COLE CUSTER – 2018 Talladega I Race Advance

Event:               Sparks Energy 300 (Round 8 of 33)
Date:                 April 28, 2018
Location:          Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway     
Layout:             2.66-mile oval

 

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

 

  • Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300 will mark Cole Custer’s third Xfinity Series start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
  • Custer is competing for his seventh consecutive top-10 finish of the season. He ranks second in the series in top-10s this season.
  • Custer leads the Xfinity Series with an average starting position of 5.1.
  • No Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are eligible to race in the Sparks Energy 300 Xfinity Series race at Talladega.
  • Custer’s best finish in the seven Xfinity Series races run this season is his fourth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
  • Custer has one win, nine top-five finishes, 27 top-10s and has led 350 laps in 46 career Xfinity Series starts.
  • Custer is sixth in the Xfinity Series driver standings with 181 points, 47 behind leader Elliot Sadler.
  • Custer will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Chase Briscoe in the No. 98 Ford Performance Ford Mustang.
  • Custer has earned two consecutive pole awards, six consecutive top-10s, one top-five and has led 48 laps thus far in the 2018 season.
  • Last weekend at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Custer led the first 43 laps of the Richmond 250 and finished sixth.
  • The top-four finishers in last weekend’s Richmond 250 are eligible for the Dash 4 Cash at Talladega. The top finisher of the four drivers will win a $100,000 cash prize. Custer competed in the Dash 4 Cash at Bristol but was two positions short in Richmond to qualify this weekend.
  • Custer has competed in six restrictor-plate races – one this season in the Xfinity Series at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and two last year at Daytona and Talladega. He also competed once at each track in the Camping World Truck Series and once at Daytona in the ARCA Series. His best Truck Series finish was 24th at Daytona and his best ARCA finish was 10th at Daytona.

 

Cole Custer, Driver Q&A

 

Do you enjoy close-quarter superspeedway racing?

“It’s fun to go superspeedway racing just because it’s something so different than what we usually do. You’re on the edge of your seat every single lap and your adrenaline levels are so high, so it’s fun to have that challenge”

How do you position yourself for success at Talladega?

“It’s almost impossible to come up with a good strategy for Talladega because it gets so crazy, but it seems like the best thing is to try and stay up front and out of trouble. You never know when a huge wreck will erupt and you always have to keep your head on a swivel to try and avoid it. Sometimes a good finish at Talladega comes down to pure luck if you can’t lead every lap.”

Have you grown in your ability to draft and pack race with the Xfinity Series cars since last year?

“I feel like I’ve definitely gotten better at pack racing. Daytona was pretty big for me because we got to run all the laps and get some experience. It was a learning curve competing to the Xfinity cars for the first time last year, but I think I’ve grown a lot in my ability and I’m looking forward to navigating my way through traffic if I have to.”

 

Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A

 

What are your thoughts and expectations on racing at Talladega?

“Superspeedway racing bit us every race since we started last season, so going in with a points cushion takes a lot of pressure off. We are bringing chassis No. 719, which we raced in Daytona last year. It has a new front clip and our body shop hung a really good looking updated body on it. Hopefully we can turn our speedway luck around this weekend.”

What does the car need to perform to the highest standard at Talladega?

“With the restricted engines, it’s essential that everything in the driveline is moving free with the least amount of friction. We use Mobil 1 engine oil, Mobil 1 gear lube in the transmission and rear gear, and Mobil 1 grease in the hubs. Having a technical partner like Mobil 1 is an extreme advantage for our team – especially at restrictor plate races when everything has to run perfectly to turn quick laps.”

CHASE BRISCOE – 2018 Talladega I Race Advance

Event:               Sparks Energy 300 (Round 9 of 33)
Date:                 April 28, 2018
Location:          Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway  
Layout:             2.66-mile oval

Chase Briscoe Notes of Interest 

 

