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XFINITY CONTENDERS SHAKE-OFF THE PLAYOFF RUST AT TMS
FORT WORTH, Texas (November 3, 2017)
Following the final off-week of the 2017 season, the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoff contenders rolled onto Texas Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval at 2 p.m. (CDT) Friday to begin preparations for the second race of their Round of 8 (Charlotte, Texas and Phoenix). The top four drivers at the conclusion of the Round of 8 will advance into the Championship 4 for a shot at the title at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Justin Allgaier has a two-point lead (3,066-3,064) over William Byron, with Elliott Sadler (3,055) and Brennan Poole (3,038) rounding out the top 4 following the most recent event at Kansas Speedway. The four drivers needing to ratchet-it-up here and/or Phoenix Raceway next weekend are Matt Tifft (3,033), Ryan Reed (3,032), Daniel Hemric (3,032) and Cole Custer (3,030).
While none of the Playoff contenders have won at TMS in the XFINITY Series, here are their career average finishing positions: Custer (5.0), Byron (7.0) Sadler (11.6), Allgaier (12.4), Tifft (12.7) Reed (14.9), Poole (19.3) and Hemric (32.0).
Custer said his game plan for Saturday night’s O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 is all-encompassing. “It’s just about doing everything right and trying to get as many points as you can,” said Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang. “I think everyone has seen how important stage points are in these playoffs. It’s really important. You can’t make mistakes. If you want to solidify your spot in the Championship 4 here, you have to try to make sure you don’t take yourself out of it. You can’t win it here but you can take yourself out of it for sure.”
In 30 starts this season, Custer has posted five top-fives and 16 top-10s. In his series debut at Texas earlier this season, Custer started sixth and finished fifth. His quickest route into the Championship 4 will be, of course, with a win.
“Yeah, even though we had some bad luck and cut a tire with three to go (at Kansas), we have had a lot of speed all year,” Custer said. “I don’t think there’s any reason why we can’t get ourselves out of this hole. You can make up points really fast, especially with stage points. As long as we do what we need to do and not make any mistakes we’ll be fine. We ran good here earlier in the year and we’re bringing something similar back. so I’m looking forward to it. Phoenix is a good place for us. We’ve learned a lot on our short-track stuff and feel pretty confident going to Phoenix, too.”