● Cole Custer is perhaps the most thankful among the NASCAR Cup Series competitors who are headed to Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas, to see the weekend weather forecast features warmth and plenty of sunshine with virtually no chance of rain. When the series debuted on the 3.426-mile, 20-turn road course that is home to the Formula One United States Grand Prix a year ago, heavy rains forced officials to stop the scheduled 68-lap race 14 laps short. And Custer’s day was cut even shorter when poor visibility led to an accident just 24 laps into the race. Custer is hoping dry conditions this weekend will yield much better results in the season’s first of six road-course races.
● Custer and the No. 41 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will be joined for the first time this season by the One Cure project, which is led by the Flint Animal Cancer Center at Colorado State University with a mission to find a cancer cure through research benefiting man’s best friend. It is founded on the principle that cancer affects all creatures and that treatment breakthroughs come through collaboration between scientists and doctors working with people and animals. This approach is known as comparative oncology and it is the guiding concept of One Cure and the Flint Animal Cancer Center. The center works to improve prevention, diagnosis and treatment of cancer in pets, and teams with the human medical field to translate research findings that will help people with cancer.The center, located in Colorado State’s James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital, sees more than 1,500 new animal cancer patients every year, with approximately 130 of them enrolled in carefully monitored clinical trials specific to their cancer type. The canine and feline patients are helping pioneer cancer research, moving cutting-edge treatments out of the laboratory and into clinical practice, ultimately providing hope for the next generation of animal and human cancer patients.
● In lead-up to this weekend’s partnership on the racetrack, One Cure partnered with Custer on a “$41 for 41” fundraising campaign that generated a total of $4,362 from 75 unique donors.
● This weekend’s 68-lap, 231-mile race marks Custer’s 81st career NASCAR Cup Series start and his 10th on a road course. His best road-course outing in the Cup Series was an impressive ninth-place run on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval in October 2020. In February 2021, he rallied for a 13th-place finish on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course after dropping back as far as 24th while avoiding a multicar accident in the closing laps.
● In his 11 road-course outings in the NASCAR Xfinity Series from 2017 through 2019, Custer finished outside the top-10 just once with a best result of fourth in the 2018 race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
● Custer has top-10s in all three of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series outings on road courses, all three occurring at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. His best was his most recent, a second-place run from the pole with a race-high 39 laps led in the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry in 2016. He also made three starts apiece on the road courses at Sonoma and Watkins Glen in NASCAR K&N Pro Series competition, with best finishes of third in the 2016 East Series race at Watkins Glen after having qualified on the pole there the previous year, and fourth in the 2019 West Series race at Sonoma.
● After an accident less than halfway through last weekend’s race on the newly reinvented Atlanta Motor Speedway oval, Custer arrives at COTA 29th in the driver standings, 94 points out of first.
● Custer will be pulling double duty this weekend as he’ll also be behind the wheel of the No. 07 Ford Mustang for SS Green Light Racing for Saturday’s Pit Boss 250 Xfinity Series race.