● Cole Custer and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) kick off back-to-back-to-back weekends of classic short-track racing when the NASCAR Cup Series heads to the .75-mile Richmond (Va.) Raceway oval for Sunday’s Richmond 400. The series ventures south but remains in the Capital of the Commonwealth of Virginia the following weekend for a Saturday-night race under the lights on the half-mile Martinsville Speedway paperclip-shaped oval. And the short-track stretch winds up on the high-banked, half-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway oval for the second annual Food City Dirt Race.
● In February, Custer and the No. 41 team finished seventh – best among the four SHR teams – in the season-opening, non-points-paying Busch Light Clash on the quarter-mile paved oval inside the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
● Sunday’s 400-lap race marks Custer’s 82nd career NASCAR Cup Series start and his fifth at Richmond. His 14th-place finish in the September 2020 race there is the best of his previous four outings, helping him earn 2020 Cup Series Rookie of the Year honors. He started 21st and finished 22nd in his most recent outing there last fall.
● In NASCAR Xfinity Series competition, Custer’s seven career starts at Richmond is more than he’s had at any other track. Best among those starts was the April 2019 race, when he qualified fourth in the No. 00 SHR Ford, led a race-high 122 of 250 laps and took the checkered flag 2.639 seconds ahead of runner-up and fellow Ford driver Austin Cindric. He followed that up with a third-place finish in that year’s September race for his fourth Xfinity Series top-six in seven Richmond starts. Custer also started on the pole and led 43 laps en route to a sixth-place finish in the April 2018 race in his SHR Ford, and scored a sixth-place finish in his Richmond debut in the Xfinity Series, driving the No. 5 JR Motorsports entry in the April 2016 race.
● Custer’s first two Richmond outings came in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2013 and 2014. The first year, he started and finished third after leading 24 of 100 laps, then came back the following year to qualify second and lead a race-high 52 of 100 laps en route to his fourth of four career victories in K&N Pro Series competition.
● Last Sunday, in the season’s first of six road-course races at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, Custer was vying for a top-five finish during a late restart, only to get spun in the multicar chaos and having to settle for a 23rd-place finish. He arrives at Richmond 28th in the driver standings.
● Riding along with Custer and his SHR Mustang 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.