LOUDON, N.H. (AP) — Cole Custer’s first stand as a NASCAR winner landed him in the stock car record book.
Custer became the youngest winner in a NASCAR national series race at 16, taking the checkered flag at New Hampshire in his seventh career Truck Series start.
Custer dominated early and pulled away late off the final restart Saturday to win at 16 years, 7 months, 28 days. He set a track record of 131.897 mph to win the pole and led 148 of the 175 laps for his fifth top-10 of the season.
“This is a pretty special race for our team,” Custer said. “I just love this track. The fans are awesome. It was always one of my favorite tracks growing up. I can’t believe I get to come here and go to Victory Lane.”
Darrell Wallace Jr., Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and John Nemechek completed the top five.
Last November in Phoenix, Erik Jones was the youngest winner in Truck Series history, winning at 17 years, 4 months.
His stint in the record book was short- lived.
Custer had control of the race until a final pit stop dropped the No. 00 Chevrolet from the lead into seventh with 20 laps left. Custer was helped by pair of late cautions that allowed him to stay close to the leaders. He took shortly after the final restart with five laps left, seizing it from Crafton who had rallied from the back of the field, to take the lead.
Custer had enough to make one last stand for the victory.
“When I got back there, I was able to get my timing down on the restarts,” Custer said. “It was just trying to hold (Wallace) off for the win.”
Already in NASCAR competition, Custer has set records as the youngest winner in Pro Series history by scoring his first win at Iowa on Aug. 2, 2013, at 15 years, 6 months, 10 days. He followed that up this season by becoming the youngest pole winner in national touring series history at 16 years, 4 months, 22 days at Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Illinois.
Custer is the son of Stewart-Haas Racing executive vice president Joe Custer and was raised around the racetrack. He started racing when he was 5 and quickly rose through the ranks all the way to the Truck Series.
“I’ve been going since I was real young,” he said.
Crafton leads the season standings by seven points over Sauter. Wallace also remained in the championship hunt with his ninth top-10 of the season.
“I’m not worried about the championship,” Wallace said. “I’ll let the crew worry about that. I’m just trying to win races.”