Event: Food City 300 (Round 22 of 33)
Date: August 17, 2018
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
Layout: .533-mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest:
- Friday’s Food City 300 will mark Cole Custer’s third Xfinity Series start at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
- While the Food City 300 will be Custer’s third Xfinity Series start at Bristol, it will also be his eighth overall start at the .533-mile oval in East Tennessee. Custer has three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and two NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts at Bristol. Custer’s career-best Bristol finish is sixth in the 2016 Truck Series race.
- While it wasn’t his best finish, Custer’s most impressive performance at Bristol was in the 2015 Truck Series race. He started fifth and led twice for a race-high 111 laps, holding off a handful of veterans including Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Kyle Busch. But when Custer was coming up on Spencer Gallagher to put him a lap down less than 40 laps from the finish, Gallagher spun in front of Custer. With nowhere to go, Custer collided with him, all but ending his race. He finished 16th.
- In Custer’s last Xfinity Series start at Bristol, he earned his first career pole award and battled in and around the top-five throughout the race before earning his second-straight top-10 at the track.
- Custer’s best finish in the 21 Xfinity Series races run this season is second, earned in the 11th event May 26 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
- Custer has earned four poles, seven top-five finishes, 17 top-10s, and has led 232 laps in the 2018 Xfinity Series season.
- Custer’s four pole awards this season leads all Xfinity Series regulars – including his first pole award won at Bristol on April 18.
- Custer is fourth in the Xfinity Series driver standings with 752 points, 19 behind series leader Christopher Bell.
- Custer is competing for his sixth consecutive top-10 in the Food City 300.
- For the third year, a chemical compound called VHT has been added to the inside portion of the Bristol track surface to enhance the lower racing groove.
- There are only five races left until the Xfinity Series playoffs begin Sept. 21 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway. The winner of the regular-season points championship will earn an additional 15 playoff points – equivalent to winning three races.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
What does it take to cross the finish line first at Bristol?
“I think the biggest thing now is trying to make a good decision on what you think the VHT is going to do in the race and make good adjustments to your car for that. I think your line will change throughout the weekend and in the race as the VHT changes, and it will also depend on how they put it down. Usually, it seems like we start running the top in the race, though.”
How important is it to battle for the regular-season championship?
“In our case it’s very important. We either need to win a few races or win the regular-season championship to match those guys with a lot of playoffs points. We’re still happy with where we are right now, but it would put us in a great spot going into the first round of the playoffs.”
Where would you rank Bristol on your list of favorite tracks?
“Bristol ranks high on my charts. It’s so much fun to slip and slide around a short track in the Xfinity Series and it’s something different we get to do. The fans obviously love short tracks, so it’s always great to put on a show for them.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
What will be the key to earning a solid finish at Bristol?
“Cole’s been great at short tracks his whole career. I like the idea of enhancing the bottom groove so the track has more options for passing. We’re coming back to Bristol with more notes than we had before. As long as we stay out of trouble, I think we’ll have a good shot at it.”