• BMR Drivers Custer, Drake Finish First & Third In K&N Pro Series East Action
RICHMOND, Va. (April 26, 2014) – Cole Custer took the lead from his Bill McAnally Racing teammate Nick Drake near the midway point of the Blue Ox 100 and pulled away to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway on Saturday.
Drake, who had won his first career pole in qualifying the day before, finished third in the event – which had been postponed from Friday night due to rain.
The delay did not slow the two BMR teams, as they ran 1-2 from the drop of the green flag, with Drake out front in the No. 15 NAPA AUTO PARTS Toyota and Custer close behind in the No. 00 NAPA AUTO PARTS/HAAS Automation entry. Custer worked his way around Drake on the outside, following a restart just before the midway point of the race. He went on to win by a margin of .177 seconds over Ben Rhodes. Drake was close behind in third.
“We just road behind Nick for a long time,” said Custer, who had started on the front row alongside Drake. “On the first restart I was tail-whipping, I was spinning the tires so bad. On the next one I was able to get it figured out and get a good run and get to the lead.”
Once out front, the 16-year-old from Ladera Ranch, Calif., was focused on setting a good pace around the 3/4-mile D-shaped oval.
“Up front, I wasn’t saving as much as I was before,” said Custer, who had finished third as a rookie last year in his only previous start at Richmond. “It’s really hard when you’re in the lead to know how much to save. I was going pretty hard, slipping the tires a little bit. Ben caught me a little bit. I thought he was going to get me. I thought I went way too early, but we were able to hold on.”
This marks the second victory in three NASCAR K&N Pro Series races this year for Custer, who kicked off his 2014 effort by winning the K&N West season opener at Phoenix International Raceway in February.
Drake’s third-place finish was a career-best mark for the 18-year-old series rookie from Mooresville, N.C.
“We led about half the race,” said Drake, who was making his first start at Richmond. “Cole got around us on that restart. Then, Ben got around us on the restart after that. It seemed like once we got strung out by a couple of car lengths, we were all so close we couldn’t run each other down. The track was pretty green and we just couldn’t run those guys down at the end. We were okay if we were in the lead. I felt like whoever was leading was going to stay out front just due to the fact that there was no grip in the track. I’ll take a third. It was a good day for our Bill McAnally Racing team.”
With his finish, Drake moved into a tie for second in Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings and up to ninth in the overall championship standings, with five of the 16 races complete on this year’s schedule.
Custer – who on Friday was one of 12 drivers named by NASCAR to its 2014 class for the NASCAR Next program – is racing select events in the East and West divisions of the K&N Pro Series this year, while also racing a limited schedule in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. His Richmond victory gives him three wins, two poles, six top fives and seven top 10s in 16 career K&N East starts. He made his debut in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with 12th-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway last month.
Drake, who was coming off a 16th-place finish at Greenville (S.C.) Pickens Speedway in March, has two top fives in five career K&N East starts – all this season. He also competed in the K&N West race at Phoenix, where he finished third.
The Blue Ox 100 will air on FOX Sports 1 on May 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET.
The next event on the series schedule is the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway in Newton, Iowa on May 17. Custer scored his first career series victory in winning the combo race at Iowa last August.