Youth Movement: Custer Makes History
Custer Makes History by Winning UNOH 175
Youth was served in the Camping World Truck Series' return to New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Saturday. At 16 years, seven months and 28 days, Cole Custer became the youngest winner in the history of NASCAR's top-three touring series - Sprint Cup, Nationwide, Camping World Truck - taking the checkers in the UNOH 175 in only his seventh career Truck start.
With the win, Custer has earned a presidential scholarship from University of Northwestern Ohio President Dr. Jeff Jarvis, who gave him the award during the trophy presentation in Sunoco Victory Lane.
"It's awesome," said Custer, who was left speechless by UNOH's offer. "This is a pretty special race for our team because half or three quarters of our guys are all from New England, so this is a big race for us. I love the state and I just love this track. The fans are awesome and it was always one of my favorite tracks growing up, too, so I mean I can't believe I could come here and be in victory lane."
Custer, who is now 2-for-2 in career starts at the Magic Mile - having won last year's race in the K&N Pro Series East race - eclipsed Kurt Busch (21 years, 11 months, four days in July 2000) as the previously youngest winner.
Darrell Wallace Jr., series points leader Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter, and John H. Nemechek round out the top-five.
Wallace battled Custer on a late restart, but couldn't hold speed on the inside line through Turn 2 to keep pace with Custer.
"I thought we practiced better than we raced. We were best on the long runs and just terrible on the short runs, so all those restarts killed us," said Wallace, who sits 35 points behind Crafton for the points lead. "I'm not worried about the championship; I just let the crew worry about that. I just go out and try to win races."
Crafton, who led the points by five over Sauter coming in, certainly earned his now seven-point cushion. Crafton missed qualifying because of an electrical issue and was forced to start at the back of the field in 30th. He quickly picked apart the field and was a top-five car for much of the last half of the race. In fact, he held the lead on the final restart with five to go, but a slipped gear cost him an opportunity at the win.
"We started in the back, got to the front, and got beat it in the end," said Crafton. "I'm just super-disappointed in the finish. I screwed up on the last restart and I got beat."
Custer is the first active driver to get his first win in the Truck Series at NHMS. He led the first 144 laps of the race before a series of cautions and a decision to take four tires on pit road pushed the 16-year-old back to seventh. He restarted third on the final restart, but took advantage of Crafton's gaffe and a passive Wallace to lead the final four laps and earn the victory.
"I love how Cole is so humble, having a great season and we got a young, great, great driver here," said Custer's crew chief Joe Shear Jr. "He really stayed poised and calm through the last part of the race, and that was huge in keeping the team focused and giving us a chance at the win. Lots of maturity there."
Custer is the first driver not named Kyle Busch or Ron Hornaday Jr. to win a Truck race at NHMS since Johnny Benson in 2006.