The No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) with young driver Cole Custer returns to Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Wednesday for the fourth NASCAR Cup Series race since the COVID-19 pandemic halted the season back on March 9. Wednesday night’s race will be 500 kilometers, or 310 miles – a little more than half of Sunday night’s marathon Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte.
Custer’s Mustang will look a little different for Wednesday’s race with the Autodesk Fusion 360 livery sharing the No. 41 machine with HaasTooling.com. Autodesk is a leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software. Autodesk has been integral to SHR and the software has played a vital role in creating personal protective equipment during the COVID-19 pandemic. To better support its customers facing the new reality of working remotely, Autodesk has introduced a special Extended Access Program for several of its cloud collaboration products, including BIM 360 Docs, BIM 360 Design, Fusion 360, Fusion Team, AutoCAD Web and Mobile, and Shotgun. Additionally, during the pandemic, Autodesk’s goal is to connect resources and people looking to help with pressing needs. For projects or resources that could help communities with COVID-19 efforts, visit here.
Sharing the No. 41 Mustang with Autodesk is 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 are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end-users.
Sunday’s grueling 600-mile race at Charlotte is annually the longest event on the Cup Series calendar. Custer qualified 28th in the afternoon before climbing into the HaasTooling.com Mustang for his first ever Coca-Cola 600 that night. The Ford driver battled a tight-handling Mustang for the most of the night, and went one lap down at one point during the race. He was able to maneuver his way back onto the lead lap and ultimately finished 12th after gaining multiple positions on the final green-white-checkered restart. “We were able to get a solid finish,” Custer said. “We have a lot of good ideas and I learned a lot to come back better on Wednesday.” The finish was the SHR driver’s second top-12 of the 2020 season.
Wednesday’s race marks the 22-year-old Custer’s 11th career Cup Series start. Coming off Sunday’s 600-mile race, he’s looking to hit the reset button and improve in what will be much more like a sprint race. The nature of the current schedule, with weekend and midweek races that are one-day shows with no practice, gives the field the opportunity to run consecutive races at the same venue, which is extremely helpful to a rookie driver like Custer.
SHR has 66 starts at Charlotte with five pole awards and one victory earned by No. 4 Mustang driver Kevin Harvick in 2014. In total, the Kannapolis-based Ford team has eight top-fives and 23 top-10s there, along with 764 laps led.
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 Charlotte Sunday night and looks to improve his position Wednesday evening.