Event: Kansas Lottery 300 (Round 30 of 33)
Date: Oct. 21, 2017
Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City
Layout: 1.5-mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
- The Kansas Lottery 300 is the fourth of seven races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs and the first race in the second playoff round. Four drivers will be eliminated at the conclusion of the three-race round, narrowing the field to four drivers who will compete for a winner-take-all championship battle in the season finale Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
- Cole Custer is fifth in the XFINITY Series Playoffs with 3,007 points, 19 points behind series leader William Byron. Custer starts the second round of the playoffs with two bonus points, earned by his two stage wins in the Sept. 23 race at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
- Kansas Speedway is the ninth of 11 1.5-mile tracks on the 2017 XFINITY Series schedule. Custer leads the 2017 XFINITY Series regular season drivers in points at 1.5-mile tracks with 303, he leads the series with a 7.8 average finish at 1.5-mile tracks, and he has led the most laps at 1.5-mile tracks this season with 90.
- Custer is competing for his fifth consecutive top-10 finish. He has earned 10 top-10s in the last 13 races and three top-10s in the first three playoff races.
- In 12 XFINITY Series starts and nine NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at 1.5-mile ovals, Custer has four top-five finishes and 12 top-10s. Custer has earned two top-fives this season at 1.5-mile tracks – Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on April 8 (fifth) and Kentucky Speedway in Sparta on Sept. 23 (fifth) – and finished in the top-10 at three other venues – Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 4 (10th), Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway on May 27 (seventh) and Oct. 7 (sixth), and Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois on Sept. 16 (seventh).
- Custer’s best finish in the 29 XFINITY Series races run this season is fourth, earned in the 11th race of the year June 3 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The result equaled Custer’s best career XFINITY Series finish, which he earned in his series debut at Charlotte in May 2016.
- Custer has six top-fives and 18 top-10s in 34 career XFINITY Series starts.
- At 19 years and 8 months old, Custer is the youngest driver in the playoffs.
- Custer’s best qualifying effort in the 29 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. Custer has 21 top-10 starts and nine top-five starts this season.
- Custer is third in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 51 points behind leader William Byron and 15 points behind second-place Daniel Hemric. Custer has earned eight Rookie of the Race awards this season, three having come at 1.5-mile tracks (fifth at Texas, 11th Las Vegas Motor Speedway and sixth at Charlotte). Rookie of the Race awards are given to the highest-finishing rookie.
- The Kansas Lottery 300 will mark Custer’s 35th career XFINITY Series start and his third XFINITY Series start at Kansas.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
You lead the XFINITY Series at 1.5-mile tracks and there are still three more of them to visit in the playoffs. Are you confident that you will perform well at the remainder of the intermediate tracks, and does this give you an advantage on the others?
“Mile-and-a-half tracks are what our Haas Automation/Code 3 Associates team looks forward to the most, and there’s no reason why we can’t go out and compete for wins at all of them. It’s going to be a tough round, so having some mile-and-a-half tracks will help us a lot.”
Not only are you in the playoffs for the first time, but you have advanced to the second round. How does a 19-year-old rookie feel after starting the season at Stewart-Haas Racing?
“It’s been pretty crazy to see how hard everyone has worked throughout the season to get us to where we are now. It would mean the world to our whole team to get to the final round in Homestead.”
Is it tough being a single-car team with minimal help in the majority of the races this season?
“Being a single-car team makes it a little bit harder on us. You don’t have a lot of teammates to rely on. Kevin (Harvick) runs the XFINITY car from time to time, so that helps a lot and we’ve learned a ton from it. I rely on Kevin the most. I ask him for advice going into pretty much every weekend about the track and what to expect going into it, especially these playoff races. I’ve never been in the playoffs before, so I asked him about what to expect. These guys have definitely helped me a ton and I don’t know if we would be as good without them.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
What are your expectations heading to another intermediate track where the team has run so well?
“We are bringing the car we ran really well with at Chicago, Chassis No. 1044. We feel that we have a good shot at winning this race. Cole has a lot of confidence in himself and that particular racecar. This round of the playoffs is tough. We know that we have to run up front in the next three races if we want to have a shot at a championship.”