Rookie Cole Custer wins first Cup Series race at Kentucky Speedway

July 12 (UPI) -- NASCAR Cup Series rookie Cole Custer executed a daring four-wide pass on the final lap to win Sunday's Quaker State 400 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Ky.

With the victory, Custer became the first Cup Series rookie in almost four years to win a race.


Martin Truex Jr. and Kevin Harvick were dueling for the lead on the lap 266 final restart when Custer -- who restarted fifth with two laps to go -- used a push from Matt DiBenedetto to slide in front of the field. Custer outlasted Truex by a mere .271 seconds to earn the win.

"I knew I just had to get to the top," Custer said. "The top rolled pretty good and once I got past and I was like in third I was like, 'I've just got to take a shot and do whatever I can here.'

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"And it ended up the 4 [Harvick] and the 19 [Truex] got together a little bit and I was able to take advantage of it."

Custer, 22, earned his first victory in his 20th Cup Series start. He is the first rookie to win a non-rain-shortened race since Juan Pablo Montoya in 2007. Chris Buescher won a rain-shortened race as a rookie in August 2016.

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Brad Keselowski (2009), Trevor Bayne (2011) and Justin Haley (2019) also won while not racing full seasons. All three would have been considered rookies had they been competing a full year.

DiBenedetto came in third, followed by Harvick in fourth and Kurt Busch in fifth. Ryan Blaney (sixth), rookie Christopher Bell (seventh), Aric Almirola (eighth), Keselowski (ninth) and rookie Tyler Reddick (10th) rounded out the top 10. It marked the first time in NASCAR history that three rookies finished in the top 10 in a race.


The Cup Series' next event is the non-points NASCAR All-Star Race on Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway. The next points-paying race in the Cup Series is set for Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway.

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