NASCAR Cup Series

Passing points boost Cole Custer to Bristol Dirt pole

2 Mins read
Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Passing points is a new concept for NASCAR introduced specifically for its dirt heat races such as the Cup Series‘ date at Bristol Motor Speedway, intended to reward drivers for moving through the field by giving a point for each position improved from their starting spot. The winner of their heat received ten qualifying points, second got nine, and so on, with the driver scoring the most combined finish and passing points claiming the pole for the feature.

After the 2021 heats were rained out, the first benefactor of the passing points was Cole Custer as he finished second in his heat race but did so after starting ninth, giving him sixteen total points and the pole for Sunday’s Food City Dirt Race.

The pole is Custer’s first in his third full-time Cup season. The sixteen points topped Christopher Bell‘s fourteen for winning Heat #2 after starting fifth. Tyler Reddick, who won Custer’s qualifying race in Heat #1, improved three spots for thirteen.

“I wish we qualified because I was nervous about starting ninth, but it worked out good,” said Custer. “They did a great job with the track today. It was really racy. Obviously, they added a little bit more moisture than yesterday and hopefully, we can have some more of that tomorrow. I think our car liked it, but overall, it was a good day to start ninth and pass some cars.

“I wouldn’t call myself a dirt racing expert whatsoever. I did it when I was younger. I raced some Ford Focus midgets when I was in my early teens and I always loved dirt, but I wouldn’t say that I’m an expert. I’m nowhere near Kyle Larson, so getting my first pole at a dirt race is pretty crazy.”

Larson, one of the top dirt racers in the country, will start fifth as one of three drivers with eleven qualifying points. Defending winner Joey Logano starts tenth after racking up nine points.

Justin Allgaier, an Xfinity Series regular making a one-off Cup start, qualified twenty-seventh. Starting last is series newcomer Josh Williams.

Race results

Heat #1

148Tyler ReddickRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
2941Cole CusterStewart-Haas RacingFord
3548Alex BowmanHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
436Brad KeselowskiRFK RacingFord
5138Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord
6612Ryan BlaneyTeam PenskeFord
787Corey LaJoieSpire MotorsportsChevrolet
8719Martin Truex Jr.Joe Gibbs RacingToyota
921Ross ChastainTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Cup points

Heat #2

1520Christopher BellJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
2218Kyle BuschJoe Gibbs RacingToyota
3714Chase BriscoeStewart-Haas RacingFord
4334Michael McDowellFront Row MotorsportsFord
5843Erik JonesPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet
6477Justin Allgaier*Spire MotorsportsChevrolet
7999Daniel SuárezTrackhouse Racing TeamChevrolet
814Kevin HarvickStewart-Haas RacingFord
9678Josh Williams*Live Fast MotorsportsFord

Heat #3

1231Justin HaleyKaulig RacingChevrolet
2122Joey LoganoTeam PenskeFord
3417Chris BuescherRFK RacingFord
4645Kurt Busch23XI RacingToyota
583Austin DillonRichard Childress RacingChevrolet
6723Bubba Wallace23XI RacingToyota
7315J.J. Yeley*Rick Ware RacingFord
8916Noah Gragson*Kaulig RacingChevrolet
9511Denny HamlinJoe Gibbs RacingToyota

Heat #4

1242Ty DillonPetty GMS MotorsportsChevrolet
219Chase ElliottHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
365Kyle LarsonHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
4547Ricky Stenhouse Jr.JTG Daugherty RacingChevrolet
5424William ByronHendrick MotorsportsChevrolet
672Austin CindricTeam PenskeFord
7921Harrison BurtonWood Brothers RacingFord
8310Aric AlmirolaStewart-Haas RacingFord
9851Cody WareRick Ware RacingFord

Starting lineup and points

StartDriverTotal Points
1Cole Custer16
2Christopher Bell14
3Tyler Reddick13
4Chase Briscoe12
5Kyle Larson11
6Justin Haley11
7Ty Dillon11
8Alex Bowman10
9Chase Elliott9
10Joey Logano9
11Kyle Busch9
12Austin Dillon9
13Kurt Busch9
14Erik Jones9
15Chris Buescher9
16Ricky Stenhouse Jr.8
17Michael McDowell7
18Brad Keselowski7
19William Byron6
20Austin Cindric6
21Daniel Suárez6
22Bubba Wallace6
23Todd Gilliland6
24Harrison Burton6
25Ryan Blaney5
26Corey LaJoie5
27Justin Allgaier*5
28Noah Gragson*4
29J.J. Yeley*4
30Martin Truex Jr.3
31Aric Almirola3
32Kevin Harvick3
33Ross Chastain2
34Denny Hamlin2
35Cody Ware2
36Josh Williams*2
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About author
Justin is a History major at San Jose State University and lifelong racing fan who has worked for The Checkered Flag since 2018. His coverage mainly focuses on NASCAR, the Stadium Super Trucks, and off-road series like Extreme E and SCORE International. He also dabbles in other disciplines such as IndyCar, rallycross, and sports cars.
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