  • Chase Briscoe will start his second race in the No. 98 Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste (SHR) Ford Performance Mustang Saturday afternoon at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
  • As a member of the Ford Performance Driver Development Program, Briscoe also will race the SHR Mustang May 26 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway’s 1.5-mile oval, Sept. 29 on Charlotte’s “roval,” and Oct. 20 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Briscoe has an additional 12 Xfinity Series races with Roush Fenway Racing in 2018, as well as several sportscar races.
  • Briscoe will be joined in the Talladega field by SHR teammate Cole Custer in the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang.
  • The 98 Ford makes its fifth appearance of 2018 at Talladega. Aric Almirola finished 35th Feb. 17 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Kevin Harvick won Feb. 24 at Atlanta Motor Speedway and finished 19th at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth April 7. Briscoe finished 23rd at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in his SHR debut April 13.
  • Briscoe has made four starts in Xfinity Series competition this season. He finished 15th at Atlanta and 11th at Texas, 22nd at Bristol and 26th at Richmond (Va.) Raceway last weekend.
  • In 2017 Truck Series competition, Briscoe earned four poles and won the season-ending Ford EcoBoost 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Briscoe’s 10 top-five finishes and 14 top-10s enabled him to make the Truck Series playoffs, where he finished sixth in points and scored the series’ rookie of the year and most popular driver awards.
  • Briscoe won six races en route to the 2016 ARCA Series championship.
  • Briscoe finished 22nd in his lone start in Truck Series competition at Talladega Oct. 14, 2017. He finished third in his lone ARCA start at Talladega April 29, 2016.
  • The 23-year-old Mitchell, Indiana native is a third-generation driver. His grandfather Richard Briscoe is a legendary Sprint car team owner, and his father Kevin Briscoe raced Sprint cars for more than 20 years and won more than 150 feature events.
  • Briscoe’s first time behind the wheel of a racecar came in 2001 in a Quarter Midget. In 37 starts driving 410 Sprint cars, Briscoe racked up eight top-fives and 17 top-10s, including a win in the last race of the season, where he broke Jeff Gordon’s record as being the youngest driver (13) to win a 410 Sprint car race.

 Chase Briscoe Quotes:

 

 What are your thoughts on Talladega?

 “Talladega is its own animal. There is so much out of your control there. I have had decent success at the (restrictor)-plate races, but they aren’t my favorite, by any means. The No. 98 Ford is really fast on the plate stuff. I think we are going to be really good. You just have to stay out of trouble there. That’s the name of the game. If you are running on the white-flag lap, then you still have a chance.”

CLINT BOWYER – 2018 Richmond I Race Report

Event:               Richmond 400 (Round 9 of 36)
Series:               Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format:             400 laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/200 laps)
Note:                Race ended in overtime, going two laps past its scheduled 400-lap distance
Start/Finish:      16th/9th(Running, completed 402 of 402 laps in overtime)
Point Standing:3rdwith 329 points, 86 points out of first

Race Winner:    Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):

  • Clint Bowyer started 16thand finished fifth.
  • Bowyer started slowly, but the No. 14 began moving up as the stage ran without caution.
  • Over the final 40 laps, Bowyer’s was the fastest car on the track. He moved to eighth by lap 75.
  • Passed two more cars in the closing laps to claim fifth at the stage end.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):

  • Bowyer started fifth and finished second.
  • Moved to fourth on lap 131 and to third 10 laps later.
  • Took over the lead on lap 169. Led 23 laps in a stage that also ran without caution.
  • Held the lead until the final laps of the stage when a loose-handling condition kept him from fending off Joey Logano. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400):

  • Bowyer started third and finished ninth.
  • Moved to second on lap 235 while turning the fastest lap times on the track.
  • Took over the lead for a second time in the race on lap 252.
  • Made a scheduled pit stop on lap 273 for tires and fuel.
  • Several cautions in the final laps led to frenetic racing that damaged Bowyer’s Ford and left him with a ninth-place finish.

Notes:

  • Bowyer finished fifth in Stage 1 to earn six bonus points and second in Stage 2 to earn an additional nine bonus points.
  • This was Bowyer’s sixth top-10 this season and his fourth straight. It’s his 13thtop-10 in 25 career NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
  • Bowyer led three times for 45 laps Saturday night and has now led 260 laps in 2018.
  • Kyle Busch won the Richmond 400 to score his 46thcareer Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his fifth at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .511 of a second.
  • There were six caution periods for a total of 46 laps, and there were 16 lead changes among seven drivers.
  • Twenty-three of the 39 drivers in the Richmond 400 finished on the lead lap. 

