Event: Chicagoland 300 (Round 26 of 33)
Date: Sept. 15, 2017
Location: Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois
Layout: 1.5-mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
- The Chicagoland 300 will mark Cole Custer’s 30th career NASCAR XFINITY Series start and his first XFINITY Series start at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois. Custer earned a top-10 in his first and only NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start at the 1.5-mile oval.
- The Chicagoland 300 will be the regular-season finale before the seven-race, three-round playoff format begins at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Custer has clinched his spot in the 2017 XFINITY Series Playoffs in his first attempt with Stewart-Haas Racing, which launched its XFINITY Series team this season.
- Custer’s best finish in the 25 XFINITY Series races run this season is fourth, earned in the 11th race of the year June 3 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. It was his 14th top-10 finish, fifth top-five, and equaled his career-best finish in 30 career XFINITY Series starts.
- Custer’s best qualifying effort in the 25 XFINITY Series races run this season is third, earned twice – April 22 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and June 10 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Custer has 17 top-10 starts and seven top-five starts this season.
- In eight XFINITY Series starts and nine Camping World Truck Series starts at 1.5-mile tracks, Custer has three top-five finishes and nine top-10s. Custer has earned three top-10s this season at 1.5-mile tracks – Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (fifth), Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (seventh) and Atlanta Motor Speedway (10th).
- Custer is third in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 64 points behind leader William Byron and 11 points behind second-place Daniel Hemric. Custer has earned six Rookie of the Race awards this season, three of which have come at 1.5-mile tracks – fifth at Texas, seventh at Charlotte and 11th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- Custer has been the highest-finishing XFINITY Series regular driver in four races this season – Charlotte, Dover, Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Texas.
- Custer is sixth in the XFINITY Series driver standings, 277 points behind series leader Elliot Sadler.
- Custer has earned four top-five finishes, 12 top-10s, and has led 29 laps in the 2017 XFINITY Series season.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
What are your thoughts on Chicagoland Speedway?
“I’ve only raced at Chicago once, but the time I went there it was one of my favorite tracks. It’s worn out, a little rough, and you can run a lot of different lines, so it makes it one of the more fun tracks we go to.”
Are you looking forward to getting back to an intermediate track?
“Yeah. I think the intermediate tracks have been really good for us and our Haas Automation Ford Mustang. Hopefully, we can bring the same kind of consistency. I think we’ve put a lot of emphasis on our bodies and chassis at the intermediate tracks and have tested at a few, as well. Some of our best finishes this year have been at intermediate tracks, so I think we’ll get one more shot at a regular-season win with a fast car.”
You’re locked into the playoffs in your first season with a brand new XFINITY Series team. What does this mean to you and what do you focus on next?
“It’s incredible. Our first goal of the year was just to make the XFINITY Series playoffs. At the start of the year, we really had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. No one knew what to really expect. It was awesome to find some speed this year and hopefully we can fine tune what we’ve built and make a solid run through the playoffs. For Chicagoland, I think it’s all about winning. I just wanted to win a race before the end of the year, and last week was kind of heartbreaking because we just had the track go away from us toward the end. Going forward, the main goal is to just get some playoff points heading in so we can set ourselves up for a good run.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
What are your thoughts on the new composite body you ran last weekend in Richmond?
“We didn’t have any issues at all with the new body. It really seemed to run well at Richmond. Our plan is to turn this car around for Dover with very minimal work. I think NASCAR did a really good job with the design and working with the teams to make it a success.”