Dover (Del.) International Speedway probably isn’t a racetrack where you’d expect to hear of rookies excelling. After all, it isn’t too high up on the list of favorite places to race for a lot of experienced NASCAR drivers.
The “Monster Mile,” as it is affectionately known, is a high-banked concrete oval with a penchant for chewing up cars and veteran drivers alike. Yet, for some reason, the sun seems to always shine on at least one of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series rookie drivers when it makes its annual visit to the northern Delaware facility. For Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet Silverado for Haas Racing Development (HRD), he hopes that trend continues in 2014.
Custer’s Haas Automation teammate Kurt Busch won the inaugural Camping World Truck Series race as a rookie at Dover in 2000. Scott Speed accomplished the same feat in 2008. In fact, in the 14 Truck Series races contested at Dover, top-performing rookie drivers have claimed two wins, five top-five finishes and 11 top-10s. Only three times have rookies been denied a top-10 result in those 14 races.
Friday’s 200-miler will be the second of nine scheduled Truck Series events of 2014 for Custer, and he is counting on making the most of each of them. In his series debut at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway in March, Custer was sitting in position to earn a top-10 finish in the closing laps. The Haas Automation driver ran inside the top-10 for much of the race, but a number of beating-and-banging incidents and late-race caution flags hampered his ability to advance in the closing laps. Since taking the checkered flag that Sunday afternoon, Custer has been counting the days to May 30 and his opportunity to climb back aboard the No. 00 Chevrolet and get back to racing in the Truck Series.
While Custer will make his first Camping World Truck Series start at Dover this weekend, he is no stranger to the concrete oval. He finished 14th there last year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and hopes that the experience he gained in that race might be what he needs to add his name to the list of strong rookie performances at Dover.