Clint Bowyer, driver of the No. 14 Ford Hall of Fans Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing: 

“We had a really good car; it’s just frustrating there at the end. All hell breaks loose. We lost a couple of spots on pit road, and that gets you back and then you get on the outside and get stuck behind somebody that spun their tires and you knock the front fender in on the 24 because he spun his tires. The next thing you know you’re tenth, thinking, ‘Boy, how did this night go to ruin so fast?’ Then it’s just beating and banging and everybody dive-bombing on the bottom. It’s a shame that a good, positive night ends up being like that, but that’s racing at this place. If we could have maintained that top-two or -three, I think we could have stayed up there.” 

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Geico 500 on Sunday, April 29 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a prerace show at 1:30 p.m.

KEVIN HARVICK – 2018 Richmond I Race Report

Event:               Richmond 400(Round 9 of 36)
Series:               Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format:            400 laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/200 laps)
Start/Finish:      10th/ 5th(Running, completed 402 of 402 laps)
Point Standing:  4th(324 points, 91 out of first) 

Race Winner:    Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100): 

  • Kevin Harvick started 10thand finished 10th, scoring one bonus point.
  • The No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford started off fast, with Harvick rising to fifth after 45 laps.
  • As the sun began to set and the track cooled, the Mobil 1 Ford became loose and Harvick lost positions.
  • Harvick was able to stay among the top-10 through the end of Stage 1.
  • Harvick came to pit road for four tires and fuel at the end of the stage. However, a penalty for improper removal of pit equipment forced him back into the pits on the following lap. The team made the most of the second pit stop, making wedge adjustments to the left-rear and right-rear corners of the car.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200): 

  • Started 19thand finished 10th, earning one bonus point.
  • Harvick methodically worked his way back into the top-10 by lap 175, first by climbing to 14thafter 150 laps and 12thafter 165 laps.
  • Harvick pitted for four tires and fuel at the end of the stage, with a right-rear wedge adjustment. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-402): 

  • Started 10thand finished fifth.
  • Shortly after the stage started, Harvick keyed his mic and said only “Sideways!” After briefly dropping to 11th, he regained 10thon lap 223.
  • By lap 243, Harvick had the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford up to sixth, knocking on the door of the top-five.
  • Harvick passed Joey Logano, winner of the first two stages, for fifth on lap 247.
  • By lap 260, Harvick was fourth, and seven laps later, he was third.
  • Harvick made a scheduled, green flag pit stop for four tires and fuel with a left-rear wedge adjustment on lap 274. He came into the pits third and rejoined the race in third.
  • On lap 311, Harvick passed his SHR teammate, Clint Bowyer, for second.
  • Harvick took the lead from Martin Truex Jr. on lap 324 and held it for his next eight tours around the .75-mile oval.
  • Harvick made a second, scheduled, green flag pit stop on lap 332 for four tires and fuel. With 50 laps to go, he was third.
  • Four caution periods in those final 50 laps conspired against Harvick. Despite having fresh tires, traction and track position were tough to find.
  • The final restart sent the race into overtime via a green-white-checkered finish. After restarting in fourth place, Harvick brought his Mobil 1 Ford home in fifth. 

Notes:

  • This was Harvick’s sixth top-five finish of 2018 and his 13thtop-five in 35 career Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts at Richmond.
  • Harvick’s eight laps led increased his laps-led total at Richmond to 1,069.
  • Kyle Busch won the Richmond 400 to score his 46thcareer NASCAR Cup Series victory, his fifth at Richmond and his third of the season, which was also his third straight. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .511of a second.
  • There were six caution periods for a total of 46 laps.
  • Only 23 of the 39 drivers in the Richmond 400 finished on the lead lap.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We were terrible on the restarts compared to three or four of those guys. I was spinning the tires getting going on the restarts. All of the night taken into consideration, we were way better than we have been in the past, and that is an important race for us to figure out where we need to be with all of the things that didn’t go right tonight. We want to be ready for when we come back here for the playoff race.” 

Next Up: 

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Geico 500 April 29 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with a pre-race show at 1:30 p.m.

