Event: NXS 300 (Round 5 of 33)
Date: March 25, 2017
Location: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California
Layout: 2-mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
- The NXS 300 will mark Cole Custer’s 10th career NASCAR XFINITY Series start and his first XFINITY Series start at his hometown track, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California.
- Custer was born and raised in Ladera Ranch, California, where he began his racing career turning laps at local short tracks including Orange Show Speedway in San Bernardino and I-10 Speedway in Blythe.
- Custer is no stranger to winning at California tracks where he has never competed. In 2012, Custer won his first start at I-10 Speedway in the Late Model Stock Car division.
- In 2005, Custer won six races in the Jr. Novice Series at Pomona Valley on his way to winning the Quarter Midget championship in the Jr. Novice Series. Custer would go on to win Quarter Midget championships in the Sr. Honda and Sr. Stock Divisions four years later.
- In 2011, Custer became the United States Auto Club (USAC) National Young Gun Champion, winning 15 of 22 races.
- Custer is currently 12th in the XFINITY Series championship standings, 66 points behind series leader Elliot Sadler.
- Custer’s best finish in the four XFINITY Series races run thus far is 10th, earned in the second race of the season March 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was his third top-10 finish in nine career XFINITY Series starts.
- Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool manufacturer in North America and sponsor of Custer’s No. 00 Ford Mustang, is headquartered just two hours from Auto Club Speedway in Oxnard, California. Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation Inc., first opened for business in Sun Valley, California, in 1983 machining parts for the electronics and aerospace industries.
During this time, Haas developed a fully-programmable 5C collet indexer to boost productivity in his own shop. The Haas 5C was the industry’s first device to automatically re-position parts accurately for machining by simply pressing a button, as opposed to having to reposition the material by hand – a cumbersome and time-consuming process. The machine-tool industry received the economical and reliable Haas 5C Indexer with enthusiasm, and in 1983, Haas Automation, Inc., was born. The company started with three employees in a 5,000-square-foot facility. During the next four years, Haas expanded his product line to include a wide selection of fully-programmable rotary tables, indexers and machine-tool accessories. Haas Automation quickly became the leader in fourth- and fifth-axis parts positioning.
In 1987, Haas took what he learned from the 5C Indexer and designed and developed his first vertical machining center (VMC) – the VF-1. The prototype was introduced to the manufacturing world in 1988 at the International Machine Tool Show (IMTS) in Chicago. Haas listed the machine at the unheard of price of $49,900. Industry experts were skeptical that an American company could manufacture and sell a machine tool for less than $50,000. Haas Automation silenced the skeptics. The new product was a success. Today, virtually every manufacturer of vertical machining centers worldwide produces a similar machine in the $50,000 price range.
Over the next five years, Haas Automation began to grow. In 1992, Haas Automation moved to a larger facility in Chatsworth, California, to keep up with demand. In 1997, again seeking to keep up with the success of its growing product line and production demands, Haas Automation moved once more, to its current location in Oxnard where all of its products are manufactured. The 1-million-square-foot facility is one of the largest, most modern machine tool manufacturing operations in the United States. Haas Automation currently produces four major product lines: vertical machine centers (VMCs), horizontal machine centers (HMCs), computer numeric control (CNC) lathes and rotary tables.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
What are your expectations for the NXS 300?
“We’ve had some solid cars the last few weeks that I feel have been top-10 every single week. Our goal is to go into this weekend with a top-five car and make a solid top-five run. I’ve never been to Fontana before, but hopefully I can learn it pretty fast. It looks like we’ll have a great Haas Automation Ford Mustang this weekend. It would be great to bring home a solid finish for the team.”
What does it mean to race at your hometown track in California?
“It means a lot. I’ve never raced there before, so it will definitely be cool. I’ve had some friends come out for a couple of races on the West Coast swing and we’ll have a lot of family in California, so it will be cool having a lot of support there. I’m really looking forward to seeing what it’s like at my hometown track.”
Talk about growing up in Ladera Ranch, California, where racing wasn’t exactly on the main stage.
“A lot of the kids my age didn’t know a lot about racing, so it was kind of weird because you couldn’t relate to people, sometimes. I was pretty much the only person in my whole school who liked racing, so it was out of the ordinary, but I always had my dad who was really into it. A lot of people supported what I was doing because it was so different, but you always looked forward to going back East and seeing all those guys where racing was big. You have a lot of great drivers who come out of California, so it wasn’t a bad place to grow up.”
Do you attribute your success to growing up around the local tracks in California?
“A little bit. There were a lot of great Quarter Midget tracks and short tracks that helped me learn, and I’ll always appreciate that. It’s all about what you do with it, what you make of it and what opportunities you get, so growing up in California was definitely a great thing for me.”
Besides racing, what was life in California like?
“I was never the average ‘California Kid.’ I didn’t care for the beach as much as everyone else, but I loved hanging out with my friends and doing average things outside of racing. I grew up playing football, baseball and soccer, so I always had friends through that, as well as friends in racing. Other than having to travel so much, I lived a pretty normal life. Those are things you can never experience again, so I’m thankful to have been able to grow up that way.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
What are your thoughts for the upcoming NXS 300 at Auto Club Speedway?
“California is Cole’s hometown track, so there will be a lot of pressure there for us. I’m sure he’ll have a lot of friends and family. Auto Club Speedway is such a large track and you have to deal with the bumps down the backstretch that are really rough, and then you’ve got such long sweeping corners. It’s a big compromise between setting your car up for downforce to handle through the corners. Then, as big as it is, you’ve got to take as much drag out almost similar to a superspeedway. It’s kind of a difficult track to set up for, but we’re looking forward to it.”