Notes of Interest
● Cole Custer has not one, but two shots at continuing the success he’s enjoyed during his career at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway when he and his No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to the Pocono Mountains for a Saturday-Sunday NASCAR Cup Series doubleheader.
● The 23-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California, will make career Cup Series starts 57 and 58 at the 2.5-mile triangular racetrack where he’s scored a victory and two pole positions in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, and another victory in the ARCA Menards Series. In last year’s inaugural Pocono doubleheader weekend, Custer brought home finishes of 16th on Saturday and 17th on Sunday, in what were his second and third career Pocono outings in the Cup Series.
● Custer made three Xfinity Series starts in the No. 00 SHR Ford from 2017 through 2019, never starting worse than third, never finishing worse than seventh, and leading a total of 95 laps in the three events. He qualified third and finished seventh in 2017, then qualified on the pole in both the 2018 and 2019 races, finishing fifth in 2018 and scoring the victory by .228 of a second over Tyler Reddick in 2019 after leading a race-high 58 laps.
● In his lone NASCAR Camping World Truck Series outing at Pocono, Custer drove the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry to a fifth-place finish in the 2016 race.
● Custer piloted the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry in both ARCA Menards Series events in 2015, leaving the June race after just 18 laps with a broken axle, but then returning with a vengeance in the August race, which he started fifth and won by a 4.991-second margin over Grant Enfinger after leading 18 laps.
● After soldiering to a 31st-place finish last Sunday in the inaugural Cup Series race at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway, where his crew spent more than 40 laps repairing a broken right-rear brake rotor, Custer is 27th in the Cup Series standings, 116 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 HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. HaasTooling.com products became available nationally last July, and the cutting tools available for purchase at HaasTooling.com 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.
● As announced during the annual Coca-Cola 600 weekend Memorial Day weekend, Custer and the team encourage fans to join Wow Wow Classic Waffles 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.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
Last year’s Pocono doubleheader weekend was a groundbreaker for the Cup Series, and there were two more added to the schedule at Michigan and Dover. How does a doubleheader change the complexion of the weekend?
“It’s definitely different because you’re trying to make two plans for the same race weekend with how the track’s going to change from one day to the next, what you’re going to change with the car, and then you’re trying to adapt as much as you can right after the first race. It’s a lot of just trying to make sure you’re sticking with your notes and making good decisions from one day to the next.”
Does it make the weekend any more or less stressful?
“I think it’s made it a little more relaxed going into this kind of weekend where, before, it was going to be a lot of unknowns where we’d never raced two days in a row like this without much practice and everything like that. But raced multiple times a week last year and it’s not a huge curveball for us, anymore. It just feels like another week. It’s definitely going to be a little bit tough, a little bit different, preparing the cars for two days in a row, and getting yourself ready for that. At the same time, we’ve gotten used to doing races without any practice and I think we all know how to get into a good rhythm for it.”
How does the top-20 inversion for Sunday’s race affect strategy during the Saturday race?
“That’s going to be a nice position to be in if you’re fighting over that. You’re not going to try and finish 20th, but I think if you’re in that position where you’re 21st, you’re going to fight pretty hard to get that spot, so we might see some drama.”
What were your first impressions of Pocono, being one of the most unique layouts on the schedule?
“It was tough. It was tricky. The straightaways are so long, it gives you a lot of time to think about how you’re going to mess up the next corner (laughs). It’s a tough place to get around because all the corners are different. I think everybody loves it because it’s a challenge. With three different, really difficult corners, it’s one of those styles of tracks you haven’t seen a bunch before. It’s a triangle and you don’t ever race at other tracks shaped like that. There’s nothing like it.”