KURT BUSCH – 2018 Richmond I Race Report

Event:               Richmond 400(Round 9 of 36)
Series:               Monster EnergyNASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format:            400 laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/200 laps)
Start/Finish:      6th/11th(Running, completed 402 of 402 laps)
Point Standing:  9th(282 points, 133 out of first) 

Race Winner:    Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):

  • Kurt Busch started sixth and finished third, scoring eight bonus points.
  • The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion was a bit loose early on, but Busch worked his way up to third.
  • Busch passed Martin Truex Jr. for second on lap 60.
  • Teammate Aric Almirola passed him for second with eight laps left in the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200): 

  • Busch started second and finished fourth, scoring seven bonus points.
  • The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion pitted on lap 105 for four tires, fuel and a tire pressure adjustment.
  • Busch took the lead at the start of Stage 2.
  • On lap 169, teammate Clint Bowyer passed Busch for the lead.
  • Busch said his car was good after 15 laps, then worse after 60 laps. 

Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400): 

  • Started secondand finished 11th.
  • The No. 41 Haas Automation/Monster Energy Ford Fusion pitted on lap 205 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment.
  • Busch took the lead at the start of the final stage.
  • On lap 251, Bowyer again passed Busch for the lead.
  • During a pit stop on lap 273, as the car of Daniel Suarez was leaving the pit box behind Busch’s car, Suarez’s car hit the air hose, ripping the air gun out of the hand of Busch’s rear-tire changer. That slowed the stop, and Busch fell from fifth to ninth.
  • Busch pitted on laps 329, 370 and 391 for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment. The track bar in the car broke at the 300-lap mark, which hurt the car’s performance in the last laps of the race. 

Notes:

  • Busch finished third in Stage 1 to earn eight bonus points and fourth in Stage 2 to earn an additional seven bonus points.
  • He led twice for 98 laps to increase his lap-led total at Richmond to 904. He also surpassed 9,000 total laps led in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, becoming the 21stdriver to lead more than 9,000 laps.
  • Kyle Busch won the Richmond 400 to score his 46thcareer Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his fifth at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliott was .511of a second.
  • There were six caution periods for a total of 46 laps.
  • Twenty-three of the 39 drivers in the Richmond finished on the lead lap.

Next Up: 

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the GEICO 500 on Sunday, April 29 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX TV, MRN and SiriusXM Radio.

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2018 Richmond I Race Report

Event:               Richmond 400 (Round 9 of 36)
Series:               Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Location:          Richmond (Va.) Raceway(.75-mile oval)
Format:             400laps, broken into three stages (100 laps/100 laps/200 laps)
Start/Finish:      25th/17th(Running, completed 402 of 402 laps)
Point Standing:11th(248 points, 167 out of first) 

Race Winner:    Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner:Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)
Stage 2 Winner:Joey Logano of Team Penske (Ford)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-100):

  • Aric Almirola started 25thand finished second to earn nine bonus points.
  • Almirola climbed 24 positions in the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion in Stage 1.
  • Crew chief Johnny Klausmier told the team that the Smithfield Ford was the quickest car on the track by two-tenths of a second.
  • The No. 10 pitted at the conclusion of the stage for four tires and fuel.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 101-200):

  • Started sixth and finished third to earn eight bonus points.
  • Almirola fell to sixth place after the pit stop in Stage 1 but regained the top-five by lap 138, joining teammates Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer.
  • During the closing laps of Stage 2, Almirola made a clean pass on Busch for the third position and finished behind Bowyer.
  • He noted loose-handling conditions on entry, tight to the middle and loose to the exit of the turns.
  • The Smithfield Ford Fusion took four fresh tires, fuel and chassis adjustments at the end of the stage.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 201-400):

  • Started fourth and finished 17th.
  • Almirola continued to battle handing issues but held the Smithfield Ford inside the top-10.
  • On lap 328 he pitted under green-flag conditions for four tires and fuel. He was scored in the ninth position when green-flag pit stops cycled through.
  • After a lap-370 caution Almirola restarted in the ninth position, but he was caught in four-wide traffic and fell outside of the top-10.
  • During the final restart with three laps to go, Almirola battled to keep his Smithfield Ford in and around the top-15 but did not have enough laps to climb back through the field.

