the Americas.

However, Custer had since turned his season around with six consecutive top-10 finishes and five top-fives. The win at Portland International Raceway only capped off this stretch of races and put him back into contention for a deep playoff run.

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