COLE CUSTER – 2017 Fontana Race Report

 

Date: March 25, 2017
Event: Service King 300 (Round 5 of 33)
Series: NASCAR XFINITY Series
Location: Auto Club Speedway (2-mile oval)
Format: 150 laps, broken into three stages (35 laps/35 laps/80 laps)
Start/Finish: 4th/35th (Accident, completed 106 of 150 laps)
Point Standing: 12th (86 points, 103 out of first)

Race Winner: Kyle Larson of Chip Ganassi Racing (Chevrolet)
Stage 1 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)
Stage 2 Winner: Kyle Busch of Joe Gibbs Racing (Toyota)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-35):

  • Started 4th, finished 8th.
  • Custer noted a tight-handling condition that progressed through Stage 1.
  • After the caution period on lap 30, Custer restarted the final two laps of Stage 1 in the sixth position.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 36-70):       

  • Started 6th, finished 8th.
  • Custer continued to battle a tight-handling condition through Stage 2.
  • Custer ran consistently in the top 10.

Final Stage Recap (Laps 71-150):

  • Started 6th, finished 35th.
  • After slight air pressure adjustments, Custer raced his way back to the third position.
  • During the lap 96 caution, Custer opted to pit and a jack malfunction caused Custer to restart in the 17th position.
  • On lap 106, Custer was involved in an accident sending him into the wall and ending his day.

Notes:              

  • Custer earned his career-best NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying effort.
  • Custer earned points in Stage 1 and Stage 2.

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:  

Walk us through today’s race.
“I just got hooked going into the corner. I think I hit him (Ryan Sieg) a tick just on my side draft coming off of four and then he decided to hook us going into turn one and wreck us. It is what it is, but we’ll just move on. We had an awesome Haas Automation Ford Mustang. I thought we could have competed for a win there. We had a bad pit stop, but we were going to work our way back up there.”

COLE CUSTER – 2017 Phoenix I Race Report

Date:                 March 18, 2017
Event:               DC Solar 200 (Round 4 of 33)
Series:               NASCAR XFINITY Series
Location:          Phoenix International Raceway (Mile oval)
Format:             200 laps, broken into three stages (60 laps/60 laps/80 laps)
Start/Finish:      9th/21st (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
 Point Standing: 12th (78 points, 66 out of first)
 Race Winner:    Justin Allgaier of Junior Motorsports (Chevrolet)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-60):

  • Started ninth, finished 18th.
  • Battled tight-handling car after the first 15 laps of Stage 1.
  • Team made major handling adjustments during caution between Stages 1 and 2.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 61-120):     

  • Started 23rd, finished 15th.
  • Before the stage began, NASCAR penalized Custer for driving through too many pit stalls on his stop and forced the No. 00 to restart at back of the field.
  • With improved handling, Custer gained eight spots during the stage, occasionally turning top-five lap times.

 Final Stage Recap (Laps 121-200):          

  • Started 15th, finished 21st.
  • Climbed to eighth with 14 laps remaining.
  • Made contact with Austin Dillon with 10 to go. During the caution, Dillon drove his damaged car into Custer’s car.
  • Custer pitted for repairs and restarted the race 26th with five laps remaining.

Notes:              

  • Custer tied his career-best NASCAR XFINITY Series qualifying effort.
  • This was Custer’s 10th NASCAR XFINITY Series start.
  • 95-degree weather with temperatures exceeding 130 degrees inside racecars.

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

Tell us about the race and your take on the incident with Austin Dillon.“We had a great race leading up to that. We didn’t start out at all how we wanted to but, by the end, we were probably a fifth- to eighth-place car. I thought that was a really good sign for us. We had a really good Haas Automation Ford Mustang this weekend. The incident with Austin was 100-percent my fault. I got in there too deep, got really loose going in and couldn’t put any wheel into it. That was pretty much it. Something that won’t happen again. It’s unfortunate I cost us and the No. 2 car there.”

