Custer tops balanced top five in first NXS practice

Cole+Custer%2C+driver+of+the+No.+00+Jacob+Companies+Ford+for+Stewart-Haas+Racing%2C+finished+first+in+the+first+NASCAR+Xfinity+Series+practice+with+a+top+speed+of+178.218+mph%2C+good+enough+for+a+time+of+31.108+seconds.+No+manufacturer+dominated+the+top+five%2C+but+Chevy+had+nine+drivers+finish+in+the+top+15.

Shelby Foster

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Jacob Companies Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, finished first in the first NASCAR Xfinity Series practice with a top speed of 178.218 mph, good enough for a time of 31.108 seconds. No manufacturer dominated the top five, but Chevy had nine drivers finish in the top 15.

Rilee Stapleton, Editor-in-Chief

In the the first NASCAR Xfinity Series practice of the day, Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Jacob Companies Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing, topped all other drivers with a top speed of 178.218 mph and a time of 31.108 seconds.

“We know that the track is going to get more rubber down, which is going to make it slicker, harder to drive,” fourth place finisher Justin Allgaier, driver of the No. 7 Cessna Chevrolet for JR Motorsports, said. “So we want to focus in on most race like conditions we can, which is usually the end of the second practice.”

Finishing behind Custer was Christopher Bell, driver of the No. 20 Rheem Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, who finished with a top speed of 176.989 mph and a time of 31.324 seconds. In third, Justin Haley in the No. 11 LeafFilter Gutter Protection Chevrolet for Kaulig Racing, topped at 176.555 mph with a time of 31.401 seconds. Rounding out the top five was Jeffrey Earnhardt in the No. 18 iK9 Toyota, with a top speed of 176.045 mph and a time of 31.492 seconds.

“Hopefully, we can be fast, be a contender, that’s the biggest thing,” John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the No. 23 Fire Alarm Services Inc. Chevrolet for GMS Racing, said. “You want to be a contender you want to be able to run up front.”

While the top five finishers displayed a healthy mix of manufacturers, Chevrolet managed to dominate the top-15 with nine drivers. Haley being the highest finisher of the bunch.

Georgia native Brandon Jones in the No. 19 Menards/Jeld-Wen Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing had a great practice, finishing in sixth. Jones’ top speed was 175.883 mph and he boasted a time of 31.521 seconds. McIntosh graduate Garrett Smithley, in the No. 0 teamjdmotorsports.com Chevrolet for JD Motorsports, had a respectable practice, finishing in the middle of the field at 20th. His top speed of 170.537 mph earned a time of 32.509 seconds.

“We’re not too far off and with this track,” Smithley said.  “After two or three laps, the tires are gone anyway so we want to maintain that speed and see what we can do there.”

The next NXS practice session is this afternoon at 3:05 p.m.

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