Notes of Interest
● For the third time this season, Cole Custer and the No. 41 Ford Mustang team welcome back Stewart-Haas Racing (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, during Sunday night’s traditional Labor Day-weekend Cook Out Southern 500 NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. In addition, they’ll showcase an honorary crew member as part of NASCAR’s inaugural Workforce Appreciation Weekend celebration.
● Erinn Rowe, CEO of the Harvest Hope Food Bank, which serves the Darlington area, was nominated by Wow Wow and Feeding America® to serve as the honorary crew member with the No. 41 team this weekend. Rowe manages the organization’s operations through its three locations in the Midlands, Pee Dee and Upstate of South Carolina, and annually helps distribute more than 20 million meals to neighbors in need. Prior to joining the food bank, with was preceded by her 10-year stint with Bank of America, Rowe owned and operated a franchise of Young Chef’s Academy, a children’s cooking school which promoted healthy eating and skill-based learning for kids and adults of all ages. Her passion has always been feeding people, and she is glad to put her skills to use to safely and effectively source and distribute millions of meals to those in need. Rowe and her family live in the Midlands of South Carolina.
● Darlington Raceway, home to the traditional crown jewel Cook Out Southern 500, is introducing Workforce Appreciation Weekend in partnership with NASCAR Cup Series teams to showcase the industry’s appreciation of to the American workforce and its tireless efforts throughout the year.
● 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.
● Sunday night’s 367-lap race will be Custer’s 102nd career Cup Series start and seventh on the 1.366-mile egg-shaped oval. The 2020 Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 11th-place finish in last September’s Southern 500 was the best of his previous six Darlington outings.
● The native of Ladera Ranch, California, was credited with the victory in his most recent NASCAR Xfinity Series race at Darlington in 2019 after finishing second the previous year and ninth in 2017, all behind the wheel of the No. 00 SHR Ford. In the 2019 race, he crossed the finish line .602 of a second behind the apparent race-winner Denny Hamlin. But Hamlin’s racecar was disqualified after a ride-height violation was discovered in postrace inspection, giving Custer his eighth of 10 career Xfinity series victories. In the September 2018 Xfinity Series race at Darlington, Custer was runner-up to Brad Keselowski by .738 of a second.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
You’re welcoming back Wow Wow Classic Waffles and Feeding America® to the team this weekend and are showcasing an honorary crew chief with a passion for feeding people in need. Talk about that.
“We’ve been able to do some really cool things through our partnership with Wow Wow Classic Waffles and Feeding America, and we want to welcome Erinn Rowe to the team this weekend as we honor the American workforce on Labor Day weekend. It’s been eye-opening to see how many in our area need help and we’ve been able to provide meals for many families through the work we’ve done, but we need help. There are so many ways to help and it doesn’t take much to make a difference for the many families out there who are in need. It’s been really cool to get involved with the food banks and pack bags for local schools and the community. It gives you a great mindset because volunteering is something I wish I did more of before and now it’s something that I’m doing as often as I can. It’s definitely rewarding to see the people that you’re helping in your community.”
Does it open your eyes to people who are less fortunate than you?
“Yeah, for sure. That’s what it’s all about. We get so wrapped up in our own lives and our own problems. You’re able to help out people who really need it in our community, so it’s something that has been really cool to get involved with and I’m really looking forward to doing even more of it in the future.”
Darlington is one of the trickiest tracks in the Cup Series. How do you approach racing on “The Track Too Tough To Tame?”
“I would say Darlington is one track that I always look forward to. It’s one of those races that every driver looks forward to because of the challenge behind it and how much you can do as a driver. There are so many different lanes you can work and you’re running right up against the wall. It’s just a driver’s racetrack and I feel there’s not one guy who doesn’t feel excited when they hear Darlington is coming up.”
This weekend marks the beginning of the Cup Series playoffs for 16 of your fellow competitors. Do you feel the playoffs are a good way to determine a champion?
“It’s how we play the game. I don’t know how else to say it. I think it generates a lot of excitement. I think it’s a lot like other sports where we have playoffs and I think it’s always been good. In all sports, you have times where the best team doesn’t win the whole thing, doesn’t win the championship. That happens in our sport, too. It’s just part of it. Our sport is a little bit unique because we do race at different tracks and things can happen. Some teams are better at certain tracks than others, but at the same time it’s the game you play. We have a playoff system and I think it’s been great for the sport in having a lot of excitement and you just have to make it happen those last 10 races.”