Event: Ticket Galaxy 200 (Round 32 of 33)
Date: Nov. 11, 2017
Location: Phoenix Raceway
Layout: Mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
- The Ticket Galaxy 200 is the sixth of seven races in the NASCAR XFINITY Series playoffs and the third race in the second playoff round, which consists of eight drivers. Four drivers will be eliminated at the conclusion of the race, narrowing the field to a quartet of drivers who will compete in a winner-take-all championship finale Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
- Cole Custer is sixth in the XFINITY Series playoffs with 3,066 points, 37 behind series leader William Byron and 13 behind fourth-place Brennan Poole.
- In the five playoff races run thus far, Custer has two top-five finishes and four top-10s.
- The Ticket Galaxy 200 will be Custer’s second XFINITY Series start at Phoenix and his eighth overall at the mile oval. Custer has three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and three NASCAR K&N Pro Series starts at Phoenix. Custer’s best Truck Series finish is third in 2014 and, that same year, he won the K&N Pro Series race. Custer also has a K&N Series pole at Phoenix, earned in 2013 when he first competed at the track. Custer has three top-fives, five top-10s, one pole, one win and has led 111 laps in seven starts at Phoenix.
- In 37 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 finish in the 31 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 in May 2016 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
- Custer’s best qualifying effort in the 31 XFINITY Series races run this season is second, earned last Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Custer has 23 top-10 starts and 10 top-five starts this season.
- Custer is third in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 50 points behind leader William Byron and nine points behind second-place Daniel Hemric. Custer has earned nine Rookie of the Race awards this season. Rookie of the Race awards are given each race to the highest-finishing rookie.
- Last weekend at Texas, Custer cut a tire on the opening laps and battled back from a lap down to earn his second consecutive top-five at the 1.5-mile oval.
- Custer has seven top-fives and 19 top-10s in 36 career XFINITY Series starts.
- At 19 years and 9 months of age, Custer is the youngest driver in the playoffs.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
The entire team has run like a well-oiled Haas Automation machine during this year’s playoffs. Can you carry it past this weekend and into the final round at Homestead?
“I think there’s no reason why we can’t go to Phoenix and have a good run. It’s a place I’m confident at and our short-track program is starting to be where we want it. If we keep running like we have been and don’t run into bad luck, we’ll be locked into the final four.”
You have two wins at Phoenix. What is it about this track that fits your driving style?
“I’ve been lucky enough to drive some fast cars there, but I think I’ve taken to flat tracks fairly well and it’s a feel I just like. We had a quick Haas Automation Ford Mustang there earlier in the season so, with the notes we have now, we should be even quicker. ”
Are you content with where you are in the standings heading to Phoenix?
“I can’t really say I am too upset or too down going into Phoenix. It is just two weeks in a row that we had some bad luck, but there is nothing that our team could have done differently to avoid the tire issues. Last week, we cut a tire and finished fifth after going a whole lap down. I think anything is possible for us and there’s no reason why we don’t belong in the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead.”
You look to Kevin Harvick for most of your on-track advice. Does his win at Texas and incredible track record at Phoenix give you confidence heading into the weekend?
“Definitely. Stewart-Haas Racing is in a really good spot right now and we have a lot of fast racecars. So, hopefully, we can build off that and have the run we need at Phoenix. It’s an honor to be a part of such a competitive organization. Kevin and the entire team have helped me a ton along the way.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
What can we expect to see from the Haas Automation team this weekend at Phoenix?
“We have been preparing for this race for over a month now and have a good practice plan. We were around a seventh-place car the first race back in June. With our current points situation, we are going to have to be better than that. We made big improvements over the course of the year with our short-track setups, so I have confidence that we can have a strong run. We are bringing Chassis No. 1090. This is only the third race for this car. The others were Richmond and Dover.”