Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet Silverado for Haas Racing Development (HRD), has scored three top-10 finishes in his last three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts. While he’s earned those finishes at three fairly different racetracks, he will encounter a new challenge altogether Sunday afternoon when he makes his first road-course start in NASCAR’s third-tier series.
When NASCAR announced at the end of the 2012 season that the minimum driver age requirement for the Camping World Truck Series would be lowered from 18 to 16 on all racetracks that are road courses or 1.25 miles or shorter, plans were put in place to allow Custer to run a nine-race schedule that would allow him to get acclimated with racing a different vehicle and a higher level of competition.
Because the Truck Series schedule is contested on a variety of racetracks and does not typically race at facilities where the 16-year-old Custer would be eligible to participate more consistently, he will make back-to-back series starts for the first time this weekend, as well.
One of the advantages Custer has enjoyed thus far in 2014 has been the ability to test at racetracks prior to competing in each of the five races he has run thus far. However, that changes this weekend. When Custer turns his first lap around Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario, it will mark the first time the Ladera Ranch, California native will have done so in any kind of race vehicle.
Fortunately, Custer is no stranger to making both left- and right-hand turns. He has five NASCAR K&N Series road-course starts to his credit, all of which have come in the last year and a half. At Road Atlanta in October of last year, Custer started ninth and went on to finish fifth to notch his first top-five finish on a road course. Earlier this month, Custer was running second at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International when he made a move for the lead coming to the checkered flag, but skidded into the sand barrels at the entrance to pit road.
A win this weekend would not only be another first for Custer, it would place his name in the record books as the youngest race winner in Camping World Truck Series history.