By Seth Eggert, Associate Editor
Although he started at the rear of the field, Custer was ahead of most wrecks in the 300-mile scheduled race. The No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang drafted through the field to be up front in the closing laps.
After avoiding a nine-car pileup that sent Daniel Hemric upside down, Custer was one of 14 cars that were largely undamaged and still competitive entering the first attempt at overtime. A quick caution for debris pushed the race into a second overtime attempt.
In the mad scramble for the lead, Custer pushed Sheldon Creed and Parker Kligerman forward. With so few cars left on track, the energy of the pack was greatly diminished. However, Custer’s push gave both Creed and Kligerman a chance to get by eventual race winner Jeb Burton. But their side-by-side battle ended their chance at victory.
Custer took the checkered flag in fourth as the field crashes once again behind him. By virtue of the other three Xfinity Dash 4 Cash drivers crashing out, Custer won the $100,000 bonus by default. It was the first time he won the bonus since the 2019 Richmond Raceway event.
“We were there at the end and ended up with a fourth-place finish and a $100,000 bonus,” Custer said. “I couldn’t be prouder of this No. 00 Haas Automation team for all their hard work. We obviously would’ve loved to get the win, but we had a solid day at a track that I’ve struggled at in the past. We’re continuing to get better. I’m ready to head to Dover next week to see what we can do.”
Though Custer easily drove through the field in Stage 1 after unapproved adjustments, he didn’t finish inside the top-10. Stage 2 ending under caution due to a wreck in which Blaine Perkins flipped on the backstretch. That caution also kept the Ladera Ranch, Calif. native outside of the top-10, keeping the 25-year-old from earning Stage points.
The fourth-place finish was Custer’s third consecutive top-five finish this season and his fourth top-10 in 2023. It was his 44th career Xfinity Series top-five finish.
The top-five finish moved Custer up from eighth to seventh in the points standings, 49 behind leader Austin Hill. He is just three points ahead of the cutline, currently held by Creed. Custer has a 24-point cushion over Hemric, the first driver below the cutoff.
Next for Custer is the A-Game 200 at Dover Motor Speedway. In the Xfinity Series he has six starts at ‘The Monster Mile’ with one victory, four top-five and five top-10 finishes. Custer’s worst finish at Dover is a 13th-place in 2018.
Winning the Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash bonus at Talladega keeps Custer eligible for another $100,000 bonus at Dover Motor Speedway. He is joined by Burton, Creed, and Kligerman as the Dash 4 Cash roster at Dover. It is Custer’s sixth career appearance in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Dash 4 Cash program and his second this season.
The A-Game 200 at Dover Motor Speedway is scheduled for Saturday, April 29 at 1:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1. The race will also be broadcast on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio, channel 90.