Fourth of July weekend will look a little bit different for the NASCAR Cup Series as it heads to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Sunday’s Brickyard 400 instead of the traditional 400-mile race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Prior to the 2020 season, Indy’s date was moved from September to the holiday weekend.
Cole Custer will make his first Cup Series start at Indianapolis in the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). Team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, Haas Tooling was launched last month as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas’ cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. Beginning July 1, HaasTooling.com products will be available nationally. The cutting tools available for purchase on HaasTooling.com are even more important during the current COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment.
Custer’s No. 41 Ford Mustang will share the HaasTooling.com livery with Autodesk Fusion 360. Autodesk is a leading designer and supplier of software for the architecture, engineering, construction, media and entertainment, and manufacturing industries. Autodesk’s Fusion 360cloud-based 3D CAD, CAM, CAE, and PCB software brings enterprise-grade capabilities, data services, and a support network to teams of any size, uniting people, products, and processes across the product development process. The company empowers customers, like Stewart-Haas Racing, to push their boundaries and shape a thriving future.
What makes the HaasTooling.com and Autodesk Fusion 360 relationship unique is that Autodesk recently integrated the ability to directly purchase Haas Tooling components from their software. “Autodesk’s Fusion 360 integration of Haas Tooling directly within Fusion’s cloud-based platform, gives engineers, CNC programmers and CNC operators direct access to Haas’ proven cutting tools, data and presets,” said Adam N. Smith, Manager, Strategic Partnerships, at Autodesk. “Haas Tooling’s integration continues to support Fusion 360’s commitment to delivering end-to-end workflows with industry-leading partners.”
The Ford driver heads into Indy coming off finishes of 16th and 17th-place during last weekend’s doubleheader at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Those two starts were his second and third Cup Series starts at the 2.5-mile triangle and resulted in his best finishes there. Custer was the highest finishing rookie in Sunday’s Pocono 350 after SHR teammate Kevin Harvick won Saturday’s Pocono Organics 325.
Even though Custer is making his first Cup Series start at Indy’s 2.5-mile oval, the young driver likes that style of track based on his experience there in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. “It’s a track where the tires wear out a lot,” Custer said. “When you’re able to wear the tires out and able to slip and slide around a bit, I always look forward to doing that. I think Indy can be a good track for my driving style.”
Custer’s first career Cup Series win would catapult him into the NASCAR All-Star Race rescheduled for Wednesday, July 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. However, the 22-year-old could earn the No. 41 Ford Mustang a spot in the race by winning the All-Star Fan Vote. Voting is open for one vote per person, per day.
Custer has three Xfinity Series starts at Indy with a best finish of fifth. With the exception of being involved in an accident in his second start in 2018, all of his results have been in the top-10. Overall, he has an average starting position of 7.3 and an average finish of 13.7 in the series at the historic track.
SHR has 35 starts at Indy, with three pole awards and two wins earned by former SHR driver Ryan Newman in July 2013 and Harvick last September. Overall, the championship winning organization has nine top-fives and 17 top-10s, along with 340 laps led at Indy.
Haas Automation, founded by Haas in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.
Even though Custer had a trio of starts in the Cup Series in 2018, 2020 officially marks his Rookie of the Year campaign in NASCAR’s most prestigious series. He’s competing for rookie honors with notables Christopher Bell and Tyler Reddick. The three have battled against each other in the Xfinity Series and are making the full-time transition to the Cup Series together.
COLE CUSTER, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Indy is one of the marquee events each year because it’s the Brickyard 400. Is it a prestigious place to you?
“Indy is one of those places that when you walk or drive in, you’re in awe. You see the museum, the Yard of Bricks, the Pagoda, everything about it, there’s so much history there. It’s always an honor to race there with how historic the track is and all of the history that’s there. Everybody loves to go there because of that reason.”
You ran quite well at Indy in the Xfinity Series with the exception of an accident one year. Do you like racing at Indy? In the past, what has been the most challenging part for you?
“Indy is a difficult track with every corner being a little bit different. You have to hit your line right. It has extremely flat and fast corners, so it’s a track where you’re always slipping and sliding around with how hot it is in the summers. It’s a fun place to run around, but you have to hit your marks and be so perfect there.”