It’s possible Cole Custer slowed down on purpose to help teammate Chase Briscoe advance in the NASCAR playoffs
On Sunday, NASCAR visited the Charlotte Motor Speedway Road Course. The 17-turn Roval layout brought chaos.
In the closing laps, Austin Dillon got into the bumper of Chase Briscoe into the backstretch chicane. As Briscoe went around, his chance of advancing in the playoff was looking grim. Before the spin, he looked like an easy lock to advance.
A caution flag came out with 2 laps to go. At the time, Briscoe sat 10th on the playoff board, 9 points below the cut line. Kyle Larson sat +7 to the cutline but after suffering a mechanical problem, Larson was trapped several laps down with no way to to gain positions.
Ahead of the restart, Briscoe hit the pit lane for fresh tires. He was set for one last kamikazee run from the back of the pack.
As the green dropped, six cars tangled into turn one. Suddenly, Briscoe was just 6 points below the cutline.
Cindric sat 1 point below the cutline. However, Erik Jones got into Cindric into turn 8, sending him around. As Briscoe drove by Cindric, he was now just 5 points below cutline.
Teammates helping each other advance?
With 1 lap to go, Briscoe was up to 11th. Now, he’s tied with Larson at the cutline. Ahead of Briscoe sat Erik Jones and Briscoe’s teammate, Cole Custer. Briscoe was all over the bumper of Jones, desperate for the position.
Briscoe worked under Jones as they entered turn one of the oval. At the same time, Austin Dillon worked inside of Briscoe. They ran three wide but Briscoe couldn’t give up a position as he would be at risk of playoff elimination. Yet, Dillon got by.
As they entered the backstretch chicane, Cole Custer checked up way early. It caught Dillon off guard, he lifted. Briscoe stayed in the gas, dove to the inside and cleared them both.
Custer threw blocks as they exited turn 12 and he was spun out just a few corners later. Briscoe drove off to finish 9th.
Briscoe advanced into the playoffs. Larson was eliminated by just two points.
NASCAR to review the final lap
After the race, NASCAR stated they intend to review the final lap. Specifically, they’re going to review the incident with Cole Custer heading into the backstretch chicane.
It’s possible that Custer purposefully checked up early to help teammate Chase Briscoe.
“NASCAR is reviewing data, video and radio transmissions from the 41 car following its incident on the backstretch during the final lap,” the statement read. “NASCAR will communicate the results of the review early this week. Any potential penalties would not affect the Round of 8 field.”
NASCAR says that any possible penalties would not alter the playoff field.
Chase Briscoe comments
“I told my guys before the race, there’s a difference between thinking we can move on and knowing we can move on,” Briscoe told NBC Sports.
“I knew we could move on. This team never gives up. It took every bit of it there at the end.”
“I had no idea we were even going to have a shot. Truthfully, I knew that we were probably out. I saw the No. 2 wreck and thought, maybe we still have a chance.”
“I had so much fresher tires than everyone else. And they pumped them way up to qualifying pressures. Just letting me go attack and have the ball in my hands.”
“Looking forward to the Round of 8, a lot of really good race tracks for me.”
“Dirt guys, sprint car guys, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, you’re slipping and sliding so much cause you got more power than you can typically put down. It’s similar to a sprint car. The sprint car background definitely helps when you come to a place like this. Cool to see a sprint car guy win and another move on into the playoffs.”
Kyle Larson disappointed
Kyle Larson suffered a broken toe link after getting loose and tagging the wall. The crew made repairs but the driver was unable to advance.
“When you give up that many spots, you know you’re going to be close,” Larson said after the race.
“I just made way too many mistakes, all year long. Made another one today and ultimately cost us an opportunity to go chase another championship.”
Larson added, “Extremely mad at myself and let the team down, a number of times this year. Let them down in a big way today.”
NASCAR Cup Series
1. Chase Elliott
2. Christopher Bell
3. Ryan Blaney
4. Joey Logano
5. Denny Hamlin
6. William Byron
7. Ross Chastain
8. Chase Briscoe
— Eliminated from Playoffs —
9. Kyle Larson
10. Daniel Suarez
11. Austin Cindric
12. Alex Bowman