Notes:

  • Almirola earned a total of 17 bonus points.
  • There were six caution periods for a total of 46 laps.
  • Twenty-three of the 39 drivers in the Richmond 400 finished on the lead lap.
  • Kyle Busch won the Richmond 400 to score his 46thcareer Cup Series victory, his third of the season and his fifth at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Chase Elliot was .511 of a second.

Aric Almirola, driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“We fought hard all day up front and had a great car, but just couldn’t get the Smithfield Ford where we wanted it toward the end of the race. It’s tough when you have such a great car and worked so hard to finish where we did.”

Next Up:

The next event on the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series schedule is the Geico 500 on Sunday, April 29 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race starts at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX TV, MRN and SiriusXM Radio.

 

COLE CUSTER – 2018 Richmond Race Report

Cole Custer Finishes Sixth at Richmond

Code 3 Associates Driver Scores Second Straight Pole; Earns Sixth Straight Top-10

Date: April 20, 2018
Event: Richmond 250 (Round 8 of 33)
Series: NASCAR Xfinity Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway (.75-mile oval)
Format: 250 laps, broken into three stages (75 laps/75 laps/100 laps)
Start/Finish: 1st/6th(Running, completed 250 of 250 laps)
Point Standing: 6thwith 263 points

Race Winner:    Christopher Bell of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 1 Winner: Daniel Hemric of Richard Childress Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 2 Winner: Elliott Sadler of JR Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-75):

  • Custer started first, finished third and earned eight bonus points.
  • Custer held the Code 3 Associates Ford in the lead for the first 43 laps of Stage 1.
  • After a lap-64 caution, Custer restarted fourth and moved up to third before the stage ended.
  • He pitted for four tires and fuel at the conclusion of the stage.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 76-150):

  • Custer started eighth, finished fifth and earned six bonus points.
  • Five cars pitted before the conclusion of Stage 1, putting Custer in the eighth position.
  • Custer was caught in traffic on the restart and noted loose-handling conditions when he got back to the gas.
  • Custer took four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments at the conclusion of the stage.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 151-250):

  • Custer started eighth, finished sixth.
  • During the pit stop at the end of Stage 2, the No. 00 team received a penalty for an uncontrolled tire and forced Custer to the rear of the field.
  • Following a lap-164 caution, Custer powered his way back into the top-10 in less than 10 laps.
  • Custer continued to wheel the Code 3 Associates Ford through the field and fought his way up to sixth when the race concluded.

Notes:              

  • Custer earned his and Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste’s second straight pole.
  • This marks Custer’s second Xfinity Series top-10 at Richmond and sixth straight top-10 of the season.
  • Custer earned14 bonus points in the Richmond 250.
  • Custer led once for a total of 43 laps.
  • Five cautions slowed the race for 49 laps.
  • Only 15 of the 40 drivers finished on the lead lap.
  • No NASCAR Cup Series drivers were entered in the Richmond 250.
  • Christopher Bell won the Richmond 250 to score his second career Xfinity Series victory, first of the season and first at Richmond. His margin of victory over second-place Noah Gragson was .423 seconds.

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing With Biagi-DenBeste:     

“We had such a fast car. At the start of the race we were really good and then the middle stage we were a little bit off, and then we made the Code 3 Associates Ford pretty good there at the end, but we got that penalty, which I guess was a little bit of a close call. We’ll look at it but it’s just frustrating because I think we had a really good car, but it is what it is. I’ve got to thank everybody at Code 3 and hopefully come back better next time.”

COLE CUSTER – 2018 Richmond I Race Advance

Event:               Richmond 250 (Round 8 of 33)
Date:                 April 20, 2018
Location:          Richmond (Va.) Raceway
Layout:             .75-mile oval

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

 

