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Cole Custer Notches 19th Career Xfinity Series Pole at Las Vegas

Photo Credit: Craig White, TobyChristie.com

Cole Custer, the defending champion of the NASCAR Xfinity Series, has always been a machine in qualifying for the second-tier series, a trend which continued on Friday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway with his triumph for the first intermediate race of the 2024 season.

The Ladera Ranch, California native, driving the No. 00 Production Alliance Group Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing, picked up his 19th career pole in the series, and his third at the 1.5-mile facility in Las Vegas, Nevada with a lap time of 29.788 seconds (181.291mph).

For the 26-year-old driver chasing his second title, the gap between him and second-place Chandler Smith was only 0.017 seconds. Smith, making his third start for Joe Gibbs Racing in the No. 81, dominated last season’s event at Las Vegas, before getting passed late in the going.

AJ Allmendinger, returning to the NASCAR Xfinity Series full-time in 2024, was third-fastest, with an incredible lap by Parker Retzlaff and Jordan Anderson Racing placing the No. 31 Chevrolet Camaro in fourth place. Austin Hill, the winner of the first two races of the year, rounded out the top five.

Ryan Sieg and Parker Kligerman both had strong qualifying runs in sixth and seventh place, while Sammy Smith, Sheldon Creed, and Aric Almirola, in the first race of his Joe Gibbs Racing return, completed the top-10.

Riley Herbst, the winner of the Xfinity Series event at Las Vegas in the Fall, was 11th-quickest, with NASCAR Cup Series driver John Hunter Nemechek in 12th. Brandon Jones, the quickest car in Xfinity Series practice earlier in the afternoon, was 13th with his teammate Sam Mayer in 14th.

Jesse Love, who made history last week at Atlanta Motor Speedway by winning the pole in his first two NASCAR Xfinity Series starts, failed to continue his streak to Las Vegas, qualifying in 15th.

Shane van Gisbergen, making his first start on a true intermediate facility, qualified in 25th place, after losing more than half of his 20-minute practice session due to inspection issues. However, van Gisbergen’s teammate, Josh Williams, faired even worse, qualifying outside the top-30, in 32nd.

Justin Allgaier was poised to have a strong performance in qualifying when the right-rear tire on his No. 7 BRANDT Fresh Agriculture Chevrolet went flat, causing him to nearly crash in the second corner. Luckily, the series veteran saved it and managed to nurse his car back to the pit road.

Qualifying Results: NXS The LiUNA! at Las Vegas

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