Event: Johnsonville 180 (Round 23 of 33)
Date: Aug. 27, 2017
Location: Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin
Layout: 4-mile, 14-turn road course
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
- The Johnsonville 180 will mark Cole Custer’s 27th career NASCAR XFINITY Series start and his first XFINITY Series start at Road America.
- Custer comes into Road America with only two road-course starts in the XFINITY Series, both of which came this year at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International and Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, respectively, with a best finish of 12th at Watkins Glen. However, Custer has a total of 13 road-course starts spread across the XFINITY Series, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West. His best road-course effort came in 2016 when he won the pole for the Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and led a race-high 39 laps before finishing second to John Hunter Nemechek by just .034 of a second in a door-banging, tire-smoking run off the final corner to the checkered flag.
- Custer’s best finish in the 22 XFINITY Series races run this season is fourth, earned June 3 at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. It was his 12th top-10 and fifth top-five and it equaled his career-best finish.
- Custer’s best qualifying effort in the 22 XFINITY Series races run this season is third, earned twice – April 22 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway and June 10 at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. Custer has 15 top-10 starts and five top-five starts this season.
- Last weekend at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Custer ran in and around the top-five for the majority of the race and earned his 10th top-10 of the 2017 season. He was the highest finishing rookie in Stage 1 and the highest finishing XFINITY Series regular in a Ford.
- Custer has earned four top-five finishes, 10 top-10s and has led 29 laps so far in the 2017 XFINITY Series season.
- Custer is third in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 55 points behind leader William Byron and nine points behind second-place Daniel Hemric.
- Custer has earned six Rookie of the Race awards this season. Rookie of the Race awards are given to the highest-finishing XFINITY Series rookie at each race.
- Custer is sixth in the XFINITY Series driver standings, 274 points behind series leader Elliott Sadler.
- Custer will also compete Sunday in the Road America 100 ARCA Series race prior to the Johnsonville 180. It will mark Custer’s sixth ARCA race since 2015.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
What are the challenges of running a road course?
“In road-course racing, the competition is more on the driver’s shoulders compared to your traditional oval-styled track. You’re on the edge of your seat for the entire race and even the smallest mistake could take you out of the race. I enjoy road-course racing and challenging my skills as a driver. This is our last road-course race of the season, so I’m hoping to drive my Haas Automation Ford Mustang to a solid finish.”
With the playoffs approaching, has your strategy changed at all?
“Yeah. I think we’ll focus more on earning stage wins to put us in a good spot for when the playoffs start. A win would really set us up well so, hopefully, we can put together a strong car and I can run us up front here in the next couple of races.”
How has your first season at Stewart-Haas Racing been so far?
“It’s been a dream come true. At the beginning of the year, we started with an empty shop and a lot of work to do. We got off to a rocky start, being collected in a few accidents, but we’ve made a good comeback. Our goal at the beginning of the season was to earn a handful of top-fives and top-10s and battle our way to the playoffs. For a first-year team that started with nothing, we feel that we have definitely met our expectations.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
After a solid run at Watkins Glen and unfortunate luck at Mid-Ohio, how are you and the team positioned for Road America?
“Last week was just full of bad luck, but we were able to run back out there in the second stage and took some more notes. I think we’ll have a good run this weekend with all of the notes we took from Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio. We’re focused on earning a win or stage wins to set us up better for the playoffs.”