Race 8 of 23: Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park Track
Specs: 1.25-mile oval / 160 laps
Weather: Cloudy; 86 degrees
Race Winner: Cole Custer
Custer’s finish: 1st
Cole Custer captured the checkered flag in his No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet Silverado in Saturday night’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park. Custer took advantage of a pair of late cautions, taking the lead on a restart with six laps to go and never giving it back. His win gives JR Motorsports two company victories in only four NASCAR Camping World Truck (NCWTS) series starts. The victory also marked Custer’s second win in 12 career NCWTS starts.
After qualifying was rained out, the field was set by practice
speeds. The No. 00 lined up in second for the start of the race, which was delayed for two hours due to rain showers. When the field finally took the green flag around 10:30 p.m. ET, Custer fought a loose condition early on. The youngster steadied his truck and despite having trouble keeping it in the bottom groove, he maintained a top- five position in the early laps. As a caution flag flew on lap 53, the No. 00 Haas Automation made its way down pit road for the first time, taking four tires and a chassis adjustment. Quick work by the pit crew gained Custer a spot off pit road, an advantage they would earn several times on the night.
Custer continued to fight a loose condition, especially in turn three and four, but always found himself among the top 10. Another caution occurred on Lap 81 and after a pit stop for tires and adjustments, Custer managed a fast restart and shot from seventh to third. With the event’s third caution on lap 91, the pit crew again gained Custer spots, allowing him to line up in second for the ensuing restart. From there, Custer took the lead on lap 100 and held point for the next 13 laps, fighting off Erik Jones for much it. Jones would eventually take the lead for a stretch in the final half of the race.
Custer still fought a loose condition, but continued his strong run with the leaders. With less than 10 laps remaining, a caution came out because of a wreck involving Matt Crafton, a leader for much of the day. Custer proceeded to line up in second for the restart. When the field rumbled to life for the green flag, Custer took full advantage of a poor start by leader Tyler Reddick, jumped on the top spot and set sail to victory in the No. 00 Haas Automation Silverado.
Spencer Gallagher, Johnny Sauter, John Hunter Nemechek and Cameron Hayley rounded out the night’s top-five finishers.
This was Custer’s first victory of 2015 in the No. 00 Haas Automation truck, his first top-10 of the year and his second top-10 finish in two races at Gateway Motorsports Park. This team will be back in action with next week at Iowa Speedway June 19.
Cole Custer, driver No. 00 Haas Automation team
“Coming to that final restart, I was just trying to tell myself, ‘no excuses, just do what you need to do’. I got a pretty good jump and was probably going to be even with the 19, he just missed a shift or something. We were able to get the lead, run some solid laps and finish out the race. We did a good job positioning ourselves toward the end there to be in contention. I always knew we had trucks capable of winning, we just had to put everything together for one race, so big thanks to Joe [Shear Jr., crew chief] and our Haas Automation crew. I can’t thank Gene Haas enough. It’s a great opportunity being a part of this JRM truck program and I’m appreciative to Kelley, Dale Jr. and LW Miller for that, too.”