The NASCAR Xfinity Series’ second trip to Portland International Raceway was the complete opposite of the first, bone-dry, with not a single drop of rain falling on the Portland, Oregon road course.
Even without the aid of a slick track, Saturday’s Pacific Office Automation 147 was a barn-burner, with the NASCAR Xfinity Series field putting on an incredible show around the 1.967-mile road course.
In the end, it was Cole Custer that prevailed in the first of two straight road course events for the second-tier series, taking advantage of pure chaos in NASCAR Overtime to pick up his first win of the season, and the 11th of his Xfinity Series career.
Custer, who returned to the Xfinity Series this year with Stewart-Haas Racing, was forced to start from the rear of the field in Saturday’s event, after his team made unapproved adjustments to his No. 00 Ford Mustang.
The Ladera Ranch, California-native methodically worked his way through the pack as the race progressed, before putting himself in position to sit inside the top five as the race approached its scheduled conclusion.
On the race’s final restart, Custer, sitting in fifth place, was able to take advantage of a mistake heading into the first corner by Parker Kligerman, who locked his brakes and sent the top-three drivers wide in the chicane.
Kligerman would drop into the clutches of the mid-field, while Allgaier and Creed would emerge out the other side of the penalty course running in second and third place, with time still to close on Custer, the race’s new leader.
Creed, who led a race-high 47 laps in Saturday’s event, would later get shoved off-track coming to the white flag, losing him track position to compete for the victory. However, Allgaier was able to stay within range of the No. 00.
Throughout the final lap, the winner of Monday’s event at Charlotte Motor Speedway drew closer and closer to the race leader and even got directly to the rear bumper, but didn’t pull anything over-aggressive to spin or move Custer.
Allgaier came home in second place, just over one-tenth of a second behind the eventual winner, Cole Custer, who locks himself into the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs, as the JR Motorsports driver did last weekend at Charlotte.
Sam Mayer recovered from starting at the rear of the field to finish in third place, while Josh Berry and Austin Hill completed the race’s top-five finishers.
Despite a mid-race spin, Myatt Snider rebounded to finish in sixth place, driving in his second scheduled event for Joe Gibbs Racing. Sheldon Creed would drop back to seventh place in his Richard Childress Racing entry.
Connor Mosack finished in eighth, despite making an over-aggressive move on the first lap of the race and making significant contact with Chandler Smith, who was able to rebound from that and a couple of other incidents to finish ninth.
Miraculously, John Hunter Nemechek recorded a finish of 10th, after a number of late-race on-track incidents. The first of which, was retaliation by Sheldon Creed, after the Joe Gibbs Racing driver dumped him for a stage win.
The second incident, which put him a lap behind the leaders, came with his teammate Sammy Smith, who crashed into him hard entering the first corner. Then, a couple corners later, Nemechek found Smith, and didn’t appreciate the on-track happenings.
After making the aggressive three-wide move on the race’s final restart, Parker Kligerman folded back into the mid-pack, finishing 14th after running inside the top-five throughout the majority of the afternoon.
Leaving Portland, the NASCAR Xfinity Series is scheduled to head to its second straight west coast road course at Sonoma Raceway, where a number of NASCAR Cup Series drivers are scheduled to race in order to gain experience on the two-mile course.
John Hunter Nemechek has retained the lead in the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series point standings, sitting 14 points ahead of Austin Hill. Justin Allgaier, Cole Custer, and Josh Berry round out the top five in series standings.