COLE CUSTER – 2017 Las Vegas Race Report

Event:               Boyd Gaming 300 (Round 3 of 33)
Series:               NASCAR XFINITY Series
Location:          Las Vegas Motor Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Format:             200 laps, broken into three stages (45 laps/45 laps/120 laps)
Start/Finish:      20th/11th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Point Standing: 10th (62 points, 37 out of first)

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

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-45):

  • Started 20th, finished 13th.
  • Custer battled a radio issue and was forced to use hand signals to communicate until the end of Stage 1.
  • The No. 00 Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang featured a loose in, tight through the center, and off the corner handling condition.

Stage 2 Recap (Laps 46-90):

  • Started 15th, finished 14th.
  • Custer raced from 20th to 14th in the final six laps of Stage 2 following a four-tire stop under caution.
  • The No. 00 stayed out at the end of Stage 2.

Stage 3 Recap (Laps 91-200):

  • Started 5th, finished 11th.
  • The No. 00 Ford Mustang restarted on slightly older tires after staying out at the end of Stage 2.
  • Custer reported that the No. 00 Ford Mustang was tight from the center of the corner through exit near Lap 105.
  • The No. 00 came to pit road from the 11th position for four tires, fuel and a chassis adjustment on lap 142 under green-flag conditions.
  • He was running 10th when a debris caution came on lap 161. He pitted under caution for four tires, an air pressure adjustment and fuel.
  • Custer narrowly avoided a wreck right in front of him on lap 192 while racing in the 15th
  • He restarted 14th on lap 196 and gained four positions over the final four-lap run to the finish.

Race Notes:

  • Joey Logano crossed the finish line 0.602 of a second ahead of runner-up Kyle Larson.
  • Daniel Suarez, Justin Allgaier and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five finishers.
  • Custer’s 11th-place result was the best among Xfinity series rookies and his second top-15 finish of 2017.
  • The Boyd Gaming 300 marks Custer’s eighth NASCAR Xfinity Series start and his second start at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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

“We started out with some radio problems and then got those fixed. I got better as the day went on with restarts and we definitely had a good long-run car and got better by the end. I was able to make our way up there and got lucky by avoiding that wreck right there at the end. It was right there in front of us. I can’t say enough about all of our guys on our Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang and the folks at Stewart-Haas and Ford for all of their support. It’s been a great first few races and we’re looking forward to the rest of them.”

Do you feel like you’ve got some solid momentum going to Phoenix?

“Yeah, for sure. Our goals were to kind of get through the west coast swing solid and see what we’ve got from there. We’re accomplishing our goals right now and it’s gonna put us in a good spot for the rest of the season.”

COLE CUSTER – 2017 Atlanta Race Advance

 

Event:  Atlanta 250

Date:  Saturday, March 4, 2017

Location:  Atlanta Motor Speedway  

Layout:  1.54-mile oval

 

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

  • The Atlanta 250 will mark Cole Custer’s seventh career NASCAR XFINITY Series start, his first career XFINITY Series start at Atlanta Motor Speedway and his second career XFINITY Series start in a Ford Mustang.
  • Custer will share the field with teammate Kevin Harvick, who has one win, six top-fives and 11 top-10s at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
  • Custer has one start at Atlanta in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starting in the sixth position and finishing 17th.
  • Custer is competing for rookie-of-the-year honors in the XFINITY Series.

 

Cole Custer, Driver Q&A

After watching Kurt Busch kick off the SHR-Ford partnership by winning the Daytona 500, does that motivate you even more to go out and find success with the XFINITY program?

“It was awesome watching Kurt win down in Daytona with Ford’s first race with Stewart-Haas. With all the help and support Ford has given our team, we want to make them proud and put the blue oval out front. This weekend will be a great opportunity for us to do just that and make Ford proud.”

You’ve finally had a taste of racing in your new Haas Automation Ford Mustang. How well do you think you will perform based on the car you had in Daytona?

“I feel like we had a car that could really race well in Daytona and that’s exactly what you will want in Atlanta. With all the tire fall-off at Atlanta, you’re going to want a car that handles well and we accomplished that in Daytona. We tested in Atlanta once and we felt like we put together a great car. Hopefully, we can get Gene (Haas), Tony (Stewart) and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing their first Xfinity Series win.”

What is unique about racing in Atlanta?

