Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, the site of Wednesday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series UNOH 200, is a high-banked, .533-mile oval that is well known as “The World’s Fastest Half-Mile.” The Tennessee short track is one of the toughest the three national touring series visit. Being successful at Bristol isn’t quite as simple as having the fastest racecar. It takes patience, finesse, tire and brake management and, oh yeah, a little bit of “right-place, right-time” luck.
The tight-quarters racing produced at Bristol often leads to accidents, many of which often collect serious collateral damage as there is a lack of room to maneuver around someone else’s misfortune. A driver can quickly find a good run ended prematurely as a result of the lack of real estate offered by the concrete bullring.
Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet Silverado for Haas Racing Development (HRD), will make his first Truck Series start at Bristol Wednesday but he is no stranger to the facility. Bristol was the site of his first NASCAR K&N Series start on March 16, 2013.
Custer started 17th and was racing his way toward the top-10 when he made contact with another driver, resulting in a cut tire. While he was able to keep his spinning Chevrolet from hitting anything and accruing more damage, he wound up losing several laps when he was forced to make a green-flag pit stop. He would finish the day in the 24th position, but the finish was far from indicative of the one he appeared to be on his way to earning. Custer made his second series start at Bristol in March, and experienced similar misfortune. Despite struggling with an ill-handling racecar, he was able to race his way into the top-10 when he was caught up in an incident not of his own making. Still, Custer was able to rally to finish 14th.
The 16-year-old Custer would like nothing more than to add another NASCAR record to his resume this weekend at Bristol by becoming the youngest winner in Camping World Truck Series history. He’s already claimed the record as the youngest pole winner in national touring series history, as well as the youngest winner in K&N Pro Series history. But he knows if he’s to contend for the win, he’ll have to not only beat 35 other drivers to the finish line, he’ll also have to survive one of the most difficult races and racetracks on the circuit.