By capturing his first career NASCAR Cup Series win Sunday at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Cole Custer locked himself and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) into Wednesday night’s NASCAR All-Star Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The win also means HaasTooling.com is offering 15% off purchases from their website by using the code “Kentucky.”
SHR has two entries locked into the $1 million-to-win exhibition event by virtue of race wins. Custer’s teammate Kevin Harvick has multiple wins this season. SHR’s Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer have the opportunity to race their way in via the All-Star Open, which precedes the All-Star Race, or by winning the NASCAR.com fan vote. “This is a great opportunity for the No. 41 team and all of our sponsors,” said Custer’s crew chief Mike Shiplett. “Everybody puts in so much effort and to know that we’re already locked into the All-Star Race is huge.”
Winning the $1 million first prize would go a long way for Custer, who has just 20 Cup Series starts. The All-Star Race will consist of four stages for a total of 140 laps at the Tennessee short track. The All-Star Race will also feature a choose cone rule, where drivers will have the opportunity to select which lane they want to restart in as long as they make the decision before they reach the designated spot on the track as determined by NASCAR. Making the decision after the designated spot will incur a penalty for the driver. “I think the choose cone will put a lot into the driver’s hands,” Custer said. “It’ll be interesting when you dominate one lane at the track, but who knows. You’re going to have decide how much risk you want to take – which lane has been really good, and how even they are. It’s going to change throughout the race, which lane you’ll want to take, and that will keep it interesting.”
Additionally, fans will notice all cars locked into the main event on Wednesday will have lights glowing underneath as they shine down on the racetrack. “It’s pretty unbelievable to be locked into the All-Star Race on Wednesday,” Custer said. “I only have to focus on the main event, versus the Open, too. I’ll have the light shining underneath my car and that’s cool.”
The 22-year-old raced at Bristol for the first time in the Cup Series on May 31. Custer started 22nd but finished 35th after getting caught up in a multicar accident. The All-Star Race is usually held at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway in May, but was moved to this week at Bristol due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Since the All-Star Race provides the opportunity to change things up a little bit, the paint schemes on the racecars will feature the car number in a noticeably different place, moved rearward from the traditional spot centered on the door panel. That is intended to allow sponsor logos to be more centered along the side of the car. The No. 41 livery will be shared this weekend by HaasTooling.com and Autodesk Fusion 360. Team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding Haas Tooling was recently launched 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. 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.
Autodesk is a leading designer and supplier of software for the architecture, engineering, construction, media and entertainment, and manufacturing industries. Autodesk’s Fusion 360 cloud-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 SHR, 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 via its 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.”
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. Custer’s win at Kentucky made him the first 2020 rookie candidate to capture a win this season.
COLE CUSTER, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com/Autodesk Fusion 360 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
How does it feel to be locked into the All-Star Race?
“I was a little nervous originally thinking I was going to have to race in the Open. Bristol isn’t easy and there are a lot of good guys in the Open this year. To already be locked into the All-Star Race takes a lot of stress off. It’ll be fun to race for one million dollars. We were pretty solid at Bristol (in May) but ended up getting wrecked.”
You’re the first of this year’s “big three” in the rookie class to get a win. What does it feel like?
“I’m very thankful. I’m with an amazing team that has stuck behind me when we’ve had some tough races – really tough races. It’s definitely been a learning experience, but I think we’ve grown from that and dug deep to figure out how to get better each race. It’s just unbelievable to be in this situation. Coming into this year, I was just trying to gain respect, and fit in, and earn the respect of the other drivers. To get a win already is almost unimaginable.”