“Atlanta is one of the most unique places we go to because the track is so worn out. The whole weekend, you’re just going to be trying to keep the tires in good shape. It’s extremely fun for the drivers since we get to slip around a ton. One of our biggest goals is to just have a solid race. We’re looking to execute our plan and have a fast car, and hopefully we’ll be up front at the end. The crew has been working hard to ensure we have the best Haas Automation Ford Mustang we can build.”

You’ve made laps around Atlanta in the Truck Series. Do you feel familiar with the track, and how will that translate to racing XFINITY cars?

“Having raced in the Truck Series at Atlanta will definitely help me this weekend. However, there are a lot of differences between a truck and an Xfinity car, so it’s good that I’ve seen the track before and felt the characteristics of it.”

Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A

Now that Stewart-Haas Racing is the 2017 Daytona 500-winning team, does this motivate you to bring the same success in the XFINITY Series?

“Definitely, especially with Ford’s backing and how good of a start they’re off to winning an XFINITY race and the Daytona 500. It definitely makes us want to continue that success for them and Stewart-Haas Racing.”

What are your expectations for racing in Atlanta?

“We went and tested there and it went really well. I think we’ll have a great shot at placing well. The main goal is to get some points and make some solid stage runs to bring us higher in the points.”

How well are you and Cole communicating, and how will that translate to Atlanta?

“I would say we are communicating really well. Obviously, I’m still learning him and he’s still learning me, but I couldn’t ask for a better way to start than it already has. Having that test in Atlanta helped a lot. Daytona is relatively low-pressure, so it’s kind of an easy place to go out and practice on the first weekend. So, we’ve kind of eased into the tougher tracks like Atlanta. I think things are going really well.”

Can you compare a 19-year-old Cole Custer’s style to veteran drivers you have worked with in the past?

“Cole is his own person, personality-wise. He’s kind of quiet and he’s calm. That’s one thing that’s nice about him. A lot of times, younger drivers are not good at staying patient or calm in the car and he doesn’t seem to have that issue. Nothing really seems to bother him. I’ve been extremely impressed with him and he’s done a good job.”

Year Event/Series Start Finish Status/Laps Laps Led
2016 Great Clips 200 (Truck) 6 17 Running/130 0

 

COLE CUSTER – 2017 Daytona Race Report

Event:                     PowerShares QQQ 300 (Round 1 of 33)
Series:                    NASCAR XFINITY Series
Location:                Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Format:                 120 laps, broken into three stages (30 laps/30 laps/60 laps)
Start/Finish:          20th/37th  (Accident, completed 22 of 120 laps)
Point Standing:    30th (1 point, 46 out of first)
Race Winner:        Ryan Reed of Roush Fenway Racing (Ford Mustang)

Stage 1 Recap (Laps 1-30):

  • Started 20th, finished 37th.

Notes of Interest:             

  • This is Custer’s first career NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
  • Custer raced as high as 10th place before being involved in an accident during Stage 1 involving 20 cars.
  • This was Custer’s third race at Daytona International Speedway.

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:

“It looks like we got collected there. I saw the 42 get turned and I think we just tried to make our way through, but there was nowhere to go. It’s a shame because we had a really good Haas Automation Ford Mustang. I thought our guys did a great job. It drafted really well and we’ll look forward to Atlanta. I know we’ve got a lot of great people at Stewart-Haas and Ford, and I think we’ll have a lot of great runs this year.”

Daytona is a different animal than most every other track. Do you quickly forget about this race and move on to the rest of the season?

“Yeah, it’s Daytona. You’re gonna have this all the time, so we’ll go to the next one. That’s all you can look forward to, and I think we’re gonna be fast in Atlanta. We’ll see what we can do.”

What was the racing like?

“I wouldn’t say people were being too aggressive at first. It was definitely hectic, though. We got the third lane going a little bit, but right there at the end people were trying to make up spots for the segment and people might have gotten a little too aggressive.”

Next Up: 

The next event on the NASCAR XFINITY Series schedule is the Rinnai 250 on Saturday, March 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The race starts at 1:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FS1.

