After taking last weekend off, the NASCAR Cup Series season returns to action this weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, where Cole Custer and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com team will race in Sunday’s Foxwoods Resort Casino 301 in his 23rd career Cup Series start.
The New England market has some of the most passionate motorsports fans, and the “The Magic Mile” is usually packed with racing each day from Modified cars to the Cup Series. Unfortunately, the schedule is abbreviated this weekend due to COVID-19 restrictions. However, with New Hampshire Gov. Chris Sununu’s approval, a limited number of fans will be allowed to watch Sunday’s 318-mile event live from the grandstands.
New Hampshire is the site of Custer’s first NASCAR national series win. He won the September 2014 Gander RV & Outdoor Truck Series race for not only his first big win, but a record-setting one as he became the youngest winner in the series at just 16 years, 7 months, and 28 days old. Custer started on the pole, led 148 laps and won the race by a 1.148-second margin while driving the No. 00 entry. In addition to his first win, Custer also has two other starts in the Truck Series at New Hampshire.
The HaasTooling.com driver also has three New Hampshire outings in the NASCAR Xfinity Series at New Hampshire, with one pole award and one runner-up finish, both in July of last year. All three ended with top-10 finishes.
With Custer’s Cup Series July 12 win at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, he became one of 10 drivers who have won in each of NASCAR’s top three national series, as well as in ARCA and NASCAR’s developmental K&N Pro Series.
Last Thursday night at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Custer started 24th and battled a loose-handling Mustang but ultimately finished seventh. The result marked his fourth top-10 of the season.
Team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, Haas Tooling, was 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. Beginning July 1, HaasTooling.com products became available nationally. The cutting tools available for purchase at HaasTooling.com are even more important during the current COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment.
There are seven races left in the regular season before the playoffs start Sept. 6 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, and Custer’s win at Kentucky earned him one of the coveted playoff spots. He currently holds a playoff spot along with SHR teammate Kevin Harvick, who has multiple wins this season.
In 62 starts at New Hampshire, SHR has five victories – team co-owner Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman both in 2011, and Harvick with a trio of wins in 2016, 2018 and 2019. In total at the Granite State track, SHR has 15 top-fives, 27 top-10s and 1,166 laps led.
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 is the first of the 2020 rookie class to earn a win this season.
Cole Custer: Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing:
New Hampshire is the site of your first big win back in the Truck Series in 2014. What does it feel like to have come so far, now?
“It feels good to be where I am today. Back when I was 16 and won that race, I really had no clue what I was doing when it came to stuff outside of the truck, like media. I’m much more comfortable now. It’s almost hard for me to believe that this is where I’m at and how much has changed in the last few years.”
What do you think about the live lobster that New Hampshire gives the winner as a trophy?
“I think it’s a cool trophy because it’s so unique. I haven’t put a ton of thought into what I might do with it yet. I like to eat crustaceans but I’m not sure what I would do with that gigantic lobster. I hear the big lobsters don’t actually taste very good. If I win it, then I’ll have to decide.”
Now that we’re more than halfway through the season and you have one win under your belt, do you feel like you are where you want to be as part of the rookie class?
“At the start of the year, I felt a little bit behind. I don’t think I caught on to the car as quick as the other rookies. I feel much better now with where I’m at. It’s been fun to move up with this group of guys though. We’re all friendly and all good at different things. Tyler (Reddick) is really good at running the top line, and I’m good at a different things, so it has been neat to see how everyone has progressed.”