Event: Sparks Energy 300 (Round 8 of 33)
Date: April 28, 2018
Location: Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway
Layout: 2.66-mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
- Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300 will mark Cole Custer’s third Xfinity Series start at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.
- Custer is competing for his seventh consecutive top-10 finish of the season. He ranks second in the series in top-10s this season.
- Custer leads the Xfinity Series with an average starting position of 5.1.
- No Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers are eligible to race in the Sparks Energy 300 Xfinity Series race at Talladega.
- Custer’s best finish in the seven Xfinity Series races run this season is his fourth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.
- Custer has one win, nine top-five finishes, 27 top-10s and has led 350 laps in 46 career Xfinity Series starts.
- Custer is sixth in the Xfinity Series driver standings with 181 points, 47 behind leader Elliot Sadler.
- Custer will be joined by Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Chase Briscoe in the No. 98 Ford Performance Ford Mustang.
- Custer has earned two consecutive pole awards, six consecutive top-10s, one top-five and has led 48 laps thus far in the 2018 season.
- Last weekend at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, Custer led the first 43 laps of the Richmond 250 and finished sixth.
- The top-four finishers in last weekend’s Richmond 250 are eligible for the Dash 4 Cash at Talladega. The top finisher of the four drivers will win a $100,000 cash prize. Custer competed in the Dash 4 Cash at Bristol but was two positions short in Richmond to qualify this weekend.
- Custer has competed in six restrictor-plate races – one this season in the Xfinity Series at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and two last year at Daytona and Talladega. He also competed once at each track in the Camping World Truck Series and once at Daytona in the ARCA Series. His best Truck Series finish was 24th at Daytona and his best ARCA finish was 10th at Daytona.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
Do you enjoy close-quarter superspeedway racing?
“It’s fun to go superspeedway racing just because it’s something so different than what we usually do. You’re on the edge of your seat every single lap and your adrenaline levels are so high, so it’s fun to have that challenge”
How do you position yourself for success at Talladega?
“It’s almost impossible to come up with a good strategy for Talladega because it gets so crazy, but it seems like the best thing is to try and stay up front and out of trouble. You never know when a huge wreck will erupt and you always have to keep your head on a swivel to try and avoid it. Sometimes a good finish at Talladega comes down to pure luck if you can’t lead every lap.”
Have you grown in your ability to draft and pack race with the Xfinity Series cars since last year?
“I feel like I’ve definitely gotten better at pack racing. Daytona was pretty big for me because we got to run all the laps and get some experience. It was a learning curve competing to the Xfinity cars for the first time last year, but I think I’ve grown a lot in my ability and I’m looking forward to navigating my way through traffic if I have to.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
What are your thoughts and expectations on racing at Talladega?
“Superspeedway racing bit us every race since we started last season, so going in with a points cushion takes a lot of pressure off. We are bringing chassis No. 719, which we raced in Daytona last year. It has a new front clip and our body shop hung a really good looking updated body on it. Hopefully we can turn our speedway luck around this weekend.”
What does the car need to perform to the highest standard at Talladega?
“With the restricted engines, it’s essential that everything in the driveline is moving free with the least amount of friction. We use Mobil 1 engine oil, Mobil 1 gear lube in the transmission and rear gear, and Mobil 1 grease in the hubs. Having a technical partner like Mobil 1 is an extreme advantage for our team – especially at restrictor plate races when everything has to run perfectly to turn quick laps.”