Cole Custer Dominates Xfinity Series Event At Auto Club Speedway

Cole Custer celebrates after winning the NASCAR Xfinity Series Production Alliance 300 at Auto Club Speedway Saturday (Photo: James Gilbert/Getty Images)

By Reid Spencer

NASCAR Wire Service

Californian Cole Custer was the only former Auto Club Speedway winner in the field for Saturday’s Production Alliance 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race in Fontana, Calif.

Three overtimes, 12 cautions and more than three hours of official race time later, Custer was still the only former winner in the Fontana field, having beaten runner-up Noah Gragson to the finish line by .565 seconds. 

It was a long day’s journey into night, a race that started in mid-afternoon and unexpectedly ended under the lights in temperatures that dropped appreciably between the start and the finish. The three overtimes extended the event 15 laps beyond its scheduled distance of 150 circuits at the 2-mile track.

But Custer was the clear class of the field, leading 80 of the 165 laps and twice charging like a rocket from the outside of the fourth row to the lead after slower-than-usual late pit stops. 

He got his second victory at Fontana in a No. 07 Ford that was a partnership entry between Stewart-Haas Racing and Bobby Dotter-owned SS Green Light Racing. 

Custer was moonlighting—literally, as it turned out—from his Sunday ride in the No. 41 SHR Ford Mustang, which he’ll be racing in the WISE Power 400 (3:30 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). 

“Man, it was just an awesome car,” Custer said during his post-race frontstretch interview. “That thing was just a rocket ship all day. I can’t thank Bobby Dotter enough—everybody that was involved on this car. 

“It was unbelievable how fast we were… It’s awesome to win at home—can’t wait for tomorrow.”

Gragson was competitive all day, leading 25 laps. Despite sliding though his pit stall during a pit stop under the eighth caution on Lap 125, he surged back to the front from 14th, retaking the top spot on the second lap after a restart on Lap 129.  

Five laps later, however, Custer regained the lead and held it for all but one of the last 31 laps, through four more cautions and three overtime restarts. 

“I felt like the car was really close all day, just struggled with the cloud cover and the temperature change—too loose or too tight,” Gragson said. “Hats off to all the guys on the 07 car and Cole Custer. He was really fast today.” 

Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, ran third in his first Xfinity Series start since a one-off in 2016. Josh Berry was fourth, as JR Motorsports drivers claimed four of the top eight finishing positions, with Gragson second, Sam Mayer sixth and Justin Allgaier eighth.

Anthony Alfredo parlayed tire strategy into a fifth-place finish. Pole winner AJ Allmendinger recovered from an unscheduled pit stop for a loose wheel to come home seventh. Riley Herbst and Ryan Sieg were ninth and 10th, respectively. 

The NASCAR Xfinity Series’ next stop is Las Vegas Motor Speedway for the Alsco Uniforms 300 on Saturday, March 5 (4:30 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).  

NASCAR Xfinity Series Race – 23rd Production Alliance Group 300

Auto Club Speedway

Fontana, California

Saturday, February 26, 2022

               1. (2)  Cole Custer(i), Ford, 165.

               2. (6)  Noah Gragson, Chevrolet, 165.

               3. (4)  Trevor Bayne, Toyota, 165.

               4. (11)  Josh Berry, Chevrolet, 165.

               5. (28)  Anthony Alfredo, Chevrolet, 165.

               6. (13)  Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, 165.

               7. (1)  AJ Allmendinger, Chevrolet, 165.

               8. (20)  Justin Allgaier, Chevrolet, 165.

               9. (16)  Riley Herbst, Ford, 165.

               10. (14)  Ryan Sieg, Ford, 165.

               11. (30)  Brandon Brown, Chevrolet, 165.

               12. (5)  Daniel Hemric, Chevrolet, 165.

               13. (12)  Ty Gibbs, Toyota, 165.

               14. (21)  Jeb Burton, Chevrolet, 165.

