Notes of Interest
● Cole Custer and the No. 41 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) welcome back Autodesk as co-primary partner for the fourth time this season and the first of back-to-back races when they take to the high-banked concrete half-mile Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway oval for Saturday night’s NASCAR Cup Series Bass Pro Shops Night Race. San Francisco-based Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), a leader in software applications for the engineering, manufacturing, construction, architecture, media and entertainment industries, kicked off its fifth season with SHR May 1 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway, then returned for the June 12 race at its hometown Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and last month’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Autodesk returns to Custer’s No. 41 Ford for the Sept. 25 race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth before appearing one final time Oct. 9 at the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval.
● The Autodesk partnership with SHR is more than skin deep. The team utilized Autodesk’s Fusion 360 design and manufacturing software extensively to create lightweight, but strong, components for its fleet of Gen 6 racecars. Autodesk’s generative design capabilities and its Fusion 360 software helps designers and engineers quickly find optimal solutions to design problems, like SHR’s brake pedal revision in its Gen 6 racecars, as chronicled in this video. The new pedal accounted for a 32 percent reduction in weight with a 50 percent increase in stiffness, with the optimized design being realized by Fusion 360. The entire project took just two months to complete – from initial design to simulation, additive manufacturing of the pedal, testing and finalized part. Just as importantly, it was all delivered within two weeks of the needed race date.
● Also riding along with Custer and his SHR Mustang this weekend 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.
● Saturday night’s 500-lap race will be Custer’s 104th career Cup Series start and fourth on the Bristol concrete surface. He also has a pair of Bristol appearances in the Food City Dirt Race, the first in April 2021 that resulted in a 24th-place finish, and the second this past April that resulted in a 13th-place finish after earning his first career Cup Series pole position. Of his three previous Bass Pro Shops Night Race outings, Custer’s best was his 23rd-place finish from 12th on the starting grid in September 2020. In non-points Cup Series competition at Bristol, Custer started eighth and finished 16th in the July 2020 NASCAR All-Star Race. He qualified for that event with his maiden Cup Series victory the previous weekend at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
● In six career NASCAR Xfinity Series appearances at Bristol from 2017 through 2019, all in SHR Fords, Custer has a best finish of third from his pole starting position in the spring 2019 race. That came on the heels of his fourth-place finish in the fall 2018 race, and his pole position in the spring 2018 race that resulted in an eighth-place finish. He led 31 laps in those six Xfinity Series starts at Bristol.
● Custer made annual spring-race stops at Bristol for the 2014 through 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. He had a best finish of sixth in his most recent visit in 2016, driving the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry. The previous year, in the JR Motorsports entry, he led 111 of the first 159 laps of the race from the fifth starting position before getting caught up in an accident that relegated him to a 16th-place finish.
● The first taste of the Bristol oval for Custer came in the 2013 and 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East events. He finished 24th for owner Ken Schrader in 2013 and 14th for owner Bill McAnally the following year.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Autodesk/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
What are your thoughts as you and the team head to Bristol for the annual night race?
“I think it’s great. Bristol’s an exciting racetrack where a lot of stuff can happen fast. When you put 40 guys out there who are trying to fight hard for every single spot, it can create some great racing and it always does. It’s definitely one of the greatest shows we put on for the fans. It’ll be our first time on the concrete surface at Bristol with the NextGen car, so that could be the great equalizer this weekend. And it’s a cutoff race for the playoff drivers for the second year in a row, which should make for even more excitement. We hope we can continue the trend of non-playoff drivers winning these playoff races.”
You excelled at Bristol when you were in the Xfinity Series. Why do you think that was the case, or what about the track suits your driving style?
“Bristol was a good track for me in the Xfinity Series, for sure. It’s a track that has always come a little natural to me, I like the feel of it. It’s a lot about keeping momentum and if you're on the bottom you've got to be able to hook the line. Hopefully we’ll be able to make those things happen, managing our race from beginning to end and getting through traffic without getting caught up in someone else’s mess. It can get pretty chaotic.”