  • Cole Custer will compete for his sixth consecutive top-10 finish this weekend in the Richmond 250 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
  • This will mark Custer’s sixth start at Richmond and his fourth NASCAR Xfinity Series start at the .75-mile oval. In his first Xfinity Series start at Richmond in April 2016, Custer claimed his first Xfinity Series top-10.
  • Custer is no stranger to victory lane at Richmond. In 2014, he took the checkered flag after leading 52 laps in the K&N Pro Series East race. In Custer’s five combined starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (two races) and NASCAR Xfinity Series (three races) at Richmond, Custer has a win, two top-five finishes, three top-10s and 76 laps led.
  • In 45 Xfinity Series starts, 42 Camping World Truck Series starts and 29 K&N Pro Series starts since 2015, Custer has five wins, seven poles, 14 top-five finishes, 28 top-10s and 919 laps led at tracks that are a mile in length or shorter.
  • Custer’s best finish in the six Xfinity Series races run this season is his fourth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
  • Custer has one win, one pole, nine top-five finishes, 26 top-10s and has led 307 laps in 45 career Xfinity Series starts.
  • Custer is sixth in the Xfinity Series driver standings with 218 points, 43 behind series leader Elliot Sadler.
  • Custer participated in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) event at Richmond on Wednesday, where he taught over 300 Central Virginia students the science behind racing.
  • Last week at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Custer earned his and Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste’s first Xfinity Series career pole. He continued to battle in and around the top-five before securing his fifth straight top-10 finish.
  • Code 3 Associates will be the primary partner onboard Custer’s No. 00 Ford Mustang at Richmond for the first time this season. Code 3 Associates is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization specializing in animal rescue and recovery in disaster areas. Formed in 1985, Colorado-based Code 3 Associates is a national response team that, at the request of local government officials, provides animal rescue and recovery in times of disaster. The organization has evolved from one unpaid volunteer to approximately 75 professional responders and thousands of members around the country, which include animal welfare, law enforcement, fire, EMS and veterinary specialists from the United States and Canada. While its focus is animals and their owners, Code 3 Associates trains its responders to the standards of human rescue, and Code 3 Associates also provides training to conduct thorough investigations into animal welfare issues, all of which is accredited by Colorado State University and the school’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

 

Cole Custer, Driver Q&A 

 

You have a win, two top-five finishes and three top-10s at Richmond. What will it take to get your second win at Richmond?

“Richmond is a tough place because you’re just slipping and sliding the whole time, so I think you’ll definitely need a car that can be good on a long run to win there. It’s a really smooth track, but you just slide around like you’re on ice. It makes it really fun and challenging.”

Do you think you can keep the top-10 momentum going at Richmond?

“Even though we didn’t win the Dash for Cash last weekend I feel like we still did take some momentum out of Bristol with our first pole as a team. We had some speed at Richmond last year, so I think we can take some momentum from Bristol and have a good run. Last year we didn’t have any notes to go off of, so it was a big learning curve. Now we have two races under our belts to help us prepare.”

How would you rate the team’s performance this year compared to last year?

“Compared to last year, I would say we are leaps and bounds better. Going to the track we have a really good notebook that we can rely on and as a driver I feel like I’ve made pretty big gains since last year. We still want more, but it’s awesome to see the improvement from last year.” 

 

Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A

 

Are you content with consistent top-10 finishes?

“I’m not upset with top-10’s, but we should be finishing in the top-five every week. Everyone on the team is doing a great job. We definitely have the potential to finish in the top-five every week and even win a few races.”

What car are you bringing to Richmond?

“We are bringing chassis No. 1093 to Richmond. This is the same car we had good speed with in Phoenix this year.”

 

ARIC ALMIROLA – 2018 Richmond I Race Advance

Aric Almirola and the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) heads to Richmond (Va.) Raceway this weekend for the first Saturday night race of the season. The Tampa native looks to build upon his season-best finish of sixth during Monday’s weather-delayed race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.

Under the guidance of first-year crew chief Johnny Klausmeier, Almirola was the top SHR Ford Fusion driver at Bristol – three of whom finished in the top-10. Not only was it a big weekend on the track for Klausmeier, it was just as busy off of the track for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County graduate with the birth of his second child, a daughter named Olivia.

Almirola looks to replicate his solid finish from Bristol at the Richmond oval this weekend. Despite his sixth-place finish at Bristol, he was happy to be disappointed with the result. “I’m a little disappointed with sixth but, at the same time, I’m happy and pleased that we rebounded after a bad day in Texas,” the Smithfield driver said. With the exception of an accident at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth that left him with a 32nd-place result, Almirola hasn’t finished outside the top-14 this season. Even though Almirola had a solid result at Bristol, it didn’t come easily, evidenced by Almirola earning the Mobil 1 Performance Award after completing 81 passes throughout the 500-lap event. It was the second time Almirola has received the award this season. He was also the second-highest-finishing Ford Fusion in the 500-lap race at Bristol.

