Wednesday, Dec 06 Racing: Cole Custer Talladega Advance

Notes of Interest


● Taking care of some unfinished business will be the battle cry when Cole Custer and his No. 41 Ford Mustang team for Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) head to the Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway oval for Sunday’s GEICO 500. The reigning NASCAR Cup Series Rookie of the Year had potential top-five runs spoiled in both Talladega races in 2020.


● In last year’s June race at Talladega, the 23-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California, was set to restart fifth for the green-white-checkered finish, but his Mustang began to stumble from a lack of fuel, sending him to pit road for a splash-and-go. He finished 22nd. In last year’s October race there, he also was able to drive to the front on multiple occasions. But while running fifth just past the race’s halfway point, he was collected in a multicar incident that ended his day.


● Custer has three Talladega appearances in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition in the No. 00 SHR Ford with a best finish of ninth in the 2018 race, and best starts of 12th in the 2018 and 2019 races.


● Custer qualified the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry on the pole for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega, but saw that bid come to an early end after an accident just past the halfway point.


● After last Sunday’s 23rd-place finish on the three-quarter-mile oval at Richmond (Va.) Speedway, Custer arrives at Talladega 25th in the Cup Series standings, 283 points behind leader Denny Hamlin, and 53 points behind the 16th and final playoff position.


● Returning to Custer’s No. 41 Ford Mustang for SHR is team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, Haas Tooling, which 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 and shipped directly to end users. products became available nationally last July, and the cutting tools available for purchase at have proven to be even more important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment. 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.


● SHR revealed that Code 3 Associates returns to the No. 41 Ford Mustang for the July 11 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Code 3 Associates has been a hero to animals for more than 30 years. If disaster strikes, Code 3 will deploy its Animal Rescue Team to help in emergencies like hurricanes, fires and floods. Fans have the opportunity to have their name featured on the No. 41 SHR Ford and help Code 3 continue its rescue efforts by simply visiting and making a $41 donation.


Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing


After three consecutive races on short tracks, what are your thoughts about getting out on the big track at Talladega?

“It’ll definitely be a good change of pace after Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond. We didn’t exactly have the kind of results we were hoping for at those places, and the superspeedways have usually been one of our strong suits. It’s one of those races where you can’t control a whole lot and you have to hope for the best, especially when everyone is racing for stage points and then at the end of the race. You have to race your race the best you can to put yourself in a good position. It can be a pretty stressful race, but I guess all of the races can be stressful if you let them.”


You’ve got two Cup Series races at Talladega under your belt. Is it any more difficult to race there with no practice or qualifying compared to the short or intermediate tracks? And what did you learn about racing there last year?

“My first time there as a rookie last June, having no practice was definitely a concern because you want as much practice as you can get to just feel things out and see what’s working and what’s not working. We went there after they took the drag ducts out of the car, so we would’ve wanted to get a feel for how differently the cars would suck up and how it affected the handling and the aero. But we figured it out pretty quickly in the race, as it turned out. We had fast Ford Mustangs both times there last year. I think we had top-five cars at both races, and we were able to race our way to the front both times. But we ran out of fuel at the end of the June race, and ended up getting caught up in a big wreck a little past halfway in the October race. I’m optimistic we’ll bring a fast Mustang this weekend.”


Now that you’re a quarter of the way through your sophomore season in the Cup Series, how has it been trying to find the consistency you are always looking for?

“Last year, for me, it was all about just getting used to the cars and figuring out what I needed to be doing. And then from just a team standpoint, I think it was just working really hard on trying to figure out what’s the best package for me at the various tracks and figuring out what I like in the car compared to what my teammates like, and then using our teammates’ notes to see what we can try. The process continues this year, but I have notes to work off of from the places we raced at last year. It’s always an ongoing process to see how you can make yourself better, whether you’re a rookie or a veteran.”


Is there a particular less you’ve learned thus far that was the result of a mistake?

“I don’t know if I can just say one, honestly (laughs). I don’t know if I just had that one mistake that I could really pinpoint, but I think the one thing I’ve learned the most from has been the 550 package. It’s so much different than what the Xfinity cars were and how you drove them was almost backward from what you think, so it’s been a lot of learning. That’s been the biggest thing, and just continuing to work hard to get better and better with it.”




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