JR Motorsports makes its Truck Series debut this weekend with Custer Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live " Practice results Powering his No. 00 Chevrolet at 96.068 mph, Cole Custer soared to the top of the leaderboard during Friday's NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice at Martinsville Speedway . This weekend marks the 17-year-old's first start with Dale Earnhardt Jr .'s JR Motorsports, the team making its initial foray into the Truck Series this season. ThorSport Racing 's Cameron Hayley made a late run for the runner-up spot, claiming the second position on the leaderboard with a high speed of 95.622 mph. His teammate Johnny Sauter also made a late run at the Virgina track and posted the third-fastest speed (95.530 mph). Joey Logano , who is stepping into the No. 29 driver's seat for Brad Keselowski Racing this weekend, wheeled around the paperclip oval fourth-fastest at 95.415 mph. Logano's teammate for the weekend, Tyler Reddick, rounded out the top five with a high speed of 95.410 mph. Just shy of a top-five speed was Erik Jones , who is back in his No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports ride. Two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton showed initial speed in his No. 88 ThorSport Racing ride, but came up short, posting the 15th-fastest speed in the field. The first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice was canceled due to inclement weather, so this session will serve as the series' only practice this weekend. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is back on the track on Saturday at 11:15 a.m. for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying with coverage on FOX Sports 1. MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR Illustrated's Steven Levine sits down to catch up with NASCAR Next driver, Cole Custer .
17-year-old held lead late, but spin-out took him out of contention PLAY: NASCAR Fantasy Live RELATED: Full race results " See the dramatic closing laps MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- NASCAR's oldest national-series track often shines its light on veterans, sometimes chewing up newbies like so many hot dogs coming from the infield concession stand. Cole Custer , though, nearly turned conventional wisdom on its head, almost converting an amazing comeback at the tender age of 17. Custer , making just his first start of the season and his 10th NASCAR Camping World Truck Series appearance overall, nearly sewed up some Martinsville magic in Saturday afternoon's Kroger 250 , rallying twice from pit-road penalties to become a contender for the victory in the final laps. Custer actually sprang to the top of the scoring pylon with four laps left in regulation with a bold, full-contact move to get past veterans Matt Crafton and Joey Logano . But the teenager was far from home free, anticipating payback from one of the two. Crafton delivered with a series of bumps, sending the youngster spinning to bring out one final caution flag and send the race to overtime. From there, Custer limped home with what he figured was a damaged rear gear to finish 16th as the final truck on the lead lap. "I knew he was going to come back for me, though," Custer said after emerging from his battered No. 00 Chevrolet, the first truck series effort for JR Motorsports. "You know, he did it respectfully and I just gave him all I had to stay up there. … It's Martinsville. You're going to beat and bang for the win. It's what it is." Custer started second alongside eventual race winner Logano but faced an unexpected deficit early on because of pit-road penalties. Custer's No. 00 was flagged for speeding in a 36th-lap exchange of pit stops, then was tagged again on Lap 143 of a scheduled 250 for exceeding the limit again. The repeat offense had both Custer and crew chief Joe Shear Jr. scratching their heads, especially since Custer said he was never over their target RPMs on the tachometer. Either way, Custer methodically marched from the tail end of the field, helped by the second set of eyes and advice provided by spotter Eddie D'Hondt -- Jeff Gordon 's spotter in the Sprint Cup Series. Custer was characteristically stoic on the team communications Saturday, but the encouragement from Shear and D'Hondt made all the difference. "Eddie's helped me a lot this weekend," Custer said. "That's a big reason why we were fast. Joe brought a great truck to the race track, and I was happy with the day. Didn't get the finish, but at least we were fast. It was a big step up from last year for me, so we'll come back here in the fall, and I think we'll have something, too." He almost had something Saturday, gaining on front-runners Crafton and Logano as their battle for the lead became more heated as the laps wound down. By the time 10 laps remained, it was a free-for-all that went from a two-horse race to three. While the two veterans ahead of him scrapped and scraped, Custer saw opportunity, driving hard into the corner entry to push both trucks up the race track. Custer dove low beneath both Crafton and Logano to squirt out in front, and D'Hondt keyed his mic: "Don't you look in that mirror! I got it." Had he looked, he would have seen that Crafton's bright No. 88 Toyota was coming full-bore and that Logano's No. 29 Ford had recovered nicely, too. Crafton, the two-time defending Camping World Truck Series champ, laid the bumper to the youngster multiple times in the 248th lap, forcing Custer to lose control, spin and stall as he brushed into the lead. "I was kind of nervous," Custer said after suddenly rising to the top spot. "I didn't know there were so many laps left. I thought there were only a couple laps left, so I thought if I could get in front, I could've stayed there. Matt was just a little bit better than us and could catch us, and I deserved to get punted back." Crafton described Custer's pass for the lead with the words "pounded" and "pile-drove" but chalked up the contact to the nature of short-track racing. Logano wasn't displeased with how their run-in eventually unfolded. "With inside 10 (laps) to go, I heard that he was coming, but I heard that he was about 3 or 4 (truck-lengths) back," Logano said of Custer's late charge. "The next thing you know, here he comes banzai-ing in there and takes both of us up the race track. I haven't seen a replay yet or not, but my initial reaction I was really mad, and I guess I wasn't disappointed to see what I saw." Though Custer was powerless to mount an improbable third comeback to the front, Shear commended his young driver on the cool-down lap: "They knew that we were here." Martinsville remains the only track where Custer has multiple truck series starts, and Shear said he noticed the difference from his earlier efforts. He also noticed how Custer kept his composure at a track that usually riles up even the most patient drivers. "He's young still. He'll learn how to flip out like the rest of these Cup drivers someday," Shear said with a laugh. "But no, he did a good job with that. He could've easily gotten rattled and torn up even worse than he did, so he did a fantastic job. He's definitely a really mature kid for his age, and I'm proud to work with him." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
After finishing 16th, Cole Custer breaks down his eventful day at Martinsville Speedway.
Youngest national series winner will be age-eligible to run full time next season
After leading over 140 laps, Cole Custer had to battle his way through traffic on several late-race restarts to earn his first career NCWTS victory.
Cole Custer is left with heavy damage after slamming into the No. 20 and 21 trucks entering Turn 1.
Alan Cavanna talks with Cole Custer in Victory Lane following his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Cole Custer celebrates as youngest NCWTS winner at just 16 years 7 months and 28 days old.
Cole Custer says he had to get a little rough battling his way through the field en route to his first career NCWTS victory.