The Richmond facility, which is undergoing an infield renovation, typically puts on one of the best shows in the sport and is the second consecutive short track of the season. In 12 starts at the .75-mile oval, Almirola has captured one top-five finish and four top-10s. He has an average Richmond finish of 16.2 with 99.9 percent of laps completed, and he earned a ninth-place result in this race last year.

Almirola has six Richmond starts in the Xfinity Series and has scored one top-10 finish along with 10 laps led, and an average finish of 16.2. Richmond is the first track this season where Almirola hasn’t made a Camping World Truck Series start.

Earlier this week, Ford announced it will transition from the Fusion to the Mustang for the 2019 Cup Series season. “When you think about muscle cars and going fast, especially when it comes to the blue oval, you think of the Ford Mustang,” Almirola said. “I think it’s going to be really cool to get the Mustang out on the track in the Cup Series. It already runs in the Xfinity Series and they’ve had a lot of success with it in that series, so I’m excited about getting the Mustang on the track in our series and I can’t wait to take it to victory lane.” Ford leads all manufacturers in the series with four wins so far this season, and has 32 all-time series wins at Richmond.

Richmond marks the eighth weekend that the Smithfield livery has adorned Almirola’s No. 10 Ford Fusion. Smithfield, a brand of Smithfield Foods, which is based approximately five hours northeast of SHR headquarters in Smithfield, Virginia, is in its seventh season with Almirola and its first with SHR. The No. 10 team partner’s headquarters is located approximately 80 miles southeast of Richmond Raceway. Founded in 1936, Smithfield is a leading provider of high-quality pork products, with a vast product portfolio including smoked meats, hams, bacon, sausage, ribs, and a wide variety of fresh pork cuts.

Saturday, Almirola will join Smithfield at Richmond’s infield track takeover area prior to the race. The event begins at 3 p.m. EDT with Almirola helping Smithfield make a protein donation to FeedMore Food Bank of Richmond on behalf of Kroger as part of the company’s 2018 Helping Hungry Homes® hunger-relief tour. The event is open to the media and will conclude at approximately at 3:30 p.m.

 

ARIC ALMIROLA, Driver of the No. 10 Smithfield Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

What has been the biggest challenge for you – making the move and jelling with the new team?

“I would say the biggest challenge for me is getting to know what I need out of the racecars. Trying to gauge myself off of Kevin (Harvick), Clint (Bowyer) and Kurt (Busch) and really understanding what I’m looking for in a racecar compared to those guys. The thing I’ve noticed is that all four cars are fast each weekend and we all end up with a little bit different setup and I think that’s the challenging part for Johnny Klausmeier (crew chief), myself and the engineers right now, really identifying what it is I’m looking for in the racecar and building that notebook. We’re showing up to a lot these tracks without a notebook of working together and so we’re kind of guessing on what we need for a setup when we arrive and throughout the weekend, and we tune and tweak on it and usually by Sunday is when we have the car at its best. I’m really proud of Johnny and the engineers for that. That’s a testament to how hard they’re working throughout the weekend to get us where we need to be. Every time we show up at the racetrack, it’s kind of a shot in the dark as far as what we need when we get there. I think that’s the most challenging part right now, just building that notebook and that familiarity of the cars and the setups.”

What’s it like to race at Richmond?

“Richmond is an awesome track to race at. It’s Saturday-night racing at its finest. Beating and banging, and the track has very little grip and the tires wear out, so it’s a really fun racetrack. You can see the sparks flying, and having the glow of the brake rotors and everything lit up is neat. It’s also pretty close to Smithfield, Virginia, so it’s a hometown race for Smithfield. It’s just a lot of fun to go there and race.”
Is it difficult to adjust from the larger tracks you race on to all of a sudden being at a smaller track like Richmond?

“No, I think that’s what makes racecar drivers special, especially the ones who are at the top of what they do like us. We’re able to adapt so fast. Whether we go from a big track like Michigan International Speedway, or to a place like Martinsville Speedway, we all get really good at adapting to whatever racetrack we go to.”

