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Cole Custer at Miami
Chris Trotman | Getty Images

Custer knows what he needs to do after ‘bittersweet’ 2018 season

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Finishing a race second is tough; finishing a season second is an accomplishment for 20-year-old Stewart-Haas Racing Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer.

Custer said slipping to second in the season-finale Ford EcoBoost 300 after leading 95 laps in the No. 00 Ford was rough, but to have a championship in his sights and a season with one win and six poles was rewarding, culminating in a bittersweet Championship Weekend but a proud NASCAR Xfinity Series Awards banquet.

MORE: Scenes from red carpet

Custer is losing crew chief Jeff Meendering, who will be Brandon Jones’ crew chief with the No. 19 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota in the Xfinity Series next season. He doesn’t know yet who will be atop his pit box.

“I’m not smart enough to know what the cars need, so I’ll leave that to people who are,” Custer said, saying he’s not too concerned about the unknown. “I know what I need to do to get better, and we’ll get the communication going right and be.”

As for his own list of what to focus on for 2019 … Custer is clear.

“I need to get better at short tracks; we were a little weaker there. And I need to focus on closing in on the end of races. We had the speed and a lot of top fives, I just need to close them out.”

MORE: Recap Custer’s 2018 season