AVONDALE, AZ – November 6, 2023 – Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer won the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship race at Phoenix on Saturday while Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney won the NASCAR Cup Series championship on Sunday, completing a weekend sweep of both series by Ford Performance and Roush Yates Engines. This weekend also marked the first time an OEM has won the NASCAR Craftsman Truck, Xfinity, and Cup Series championships in the same season since 2001, and the sixth time that has happened in NASCAR history.
“Congratulations to Ford Performance, Team Penske, and Stewart-Haas Racing on the Cup and Xfinity Series championships,” said Doug Yates, President and CEO of Roush Yates Engines. “It’s been a challenging year, but the leadership at Ford Performance, our Ford partnered race teams, and all the employees at Roush Yates Engines continued to work on our racing programs and never gave up! Cole (Custer) and Ryan (Blaney) battled throughout both races and earned their respective championship titles! We are blessed to be a part of the Ford family and provide championship-winning race engines.”
“As much as we’re a car company and we make and sell cars and trucks and we’re out here racing them, we’re also a family company, a people company and it’s all about the people that are racing these cars inside the shop and ultimately the drivers that get it done on track. Those three drivers that had a win this weekend to win a championship, to have Ben Rhodes, Cole Custer and Ryan Blaney as champions for this sport and representing our brand, we’re really proud of what they’ve done. I knew they all could do it and really glad to see them as champions,” commented Mark Rushbrook, Global Director of Ford Performance.
“It was somewhat of an up and down year, but you’re gonna have those moments and through the summer we just worked really hard to get back to where we needed to be and set a deadline for the playoffs and we met that deadline. I’m just super proud of the effort by everybody at Team Penske who put in tons and tons of hours of hard work and nobody really got down. They just put their heads down and decided to really put in a lot of work and it showed up, especially these playoffs and especially the last five weeks. It’s so cool to have all of their hard work pay off, so they should be proud,” commented Blaney.
Ryan Blaney started Sunday’s race in P15, behind fellow championship 4 playoff contenders Christopher Bell, William Byron, and Kyle Larson. The first non-competition caution came out on lap 109 after a brake rotor failure on Christopher Bell’s car ended his day. Stewart-Haas’s Kevin Harvick finished Stage 1 in P2, RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher in P6, and Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney in P10.
RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher went on to win Stage 2, passing Ross Chastain for the lead with 14 laps to go in the stage while Ryan Blaney finished P6. With 31 laps remaining in the race, Blaney restarted sixth while Larson was third and Byron fifth, but the Team Penske driver passed Byron three laps later and then battled Larson before passing him on lap 292 of the 312-lap event. Blaney finished the race in second place, highest of any championship 4 driver, behind Ross Chastain. This year’s race was the first time since NASCAR instituted its winner-take-all final race championship format in 2014 that the winner of the final race of the season was not a driver racing for the title. RFK Racing’s Chris Buescher finished in P5, Stewart-Haas Racing’s Kevin Harvick in P7, and Front Row Motorsports’ Michael McDowell in P9.
Cole Custer started Saturday’s race in P7, second highest of the playoff contenders. As the green flag came out to start stage 2, Custer passed John Hunter Nemechek and maintained the lead throughout the entire stage to take the stage win. In a race that produced eight cautions for a total of 46 laps, Custer led a race-high 96 of 202 laps. The end of the race came down to Cole Custer, Justin Allgaier and John Hunter Nemechek in a three-wide battle for the lead. Custer dove to the inside of the dogleg after starting on the outside during a restart and pulled away while Allgaier and Nemechek battled behind for second. Custer went on to win the race 0.601 seconds ahead of second place Sheldon Creed. Stewart-Haas teammate Riley Herbst finished in P4.
“I thought it was over. I mean, I went from first to third and I was able to shift the car all night and the Doug Yates horsepower worked out and pulled me off the corner. I can’t believe we won that thing after going back to third on that restart, but I can’t say enough about these guys. I mean, we started the year off and it was a struggle and we kind of had to dig deep with each other and really talk about how to get better. To see how much this group has grown through the year and to be a part of something, I knew I wanted to work with JT. I knew that he was the guy that could make it happen and I wouldn’t want to do it with anybody else. I just can’t thank Gene Haas enough. He’s given me opportunities and I wouldn’t be here without him. I can’t thank him enough, and Ford Performance, Haas Automation, everybody at Stewart-Haas Racing. It’s awesome to bring one back to Stewart-Haas right now. Man, I’m gonna enjoy this. I’ve been waiting to hear Wayne on the radio for a few times now, so I’m pumped,” commented Cole Custer.
39 CHAMPIONSHIPS – 458 WINS – 420 POLES
About Roush Yates Engines
Roush Yates Engines is a leading-edge engine development company based in Mooresville, NC consisting of two state-of-the-art facilities – Roush Yates Engines and Roush Yates Manufacturing Solutions, a world class AS9100 Rev D/ISO 13485 certified CNC manufacturing facility. The company’s core business includes designing, building and testing purpose-built race engines.
Ford Performance in partnership with Roush Yates Engines is the exclusive engine builder of the NASCAR FR9 Ford V8 engine and Ford Mustang 5.2L V8 engine, used in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series.
With an unparalleled culture of winning and steeped in rich racing history, Roush Yates Engines continues to follow the company’s vision to lead performance engine innovation and staying true to the company’s mission, provide race winning engines through demonstrated power and performance.