KEVIN HARVICK – 2018 Richmond I Race Advance

Kevin Harvick is headed to Richmond (Va.) Raceway for this Saturday night’s 400-mile Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race with Mobil 1 on the hood of his No. 4 Ford Fusion for the first time in 2018.

The challenging .75-mile short track in eastern Virginia should be a perfect fit for Mobil 1’s “Tiny Kevin”.

Through the magic of television, Harvick appears as a three-inch tall version of himself as “Tiny Kevin”. For the second consecutive year, Harvick is prominently featured in the advertising for Mobil 1 Annual Protection – the breakthrough lubricant technology that allows drivers to go one full year or 20,000 miles between oil changes. The three-inch tall version of Harvick plays the comedic foil to an average guy getting ready to change his oil and explains the convenience of going one-full year or 20,000 miles between oil changes.

Mobil 1 Annual Protection is made up of high-performance synthetic base oils and is reinforced with proprietary anti-aging technology. The advanced formulation resists breakdown, which means it can deliver longer-lasting engine protection while supporting optimal performance. The proof of performance team evaluated the capabilities of Mobil 1 Annual Protection motor oil by conducting tests to measure how oil can oxidize, break down and thicken over time. In the ExxonMobil Proprietary High-temperature Viscosity Control Test, the team noticed how Mobil 1 Annual Protection oil outlasted the other synthetic oils tested before thickening limits were reached.

Stewart-Haas Racing’s partnership with Mobil 1 provides the unique combination of experience and innovative thinking to deliver enhanced performance results on the track. The relationship represents an ambition – backed by science – to provide drivers with the best possible lubricant technology solutions.

The partnership with Mobil 1 continues to provide on-track testing that helps lead to new lubricant technology developments like Mobil 1 Annual Protection.

Harvick and the No. 4 team also benefit from Mobil 1 lubricant technology through improved efficiency of the car using lower friction engine and gear oils, which results in better driveline efficiency and improved reliability by reducing both friction and wear in the final driveline.

All the benefits that Harvick and the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford team receive from using Mobil 1 under the hood should give the team a better opportunity to reach victory lane for the fourth time in 2018.

Heading into this weekend, the No. 4 team ranks third in the championship standings with 290 points, 75 behind series leader Kyle Busch. That number is significant considering Harvick and Busch have finished 1-2 in three of the first eight races this year, with Harvick besting Busch in two of those three contests.

Harvick leads the Cup Series with three wins and is tied with Busch in playoff points (12), and as Richmond beckons, Tiny Kevin looks to stand stall and protect his lead in the win column with Mobil 1 Annual Protection.

KEVIN HARVICK, Driver of the No. 4 Mobil 1 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:

 

How different will it be with the track transitioning from day to night this weekend?

“Richmond is a racetrack where you have to have a plan. When I say you have to have a plan, you have to know that it’s going to be 50 degrees or high 40s as we go into the night and into the race. As you go from day time practice where it always seems like the car is pushing, then you’ll go into the night and the car will start turning better. The next thing you know you’re starting to get loose off the corner. You have to anticipate where the racetrack is going to go, because of the fact the tires wear out so fast. You’re going to have a certain condition of tight throughout the practice sessions, the tires wear out fast and it only seems to get tighter with the cycles on the tires. It’s a very difficult place to practice on and you have to have a notebook that tells you what the racetrack has done consistently over the past few years. I guess last year we raced in the day, so it’s different when you practice all day and then go into the night. It’s going to be relatively cool as we go there this weekend, so you’ll be leaning on your notebook a lot to try and guess right and make your car do what you want it to do at night and practice during the day.”

Richmond Raceway is going through a substation renovation project at this time. What do you expect to see this weekend?

“Mobil 1 is more than just a sponsor at Stewart-Haas Racing; they’re a technical partner, just for the fact that their technology under the hood of the No. 4 Ford gives our cars an advantage over other teams. The Mobil 1 guys work just as hard for us as we do for them. They’re always at the racetrack and race shop looking over the engine oil, chassis lubricants, gear oil and even power steering fluid to make sure we have the best technology available and provide us with an advantage over the other teams. Mobil 1 is one of the reasons for our strong start to the season and I believe our performance showcases what their products are all about.”