COLE CUSTER – 2017 Darlington Race Advance

Event:               Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 (Round 24 of 33)
Date:                 Sep. 2, 2017
Location:          Darlington (S.C.) Raceway
Layout:             1.366-mile oval

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

    • The Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 will mark Cole Custer’s 29th career NASCAR XFINITY Series start and his first ever start at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. 
    • Darlington Raceway will mark Custer’s sixth track of the season where he will race for the first time. At the previous five – Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin and Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth – he has earned two top-five finishes and three top-10s. 
    • This weekend, Darlington will host the third annual NASCAR “Throwback Weekend.” In conjunction with teams, the track is showcasing iconic paint schemes, personalities and moments from the mid-to-late 1980s.
    • Custer and Stewart-Haas Racing are recognizing two-time XFINITY Series champion Sam Ard and emulating his 1983 and 1984 championship-winning racecar via a throwback paint scheme on the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang.
    • Custer’s best finish in the 23 XFINITY Series races run this season is fourth, earned June 3 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. It was his 13th top-10 and fifth top-five and it equaled his career-best finish.
    • Custer’s best qualifying effort in the 23 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 13 top-10 starts and three top-five starts this season.
    • Custer has earned four top-five finishes, 11 top-10s and has led 29 laps so far in the 2017 XFINITY Series season.
    • Custer is third in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 57 points behind leader William Byron and five points behind second-place Daniel Hemric.
    • Custer has earned six Rookie of the Race awards this season. Rookie of the Race awards are given to the highest-finishing XFINITY Series rookie at each race.
    • Custer is sixth in the XFINITY Series driver standings, 276 points behind series leader Elliott Sadler.

 

Cole Custer, Driver Q&A

 

How special is it to honor Sam Ard in the official throwback weekend of NASCAR at Darlington Raceway?

“The double-zero number has been part of my entire NASCAR career and, over the years, I’ve gotten to know its history and met some of the people who worked with Sam and saw him race. The more I learn about Sam and all that he accomplished, the more impressive it becomes. I feel like I’m driving his car and I want to make him and his family proud. Guys like Sam Ard helped shape the sport into what it is today. Without him, I don’t know if the opportunity to drive racecars for a living would exist. I’m grateful for it and I’d like him and his family to know it. I would like to emulate his actions on and off the track. Usually, the guys who dominate the series aren’t the most liked drivers. Sam Ard was a rare case where fans actually cheered for a driver who won so much. He was respected on the track and all through the garage.”

What are your expectations coming to Darlington Raceway for the first time? 

“We’re just hoping Sam’s success rubs off on us a little bit this weekend. Hopefully there’s still some luck left in that 00 paint scheme. We tested a pretty good car there so I’m optimistic about the weekend and we’re going to do all we can to keep it up front. It was funny, though. The first day of testing I didn’t hit the wall. The second day I hit the wall just about an inch on my rear-quarter panel. Then I hit a foot, and then the whole quarter panel. I hit it about three times, but never too bad. That’s why they call it a test, though.”

What were your initial thoughts on Darlington when you tested, and what have you learned that you will bring back here in the Sport Clips VFW 200?  

“My first impression of Darlington was that it was just a real racetrack. Darlington is a place where you really have to drive it and you really have to be up on the wheel and pay respect to every single lap out there. It’s a really cool place to run and its’s challenging. I wish we had more tracks like Darlington.”

What are your thoughts on the throwback-themed race weekend at Darlington?

“I think the throwback weekend is something that NASCAR and Darlington need to keep doing. It’s really good for the sport right now. It takes us back to our roots and reminds us of where this sport came from. Being able to honor people like Sam Ard, who helped pioneer the sport, is humbling.”

 

Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A

 

What are your thoughts on the No. 00 throwback paint scheme and do you think you will have the same success as Sam did? 

“I am really excited we chose to run this paint scheme. It is an honor to support such an iconic era of racing where Sam Ard dominated the XFINITY Series and helped pioneer the sport. We should have a lot of people cheering for us in Sam’s home state. We had a good test at Darlington in May so, hopefully, we can make his family and all of his fans proud.”