Event: O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 (Round 31 of 33)
Date: Nov. 3, 2018
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth
Layout: 1.5-mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
- The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 is the second race of the second round of the 2018 NASCAR Xfinity Series playoffs. The playoffs began with 12 eligible drivers and are divided into three rounds with the first two rounds consisting of three races apiece, followed by a final, single-race round at the Homestead-Miami Speedway season finale. Four drivers are eliminated after each of the first two rounds to ultimately establish four finalists at Homestead. Drivers automatically qualify for the next round with a win in the current round with the remaining spots determined by the point standings. At Homestead, the top-finishing driver among the four finalists wins the championship.
- Custer led the 2017 Xfinity Series with 422 points at 1.5-mile tracks after winning the season finale at Homestead by 15.405 seconds and winning Stages 1 and 2.
- Earlier this year at Texas, Custer ran inside the top-five for the majority of the race and finished fourth – his best career finish at the 1.5-mile oval.
- Custer has earned a top-five in all three of his Xfinity Series starts at Texas Motor Speedway.
- Custer’s most recent start on a 1.5-mile oval was two weekends ago at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. Custer was involved in an accident on lap one and had mechanical issues. With no power steering, he added grip tape to his steering wheel and stayed in the race to finish 26th.
- The O’Reilly Auto Parts 300 is the ninth of 10 races on 1.5-mile tracks on the 33-race NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule. Custer has earned two poles, five top-five finishes, six top-10s and has led 50 laps in the eight races run this season on 1.5-mile tracks.
- Custer’s average starting position of 6.3 and five pole awards leads all Xfinity Series regulars this season. He has earned 19 top-five starts and 24 top-10 starts in the 2018 Xfinity Series season.
- Custer’s best finish in the 2018 Xfinity Series so far is second, earned three times – May 26 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, Sept. 1 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Oct. 6 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
- Custer is seventh in the 2018 Xfinity Series playoffs with 3,011 points, 23 behind the cutoff position that will advance to the championship round.
- No Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are entered in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 300.
- Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), the championship-winning NASCAR team, has partnered with Autodesk, a leader in software applications for the architecture, engineering, construction, manufacturing, media and entertainment industries. Autodesk will be the primary sponsor of the No. 00 Ford Mustangthis weekend at Texas. While this will be Autodesk’s first appearance on a racecar fielded by SHR, the software company has played a significant role in SHR’s success this season, which includes 14 victories across the Xfinity Series and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Autodesk’s advanced Power Inspect software is used to analyze precise points on SHR’s fleet of racecars. This ensures compliance with NASCAR’s technical regulations while simultaneously aiding designers in increasing competitiveness based on simulation and track testing. Utilizing Autodesk’s PowerShape and PowerMill software, SHR is able to produce complex geometry components that are proprietary to SHR and meet the demands of a high-performance environment. Headquartered in San Rafael, California, Autodesk makes software for people who make things, whether that’s a racecar or a skyscraper.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
How important is it to have a partner like Autodesk involved behind the scenes of our race team?
“I’m extremely excited to have Autodesk on board because they’re more than just a sponsor. They play a significant role behind the scenes to make our cars go faster and help our guys build cars faster. Their technology and software is unmatched and I think, if it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be competing for a championship right now. I’m hoping to put the Autodesk Ford in victory lane this weekend to pay them back for all of their hard work.”
Texas is statistically your most consistent track in the Xfinity Series. What is it going to take to put yourself in a position to advance?
“It’s been a great track for us in the past and I’m looking forward to it probably more than any track right now. We definitely have to be on our game and be hunting for a win and stage points as much as possible. It’s doable to make the points up, but we’re going to really have to make some magic happen. We’ll go to Texas with a lot of speed because we always do at mile-and-a-half tracks, so there is no reason we won’t finish well as long as we don’t get involved in a wreck like last weekend.”
Its seems like stage points can make or break your championship opportunities.
“You see it in the cup series a lot and you see it here. If you don’t finish well in the first two stages you’re going to fall way behind – that’s what is so exciting about our sport. You can go in to a weekend with all the confidence in the world and if you miss out on one stage you may have missed out on a championship. You have to be consistent the entire race. At Texas, we have had some bad luck in the first two stages, but always end up with a great finish – that can’t happen this weekend.”
At Kansas, you ran the entire race with grip tape on your steering wheel after your power steering went out. How was that?
“That sucked. I hope I never have to do that again. I’m glad we have power steering. It was something we had to do because every point counts at the end of these rounds.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
What is it about Texas that make you confident about making up the points deficit?
“Texas is arguably our best and most consistent track because Cole has some good experience there and we have really advanced our 1.5-mile program. The Autodesk Ford team has high hopes for the weekend and I think we’ll rack up some stage points and have a solid finish to put us back in the hunt for the Championship 4.”