In the final laps of the Casino Arizona 50 at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday night, Gray Gaulding closed in on runaway leader Cole Custer. With only a single turn to go before the drop of the checkered flag, Gaulding tapped the back of Custer and spun out the leader.
It appeared Custer had lost speed by getting loose when steering into turn 3. Gaulding motored on to his first victory on the K&N Pro Series West tour as Custer dropped to sixth. Gaulding explained the controversial finish by saying, "I was able to catch up to him when he had to go through lapped traffic. I barely touched him, and that's all it takes around here."
Pole-sitter Custer raced his way to an enormous 8.338-second lead just past the 50-lap halfway mark, but a caution flag bunched the field on lap 27. When the cars went back to racing, Custer built more than a second-and-a-half edge over Gaulding with 10 circuits to go. But, that lead gradually narrowed until the fateful conclusion.
Brandon McReynolds, son of former NASCAR Cup crew chief and Fox TV analyst Larry McReynolds, started 20th after bottoming out on his qualifying run but stormed his way to a fifth place finish.
Jesse Little copped second place, while Cameron Hayley was third and David Mayhew fourth. Derek Thorn finished 15th, but it was enough to clinch the series title for 2013.