Notes of Interest
● Cole Custer and the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to the season’s longest NASCAR Cup Series race in two, very important roles: heightening awareness for hunger relief, and honoring a fallen soldier during Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.
● The dramatic, new paint scheme adorning Custer’s No. 41 Ford this weekend features Wow Wow Classic Waffles on the hood, and the words “Together We’re Feeding America” on both rear quarterpanels in support of Feeding America®, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. Fans are encouraged to text HUNGER to 50555 to make a $5 donation to Feeding America®, by visiting the Feeding America® donation page on Facebook, or the donation page via the Feeding America® website. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.
● Custer and his No. 41 team have already been hard at work helping to feed the area’s hungry. Last week, they gathered at Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina to assemble 1,200 backpacks to be distributed through the food bank’s School Backpack program. On Tuesday participated in a School-based Mobile Pantry in association with Second Harvest, distributing 60- to 70-pounds of food, including Wow Wow Classic Waffles, to some 180 local families in need at Devonshire Elementary School in Charlotte. The school has been hosting regular food distribution events for the past seven years with the help of Second Harvest.
● As part of NASCAR’s annual “600 Miles of Remembrance” this weekend, the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford will carry the name of U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class (SO2) Ryan C. Job, a Navy SEAL who passed away in 2009 as a result of injuries sustained in action two years prior while fighting the War on Terrorism. Job was critically injured in The Battle of Ramadi on August 2, 2006, when an enemy sniper hit the rifle he was holding, causing the weapon to shatter. Pieces of the weapon pierced his eyes, leaving him permanently blind. The native of Issaquah, Washington, returned home to receive treatment, after which we went on to climb Mount Rainier among other physical achievements. Job passed during a facial reconstruction procedure to repair injuries he suffered in battle.
● Sunday’s 600-mile race marks Custer’s 54th career Cup Series start and his third on the 1.5-mile Charlotte oval. Both of his previous starts resulted in top-20 finishes. He brought his No. 41 SHR Mustang home 12th in last year’s Coca-Cola 600, and four days later started ninth and finished 18th in the Alsco Uniforms 500.
● In his five career NASCAR Xfinity Series appearances at Charlotte, Custer has four top-10 finishes with a best of second in the May 2018 race, when he was runner-up to winner Brad Keselowski in a race that ended under caution.
● Custer finished 13th in his lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series outings at Charlotte, driving the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry in the May 2016 race.
● After last Sunday’s early exit from the inaugural EchoPark Texas Grand Prix at the Ciruit of the Americas in Austin, Custer arrives at Charlotte 27th in the Cup Series standings, 109 points behind the 16th and final playoff position.
● Sunday’s race marks the first appearance on the No. 41 SHR Mustang by Wow Wow Classic Waffles and Feeding America®. The partnership will continue at the Autotrader EchoPark Automotive 500 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on Oct. 17, and the following weekend at the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
How has your experience been working with Wow Wow Classic Waffles in support of Feeding America®?
“It has been an incredible experience, already, to work with Wow Wow Classic Waffles in their effort to fight hunger with Feeding America®. There are so many communities across the country that benefit from the work Feeding America® does, and having them on the car for the race at Charlotte is a great way to bring more attention to all their programs. It doesn’t take much to get involved, and this is a perfect opportunity for not only me and the guys on the 41 team do our part, but for the fans to be involved, too. Hopefully, we’re able to use these races to drive awareness and help out as many families as we can.”
What are your thoughts about how NASCAR embraces the military, especially our fallen heroes each Memorial Day weekend?
“It’s definitely really cool how we honor the fallen military members on our cars. NASCAR has always done a really good job saluting the military and everything they’ve done for our country to keep us safe. We wouldn’t be here without the military. Especially during these times, you really appreciate the people who risk their lives for us. I think it’s really cool that we do this and hopefully we can give Petty Officer Job a good run this weekend.”
Do you do anything different to prepare for and survive a race as long as the Coca-Cola 600?
“The 600 is definitely the longest race I’ve ever run. I think the biggest thing is staying hydrated and making sure you’re loose before the race and not sore. Just try and relax, especially in the first part of the race. At halfway you just need to try and settle in and get some laps done. The thing about it is you can’t really relax too much because you have to fight for the stage points, and fight for track position as much as you can. You have to stay hydrated. I guess there’s the need for a snack in there somewhere, too, but it’s definitely the longest, most grueling race that I’ve run.”
You’ve had solid runs most every time you raced at Charlotte in the Cup, Xfinity and Truck series. Why do you think you’ve excelled there?
“Charlotte has always been a good track for me. I’ve always run pretty good there. It’s definitely one of the most difficult mile-and-a-half tracks that we go to because it’s so edgy. It’s starting to get bumpy and you have to move around a little bit. It’s definitely a challenging mile-and-a-half to race on. It’s really line-sensitive. It’s a track where you have to have a really good, consistent line at so you can kind of navigate the bumps in the corners. It’s one of those places that’s starting to get a little more worn out and it’s starting to get more character. It’s worked out for me and been good to me in the past. It’s just a matter of trying to figure out how you can work traffic and work your way to the front.”