Cole Custer and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head back to Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Wednesday for the second consecutive event at the egg-shaped oval. Custer’s Mustang will once again highlight Gene Haas’ newest holding, HaasTooling.com. Haas Tooling was launched just weeks ago as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas’ cutting tools will be sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end-users.
After much anticipation, the 2020 NASCAR season resumed Sunday with a 400-mile race at Darlington. Custer received the 14th starting position after a drawing was held to set the field. The Cup Series rookie had a strong run in Stage 1 of the race but, after his car’s handling tightened up, he was relegated to a 22nd-place result. The 22-year-old feels fortunate to have another opportunity to master the South Carolina “Track Too Tough To Tame” Wednesday night.
“I think we definitely made gains during Sunday’s race,” Custer said. “The car drove fairly well. I think if I would’ve gotten a little more confident with running the wall, that we could’ve had a better day. I think we’re going in the right direction. It’s just a matter of working out the little things and being a rookie, and we’ll be on the right track.”
Riding along with the California native for Wednesday’s race will be Novant Health employee Dean Hines. Hines is part of NASCAR’s support of The Real Heroes initiative. He has been a patient transporter at Novant Health Matthews Medical Center since 2011. Hines, who calls himself a
huge NASCAR fan, is from Kinston, North Carolina. Hines is said to always put his patients first
. His contributions to the hospital, especially during these uncertain times, warrant the honor of him riding along with Custer at Darlington. Hines’ patients are always complimenting him for instinctively knowing how to comfort them with his kind words of healing and understanding
during their darkest times. Along with his passion for people, Hines also enjoys playing multiple musical instruments with his band on the weekends.
SHR has 39 starts at Darlington and two victories, both earned by No. 4 driver Kevin Harvick – one in 2014, and most recently on Sunday after Harvick led a race-high 159 laps. In total, the Kannapolis-based Ford team has 11 top-fives and 19 top-10s in the Cup Series at the South Carolina track.
Harvick hit a career win milestone with Sunday’s victory. “It’s pretty cool seeing Kevin get to 50 wins,” Custer said. “He’s been on a tear and it’s pretty impressive to watch. Being able to be this close to it and see how he goes about it, and how he prepares for a weekend and thinks about things. I think he’s different than anybody else on how he puts it all together, and I’m sure he’s going to win a lot more races.”
Haas Automation, founded in 1983 by SHR co-owner Haas, 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 was the third-highest-finishing rookie at Darlington Sunday and looks to improve his position Wednesday night.