Event: Use Your Melon. Drive Sober 200 (Round 28 of 33)
Date: Sept. 30, 2017
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway
Layout: Concrete, mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
- The Use Your Melon. Drive Sober 200 will be the second of seven races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs. It will also mark Cole Custer’s 33rd career NASCAR XFINITY Series start and his second XFINITY Series start at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
- Custer is tied with Justin Allgaier for first place in the XFINITY Series Playoffs with 2,057 points, two points ahead of second-place Elliot Sadler.
- In Custer’s seven overall starts at Dover, three are in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts, two are in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and one is in the XFINITY Series. Custer’s best overall finish at Dover is fourth, earned in this year’s XFINITY Series race June 3. It tied his career-best XFINITY Series finish and was his 16th top-10 and sixth top-five in 32 XFINITY Series starts.
- In the 2015 Truck Series race at Dover, Custer led 67 laps and ran in and around the top-five until lap 138 when a fueling issue pushed him off the lead lap and into the 13th position, where he would ultimately finish the race.
- In 32 XFINITY Series starts, 42 Camping World Truck Series starts and 29 K&N Pro Series starts since 2015, Custer has five wins, six poles, 14 top-five finishes, 25 top-10s and 919 laps led at tracks that are a mile in length or shorter.
- Custer’s best qualifying effort in the 27 XFINITY Series races run this season is third, earned three times – April 22 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, June 10 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and Sept. 23 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Custer has 19 top-10 starts and nine top-five starts this season.
- Custer is third in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 52 points behind leader William Byron and 12 points behind second-place Daniel Hemric. Custer has earned seven Rookie of the Race awards this season, including at Dover earlier this season.
- Last weekend at Kentucky Speedway, Custer won Stages 1-2 for his first career XFINITY Series stage wins. He led the field for 49 laps and earned two playoff points on his way to a fifth-place finish.
- Custer has earned 15 top-10s, five top-fives and has led 119 laps so far in the 2017 season.
- Custer will pilot chassis No. 1090 in the second race of the playoffs. Chassis No. 1090 holds the new flange-fit composite body that was used at Richmond (Va.) Raceway two weeks ago where Custer ran in and around the top-10 for the majority of the race.
- The playoffs are divided into three rounds, with the first two rounds consisting of three races apiece and the final, single-race round being the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Four drivers are eliminated after each round to ultimately establish four finalists to decide the championship at Homestead. Drivers automatically qualify for the next round with a win in the current playoff round, with the remaining spots determined by point standings. At Homestead, the top-finishing driver among the four finalists wins the title.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
Your best finish of your 2017 NASCAR XFINITY Series career came at Dover earlier this season. Why do you run so well there?
“I’ve always been a fan of the concrete tracks. There’s a lot of speed and a lot of banking. Dover is somewhere I’ve always run well at, but I’ve never really gotten the finishes I would’ve liked. It seems like we’ve always been in the fight for a win there. I’m looking forward to getting back there in our Haas Automation Ford Mustang and logging another solid finish.”
Is there a level of confidence heading to tracks for the second time this season?
“Yes. Coming back to a place for the second time at Kentucky, we found so many things that I’ve liked and that our team has found speed in with our team running week to week. It’s just incorporating those things that I’ve found to like. From practice to race, I think we just kind of fine tune what we have. We’re confident heading back to Dover with the notes we have, especially after our performance last weekend at Kentucky. We finished fourth earlier in the year, so hopefully we can do that again, or better.”
Describe a qualifying lap at Dover.
“You come in shaking. It’s pretty crazy. You’re getting all that you can out of it and you’re just on edge the whole time. It’s so fast for such a small place.”
Is there any major difference in the feel of the flange-fit composite body?
“Not that I can tell. I had no issues with it at Richmond, so I’m looking forward to running it again at Dover.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
Last weekend the Haas Automation Ford team earned two playoff points after Custer won Stages 1-2. Are stage wins the goal in the playoffs?
“Stage wins have been on our radar all season. We’ve been improving each week and now have the speed it takes to contend for them. Those two points will be nice in the next round, but the 20 extra points we gained for this round gave us a little cushion to help get through the next two races.”
What car are you bringing to the second round of the playoffs this weekend at Dover?
“We are bringing the same car we ran at Richmond, chassis No. 1090. We had a lot of good speed out of that Haas Automation Mustang, but didn’t get the finish we wanted. This will be the second race for this car with the new composite body. I think NASCAR did a really good job with the design and working with the teams to make the composite bodies a success”