● Cole Custer and his fellow NASCAR Cup Series competitors will be making history this weekend when the series takes to the 1.25-mile oval at Gateway International Raceway in Madison, Illinois, near St. Louis, for the first time during Sunday’s Enjoy Illinois 300.
● The driver of the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) had a solid three-year run at Gateway in three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series appearances from 2014 through 2016, all in the No. 00 Haas Automation entry. He qualified on the pole and finished sixth in his first outing in June 2014. He followed that up with his second of two career Truck Series wins in June 2015, when he started second and led 19 laps along the way, beating runner-up Spencer Gallagher to the checkered flag by .871 of a second. In June 2016, his most recent outing, he started eighth and finished 15th.
● Riding along with Custer for the second time this season will be SHR 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.
● In leadup to this weekend’s race, Custer will be working with the St. Louis organization Dream Builders 4 Equity, which is tackling the vacant home epidemic plaguing the area by hiring youth ages 16 to 24 and pairing them with minority contractors to complete rehabs of currently vacant homes and buildings to be sold to first-time homeowners. The youth are employed at $15 an hour to participate in these rehabs and community development work, in addition to receiving workshops on entrepreneurship, real estate, and personal development skills. They also gain equity in the properties, which means every time a home is sold, portions of the sale go directly to the youth in scholarship form. They also are required to journal during their time participating in the organization’s Summer Academy and Apprentice Programs. The journals are then published in book form in which the youth have 100-percent ownership.
● SHR, Wow Wow Classic Waffles and Feeding America® are also asking fans to continue to do their part in helping to end hunger in America by visiting the Feeding America® 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.
● On April 20, Custer participated in the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new Second Harvest Food Bank location in Salisbury, North Carolina. Custer frequently volunteers his time at the Second Harvest location in Charlotte with his No. 41 team members occasionally offering their time to help the community. The Second Harvest organization recently honored Custer, SHR and the Gene Haas Foundation with its New Partner Award for their work over the past 18 months.
● Sunday afternoon’s 300-mile race will be Custer’s 90th Cup Series start.
● Custer arrives at Gateway 27th in the driver standings after his late-race bid for a top-five finish in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway was foiled when he was collected in a multicar accident during the first of two overtimes.