Notes of Interest
● Cole Custer and the No. 41 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) welcome back Dixie Vodka for the third of four races this season and introduce another exciting new product offering as the NASCAR Cup Series heads to Las Vegas Motor Speedway for Sunday’s South Point 400. Dixie Vodka, the largest premium craft vodka produced in the Southeast, has created a new, ready-to-drink canned beverage called “Greyhound Cocktail” alongside a series of three other canned cocktails from the brand. Greyhound Cocktail is the perfect blend of Southern Vodka and tart, with refreshing grapefruit for a taste of summer all year round. Click here to order yours today!
● Sunday’s 400-mile race at Las Vegas will be Custer’s 69th Cup Series start and his fifth on the 1.5-mile oval. The reigning Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 16th-place finish last September was the best of his first four Cup Series visits to Las Vegas. The desert oval is where Custer made his Cup Series debut in the March 2018 race, when he started 30th and finished 25th in the No. 54 Rick Ware Racing Ford.
● In five NASCAR Xfinity Series outings at Las Vegas from 2017 through 2019, all behind the wheel of the No. 00 SHR Ford, Custer started on the pole in each of the last three, and he posted top-10 finishes in each of the last four with a best of third in the September 2018 race. He also led a total of 54 laps in Xfinity Series competition at Las Vegas.
● In Custer’s lone career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series outing at Las Vegas, he started and finished third in the October 2016 race, driving the No. 00 entry for JR Motorsports.
● After last Saturday night’s 28th-place finish on the .533-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway oval, Custer arrives at Las Vegas 28th in the driver standings.
● Launched in 2014 and based in Charleston, South Carolina, Dixie Vodka was established with the simple mission of creating an all-American premium craft vodka that represents the best of Southern flavor, craftsmanship and hospitality. With six signature flavors – including its flagship Southern Original, Black Pepper, Citrus, Mint, Peach and Wildflower Honey – Dixie Vodka partners with local farmers across the South to infuse regionally cherished ingredients into its award-winning products, each of which is six-times distilled from American corn. In 2020, Dixie Vodka was ranked the ninth-fastest growing spirits brand in the United States by the Beverage Information Group and remains the largest premium craft vodka produced in the Southeast. In partnership with the Southern-raised sport that transcends regional boundaries, Dixie Vodka is proud to serve as the Official Vodka of NASCAR, the title sponsor of the Dixie Vodka 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and the Official Vodka of Stewart-Haas Racing. Dixie Vodka donates at least 1% of all profits through its 1% for the Planet program, a commitment to supporting non-profits that work to protect the future of the planet. A core brand within the Grain & Barrel Spirits portfolio – an innovation-driven beverage platform that develops and scales craft spirits brands led by founder Matti Anttila – Dixie Vodka can be found on Facebook and Instagram, and on shelves in more than 30 states.
● September is Hunger Action Month, and SHR, its partner Wow Wow Classic Waffles, and 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, are asking fans to think about their answer to a simple question: How will you choose to end hunger? Hunger Action Month is an annual campaign dedicated to driving awareness and inspiring action to help end hunger in America, both on a national scale and on the ground in local communities. It’s a time when the Feeding America network of food banks and the public come together to raise awareness and inspire action to help people facing impossible choices due to hunger. Fans are encouraged to visit the Hunger Action Month page via the Feeding America website to learn how they can take action through sharing, volunteering, pledging to advocate, fundraising and making a donation. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks. Custer and the No. 41 SHR Ford team have accumulated nearly 100 volunteer hours to date, working with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in packing bags and helping with drop-off events at Charlotte-area schools.
● Fans can do their part by texting 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 Dixie Vodka Greyhound Cocktail Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
Now that you’re down to the final seven races of the season, what kind of things are you looking to accomplish as you navigate the home stretch?
“The biggest thing is trying to end on a high note for all the guys who have worked so hard this year to get us going in the right direction. I think we’re doing that at Stewart-Haas Racing, it’s just a matter of doing it consistently and executing how we need to. You also want to help your teammates who are still in contention for the championship, but there’s only so much you can do, at times. You can do little things but, at the same time, it’s all about getting a championship for a Stewart-Haas car, so we’re going to do whatever we have to and help our teammates as they pursue that. The advantage of having a four-car team is being able to try different things and to share that information with whoever needs it.”
How would you assess where the No. 41 Ford team is as you head to Las Vegas this weekend?
“I think we’re making strides to get better. I don’t think we’re we want to be, for sure, but I think we’re making strides to get ourselves back in the ballpark where we know we should be running, at least, and giving ourselves a chance to go out there and get some good finishes. I think there are still gains to be made, but we’re working as hard as we can to make sure we’re in the mix on these final weekends.”
Is it difficult to maintain a level of intensity of when you’re not in the playoffs?
“I think you have to maintain your intensity no matter what. As a racecar driver, we go out there and try to win every weekend, and no competitor is happy not winning. So you’re out there giving it all you’ve got and you’re studying as hard as you can. Once you win, the next thing you want to do is to find a way to win again and get that feeling again, so you’re trying as hard as you can, taking every opportunity you can to try and get back to victory lane.”
You’re headed to Las Vegas, which is one of those tracks where the surface has aged and it seems to be quite racy. How does that affect the complexion of a race there these days?
“Yeah, it’s huge. Whenever you see these tracks that are wearing out more and more, it just makes them racier and racier, in my opinion. We’re able to slip and slide around and you’re able to do more. You’re able to move around the track and you’re able to kind of find some things that are better than the guy next to you, so it’s something that’s really fun and I think it’s something that every single driver gets excited about when the pavement gets wore out.”
How does Las Vegas compare to other tracks that are worn?
“It’s a track that’s kind of transitioning into that field, I guess you’d say. It’s getting there. It’s starting to get a little more worn out but, also, the big thing there are the bumps. The surface might not be extremely worn, but they have huge bumps, so it does bring a huge challenge into how the driver is going to make it through the bumps and how the team is going to set the car up through it.”