Event: California (Round 5 of 33)
Date: March 17, 2018
Location: Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California
Layout: 2-mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
- The California 300 will mark Cole Custer’s second NASCAR 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 Senior Honda and Senior Stock divisions four years later.
- In 2011, Custer became the United States Auto Club National Young Gun champion, winning 15 of 22 races.
- Custer has earned two top-10 finishes this season – earned consecutively at Atlanta Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
- In Custer’s only Xfinity Series start at Fontana, he ran consistently inside the top-10 until he was involved in an accident on lap 106.
- Custer is 11th in the Xfinity Series championship standings with 100 points.
- The No. 00 Haas Automation Mustang will run a special check donation decal on the deck lid this weekend. The Gene Haas Foundation announced a $7 million dollar Scholarship donation to STEM CNC machining schools Tuesday.
- During the week leading into the California 300 at Fontana, Custer’s scheduled included a visit to Loma Linda Children’s Hospital, racing at the K1 Speed Go Karting complex with students from the Lefty’s Kids Club, and joining fans during a hauler parade at 6 p.m. Thursday at the track.
- Custer will be welcomed home with a special ticket package. The Welcome Home Cole Custer ticket package includes a $10 ticket to the California 300, a free No. 00 hat and signed hero card, and admission to a Q&A with Custer in the Fan Zone. Tickets can be purchased by visiting AutoClubSpeedway.com/Cole.
- 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.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
Are you excited to return to your home track with some experience under your belt?
“I can’t wait to hit the track this weekend and see what we can put together. Last year, we had a great car and the Haas Automation team found a lot of speed. We just have to stay out of trouble and be there in the end this time. A win here would be special to me because I’ll have a lot of friends and family out at the track cheering me on. It’s also Haas Automation’s home track, so getting a win in their backyard would be incredible.”
How cool is it to have a ticket package named after your return home to California?
“It’s just cool to be a part of something like this because it shows how much support you can get from your local community. It’s only $10 and you get a ton of free things and a great experience. It gives me extra motivation to get out there and bring the Haas Automation Ford to victory lane for my hometown fans.”
You were a part of a huge donation to STEM CNC machining schools with the Gene Haas Foundation. What was that like?
“It was an amazing experience because we were able to give back to something that directly impacts students trying to apply themselves to STEM-related jobs. The Gene Haas Foundation donated $7 million to STEM students and schools. Being a Haas CNC machinist seems like an incredible opportunity in the workforce and it’s great to be able to say you had a hand in helping students steer their paths in that direction.”
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 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
Are you more confident this time around heading to Cole’s home track?
“I’m confident because we had a great setup there last year and now we have a full season under our belts. Last year, we were still developing our program. He had a lot of speed in the car last year but got caught in an accident. I think we’ll go out there and contend for a win.”