COLE CUSTER – 2017 Daytona Race Advance

Event:               PowerShares QQQ 300 (Round 1 of 33)
Date:                 Saturday, Feb. 25, 2017
Location:          Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway
Layout:             2.5-mile oval (restrictor-plate track)

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

  • The PowerShares QQQ 300 will mark Cole Custer’s sixth career NASCAR XFINITY Series start, his first career XFINITY Series start at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and his first career XFINITY Series start in a restrictor-plate race.
  • Custer’s five previous XFINITY Series starts came in 2016. His best result was a fourth-place finish May 28 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. 
  • Custer has two overall starts at Daytona between the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA Racing Series. Both came in February 2016 during Speedweeks, with Custer finishing 24th in the Truck Series race and 10th in the ARCA race. 
  • Custer won the pole for the 2016 ARCA season opener at Daytona, becoming the youngest pole winner in Daytona history among the ARCA, Truck, XFINITY and Cup series.
  • Custer has competed in three restrictor-plate races – twice in the Camping World Truck Series (once at Daytona and once at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway) and once in ARCA (Daytona). All of them came in 2016. His best Truck Series finish was 24th at Daytona and his best ARCA finish was 10th.
  • Custer is competing for rookie-of-the-year honors in the XFINITY Series.

Cole Custer, Driver Q&A

What does racing at Daytona mean to you?

“Daytona is definitely one of the most historic tracks we go to, so it means a lot just to get to race there. Getting a win there also puts you with some legendary names in the sport. Growing up, I always looked forward to Daytona because the pack racing was so cool and it was the first race of the year. It’s always a surreal feeling to race at Daytona because you can’t believe you’re doing what you dreamed of as a kid.”

 You’ve competed at Daytona twice in your career, but never in the XFINITY Series. How do you feel those past experiences will prepare you for the PowerShares QQQ 300? 

“I feel the Truck and ARCA Series helped prepare me to get used to racing in the pack and working with the air. It kind of gave me an idea of where I need to be in the pack and how to stay out of trouble. There are definitely a lot of different things about the XFINITY Series that I will have to learn, though. There are a lot of guys out there with a lot of experience in plate racing, but I’m looking forward to getting in my new Haas Automation Ford Mustang and competing for a top position.”

 You’re only 19 years old, but you’ve been a rookie many times already in a career that has advanced you to the XFINITY Series. Even with all the newness of the XFINITY Series, does having been a rookie in USAC, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and the Camping World Truck Series, and then establishing yourself in those series, give you the confidence you need to compete at this level?

“The XFINITY Series will definitely be a new challenge with a lot of tough competitors, but I’m confident in Stewart-Haas and Ford to give the team a great season. I think we have a great shot at a successful season and I’m looking forward to it.”

 What are your expectations for Daytona and your rookie XFINITY Series season?

“I think we have as good of a shot as anyone to win at Daytona. We’re building some great Haas Automation Ford Mustangs and have great support from Ford and Stewart-Haas. Stewart-Haas is one of the best teams in NASCAR right now, so I’m confident in our abilities. I think we’ll have a really good shot at Daytona and I’m really looking forward to it. Right now, Daytona is all about staying out of trouble and getting a solid finish. A win would be great, but a solid finish and staying out of trouble would be great, too. For the season, I would like to aim for some solid finishes to start, then make our way to the playoffs and go from there.”

Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A

 You’ve worked with a lot of veteran drivers, including championship-winning drivers Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte and Matt Kenseth. What’s it like to work with a rookie driver?“It’s really nice. It’s a new perspective and neat to see someone who is really excited about it, wants to be a part of it and puts most of his time and effort working to make it better. He goes to the wind tunnel and works all day in the shop. It’s different seeing that side of things. I’ve enjoyed every minute of it.”

What have you learned about Custer and what are your expectations for Daytona and the season?“We just want to keep improving. We want to start by consistently being a top-15 team, then a top-10 team, then a top-five team and, by the end of the season, be contenders for a championship. We’ve done one test with Cole now and I’ve really enjoyed working with him. He gives great feedback and, when you ask him questions, he has great answers. He does a great job at steering you in the direction to make the car handle better. I think we’re going to work very well together.”