COLE CUSTER – 2018 Las Vegas I Race Advance

February 28th, 2018

Event:               Boyd Gaming 300 (Round 3 of 33)
Date:                 March 3, 2018
Location:          Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Layout:             1.5-mile oval

 

Cole Custer Notes of Interest

 

  • The Boyd Gaming 300 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is the second of 11 races on 1.5-mile tracks on the 33-race NASCAR Xfinity Series schedule.
  • Custer has competed in two career races at Las Vegas – one last year in the Xfinity Series and one in the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Custer finished 11th in the Xfinity Series start and third in his Truck Series start. 
  • In 16 Xfinity Series starts and nine NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts at 1.5-mile ovals, Custer has one win, six top-five finishes and 14 top-10s. 
  • Custer earned four top-five finishes in the Xfinity Series last season at 1.5-mile tracks – April 8 and Nov. 4 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (fifth each time), Sept. 23 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta (fifth) and Nov. 18 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (first). He also finished in the top-10 at three other venues – March 4 at Atlanta Motor Speedway (10th), May 27 and Oct. 7 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway (seventh and sixth, respectively) and Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Illinois (seventh).
  • This weekend, NASCAR is headed West. Custer, a native of Ladera Ranch, California, grew up racing in grassroots series across the Western United States. He began racing at the Bullring at Las Vegas in 2011, earning a victory in the USAC Young Gun division to help him secure the USAC National Focus Young Gun championship. Then, in 2012, he became the youngest Late Model division winner at the Bullring, also earning the NASCAR Nevada Rookie of the Year title.
  • 00 Haas Automation Ford crew chief Jeff Meendering isn’t a stranger to success at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Meendering was the NASCAR Cup Series crew chief for Bobby Labonte throughout the 2008 season, earning a 17th-place finish at Las Vegas in his third race with the team. He has come close to victory lane at the 1.5-mile oval as a car chief for Jeff Gordon, earning a fourth-place finish in 2005, a fifth-place finish in 2006 and a second-place finish in 2007.
  • In 2017, Custer led the Xfinity Series with 422 points at mile-and-a-half tracks.
  • Custer is 25th in the Xfinity Series standings with 25 points.
  • Last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway, Custer started fourth and ran within the top-three during the opening laps. On lap 11, he was contacted by another car, sending his Haas Automation Ford into the wall, ultimately ending his day. His Stewart-Haas Racing with Biagi-DenBeste teammate Kevin Harvick brought the Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford Mustang to victory lane after dominating all three stages of the race.
  • Custer will pull a double-duty weekend by making his Cup Series debut Sunday at Las Vegas driving the No. 51 Haas Automation Ford Fusion for Rick Ware Racing.

 

Cole Custer, Driver Q&A

 

Describe a lap behind the wheel at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“It’s pretty much just really fast and you’re wide open. You’re going to start racing around the bottom, but you’ll be able to move around a bit by the end of the day. The biggest challenge is just trying to get used to the edgy feeling that you’re going to have from running wide open.”

You grew up racing on the West Coast and even at the Bullring at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. What are you most looking forward to about heading closer to home and about racing at Las Vegas?

“It’s definitely going home for me, so it’s cool to see some friends throughout the West Coast swing. I’ve been to Vegas a lot of times, so it’s a familiar territory and it’s awesome to race at the speedway. I definitely ran a lot of races at the Bullring and it was a really fun track to race on. It was neat because I would look at the big track and think about racing there someday, but I was just the smaller guy working my way up back then and hoping to race there one day and now I’m actually racing there. It’s pretty humbling to think I’ve come this far.”

You survived Daytona with a top-15, but ran into some bad luck in Atlanta. How do you mentally prepare yourself heading into a race weekend? Do you have more confidence heading to a 1.5-mile track this weekend?

“I don’t think I’ll change a ton going into this weekend because we mostly just struggled with bad luck. It will be important to focus on the little things a lot more because of running double duty and we have a great mile-and-a-half car, so hopefully we can have a strong run.”

 

Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A

 

Are you confident you’ll bounce back heading to another 1.5-mile track after this weekend at Atlanta?

“We ran in to bad luck last year at the start of the season and still made it to the playoffs and won at Homestead. We’re confident that we can make up the points and contend for a championship. We had a good run last year at Las Vegas and we have some notes to bring back. We’re looking for a strong run from the Haas Automation Ford Mustang this weekend.”