Wednesday, May 25

HaasTooling.com Racing: Cole Custer Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum Advance

Event Overview

 

● Event: Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum

● Time/Date: 3 p.m. EST on Sunday, Feb. 6

● Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

● Layout: Quarter-mile oval

● Format: 150-lap Feature with a 23-car field set by Heats and Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ)

● TV/Radio: FOX / MRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio

● Note: Heats and LCQ are broadcast live from 3-5 p.m. EST. Feature airs live at 6 p.m. EST.

 

Notes of Interest

 

● It’ll be a Southern California homecoming like no other for Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), when he and his fellow NASCAR Cup Series competitors kick off the 2022 season with this weekend’s exhibition Busch Light Clash at the Coliseum. The recently turned 24-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California, will help usher in a new era of American stock-car racing’s premier division by debuting an all-new racecar on a new track. The long-anticipated NextGen car will see its first racing action Saturday and Sunday on a purpose-built, quarter-mile, asphalt oval inside the confines of the iconic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. It will be the first time the series has kicked off a season at a track other than Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway since 1981, when the schedule opened on a road course at Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway, approximately 50 miles east of Los Angeles. Riverside was demolished in 1989, the Moreno Valley Mall now standing in its place.

 

● The NextGen is the seventh version of the stock car NASCAR introduced in 1949. Its most notable features include a sequential shifter, 670-horsepower engines, a single center-lock wheel nut akin to Indy cars and sports cars, and car numbers just behind the front wheels, as well as carbon fiber-reinforced plastic body panels, a carbon-fiber floor that covers the entire underneath portion of the car, and a rear-end diffuser – all of which are in place to reduce dirty air. Its rack-and-pinion steering replaces the archaic recirculating ball used in its predecessors, and an independent rear suspension is a drastic upgrade from the full-floating axle first championed by 1950s-era Detroit products. Most importantly, the NextGen car is much more in line with what manufacturers sell and consumers want to see.

 

● Custer earned a spot in last year’s season-opening Busch Clash non-points event held for the first time on the road course at Daytona by virtue of his first career Cup Series victory at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta the previous July. If he is to race in the main event for the second time in his career this weekend, the 2020 Cup Series Rookie of the Year will need to race his way in. Here's how it will work:

● On Saturday, NASCAR Cup Series competitors will take to the track for practice prior to single-car qualifying runs to determine the starting order for four heat races. The field will be open to 40 entrants. On Sunday, on-track action will begin with four, 25-lap heat races consisting of 10 cars each. Below is a breakdown on how the heat races will be filled out:

● The top-four fastest qualifiers from Saturday’s single-car qualifying session will be on the pole for each heat race, while cars that qualified fifth through eighth will make up the other half of the front row in each heat.

● The remainder of each field will be filled out using this methodology: Heat one will be made up of cars with qualifying positions of one, five, nine, 13, 17, 21, 25, 29, 33, 37.

● The top-four finishers (16 total cars) from each heat race automatically advance through to the Busch Light Clash, with the winner of heat one winning the pole and the heat two winner earning the outside pole.

● The winners of heats three and four will fill out the second row, with the remaining order of those 16 cars being determined in the same manner.

● The remaining six finishing positions from each heat (24 total cars) that did not advance will continue through to one of two 50-lap Last Chance Qualifying (LCQ) races. Below is a breakdown on how the LCQ will be filled out:

● The starting order for these two events will be determined based on finishing positions in the heat races.

● Those who did not advance from heats one and three will make up the first LCQ race. The second race will be made of up those from heats two and four.

● The fifth-place finishers from heats one and two will be on the pole in their respective LCQ races. The fifth-place finishers from heats three and four will be on the outside pole.

● This pattern will continue to fill out 12 cars in each event.

● The top-three finishers (six total cars) from both LCQ races will advance to the Busch Light Clash, filling out positions 17-22 of the 23 available positions.

● The final spot in the Busch Light Clash will be reserved for the driver who finished the highest in the 2021 points standings who does not transfer on finishing position in the heat races or LCQ races.

● All other drivers will be eliminated from competition for the remainder of the event weekend. 

 

● The quarter-mile oval at the Coliseum is the shortest track the Cup Series will race on this year. Custer has shown flashes of brilliance on short tracks during his steady rise to the fulltime Cup Series ranks in 2020. Since turning heads as a 13-year-old with a solid fourth-place finish in a June 2011 Langer’s Juice S-2 Sportsman Series race at nearby Irwindale (Calif.) Speedway, Custer has scored four wins, 17 top-fives, 30 top-10s and has led 1,138 laps on short tracks.

 

● Returning to Custer’s No. 41 Ford Mustang for his third fulltime Cup Series season 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 in July 2020. 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.

 

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

 

Your thoughts about embarking on your third fulltime NASCAR Cup Series season with a brand-new racecar and racing in your old stomping grounds?

“First of all, I just love racing at home. And secondly, racing at a new location – at such an iconic location like the L.A. Coliseum – will hopefully bring a lot of new fans into our sport. There are so many unknowns going into this race, I don’t think anybody knows what to make of it. Looking at the racetrack, I think it’s pretty much a promise that somebody’s going to be in a fight on the frontstretch. It’s a really tight racetrack, it’s going to be a lot of beating and banging, it’s going to be fighting over space and trying to get to the front any way possible so you can transfer through to the next race. A lot of it can come down to qualifying or the pill draw, whether you can get the track position you need. But it’s going to be one of the most interesting races of the year because I don’t think anybody knows what to expect.”

 

What is it going to be like for a driver to be in that Coliseum environment, and how do your prepare for that?

“Nobody really knows what to expect with this being the first race with the new car and also a track we’ve never run before. Like I said, with how small the track is, there’s going to be a lot of beating and banging and it’s probably going to be the craziest race of the year. You get on a simulator to figure out little things – just getting prepared, getting the visuals right for the racetrack, getting a little bit of a feel for it. But really, it’s going to be a lot of adapting. You’re going to go out there for the first lap of practice and you’re going to try and soak it up and adapt as fast as you can.”

 

Do you have any expectations after what you’ve experienced so far while testing and working with the NextGen car?

“We’ve had a few tests – Dover, Daytona, Charlotte. With this new car, you’re definitely trying to get as much seat time as you can. It should level out the playing field a lot just because it’s new for everybody. It’s something that everybody has to learn, everybody has to figure out how far they can push the car. This is the biggest change NASCAR has had in the last probably 50 years from season to season, so it’s going to be an interesting year and a lot of equalizing.”

 

A lot of your fellow competitors head to the Coliseum after having competed in some exciting short-track and dirt-racing events during the offseason, like last month’s Chili Bowl. Is that something you would like to do someday?

“I would love to. I ran a little bit of Midget stuff when I was younger. I wouldn’t say as a professional but I was younger and wanted to learn the basics of major racing. I think every single time I watch a race like the Chili Bowl, I want to be a part of it. It’s one of those races that’s so awesome to see how excited every single person is to be there. And how many cars they get, how competitive it is, it’s just one of the greatest grassroots short-track races of the year. I think open-wheel dirt racing is some of the most fun you can have as a driver, also, so I’d love to try and get a little more experience this year and try to get to run at the Chili Bowl. But it takes that right opportunity – you don’t want to be the guy who goes out there cold turkey and flips the car down the frontstretch.”

 

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