               15. (18)  Joe Graf Jr., Ford, 165.

               16. (22)  Kyle Weatherman, Chevrolet, 165.

               17. (10)  Jeremy Clements, Chevrolet, 165.

               18. (38)  Kyle Sieg, Ford, 165.

               19. (17)  Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 165.

               20. (36)  Joey Gase, Toyota, 165.

               21. (34)  Josh Williams, Chevrolet, 165.

               22. (24)  JJ Yeley, Toyota, 165.

               23. (25)  Matt Mills, Chevrolet, 165.

               24. (19)  Alex Labbe, Chevrolet, 165.

               25. (29)  Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, 163.

               26. (31)  Myatt Snider, Chevrolet, 163.

               27. (8)  Austin Hill #, Chevrolet, 162.

               28. (33)  Mason Massey, Chevrolet, 162.

               29. (37)  Jeffrey Earnhardt, Toyota, 161.

               30. (23)  Stefan Parsons, Chevrolet, Accident, 159.

               31. (27)  Tommy Joe Martins, Chevrolet, 158.

               32. (9)  Sheldon Creed #, Chevrolet, Accident, 156.

               33. (3)  Brandon Jones, Toyota, Accident, 155.

               34. (26)  Bayley Currey, Chevrolet, 154.

               35. (32)  Ryan Vargas, Chevrolet, Accident, 150.

               36. (35)  Jesse Iwuji #, Chevrolet, 131.

               37. (15)  Jade Buford, Chevrolet, Accident, 123.

               38. (7)  Landon Cassill, Chevrolet, Engine, 6.

Average Speed of Race Winner:  105.682 mph.

Time of Race:  3 Hrs, 5 Mins, 5 Secs. Margin of Victory:  .565 Seconds.

Caution Flags:  12 for 58 laps.

Lead Changes:  19 among 8 drivers.

Lap Leaders:   A. Allmendinger 1-13;T. Bayne 14-23;N. Gragson 24;T. Bayne 25-38;D. Hemric 39-48;C. Custer(i) 49-59;N. Gragson 60;C. Custer(i) 61-72;J. Allgaier 73;B. Jones 74-76;C. Custer(i) 77-103;N. Gragson 104;J. Allgaier 105-108;N. Gragson 109-124;T. Gibbs 125-127;J. Allgaier 128-129;N. Gragson 130-134;C. Custer(i) 135-143;N. Gragson 144;C. Custer(i) 145-165.

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led):  Cole Custer(i) 5 times for 80 laps; Noah Gragson 6 times for 25 laps; Trevor Bayne 2 times for 24 laps; AJ Allmendinger 1 time for 13 laps; Daniel Hemric 1 time for 10 laps; Justin Allgaier 3 times for 7 laps; Brandon Jones 1 time for 3 laps; Ty Gibbs 1 time for 3 laps.

Stage #1 Top Ten: 18,07,7,9,54,16,8,39,11,1

Stage #2 Top Ten: 07,19,7,9,54,11,16,1,8,98


  1. Alfredo almost pulled a rabbit out of the hat.
    So next gen car in cup series, causes ripples that I would not think of in this Xfinity race. Trever Bayne came out of retirement and has a 7 race deal with Gibbs in the 18. Ran great. But the issues? A Couple on pit road. Why? Because due to the next gen car in cup, Gibbs would not allow the cup team pit members to service the Xfinity car of Bayne, according to the commentators. It was discussed that with the new single lug and different size and tire profile of both series, Gibbs felt it might be detrimental to the cup pit crew, and possibly put them out of synch for a bit on Sunday. Wants total focus of crew on the next gen pitting.
    Jeez, the devil is in the details!
    Im having fun in the early season with all these back stories. Hope it all don’t turn stale as it gets figured out. At least the cup guys should not have to deal with as much wind today, as that threw a few of those guys for a loop during practice saturday.

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