Speedway Digest Staff

Speedway Digest Staff

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The racing world is abuzz about the launch of Tony Stewart and Ray Evernham’s new SRX Racing Series, which will debut at Stafford Speedway on Saturday, June 12th. The series will headline the Saturday event and will be supported by the TickMike.com SK Modified® All-Star Showdown. Stafford Speedway officials have announced the format of the All-Star Showdown alongside $46,000 in prize money.

“June 12th will be a big night for Stafford Speedway,” explained Stafford Speedway CEO Mark Arute. “The debut of a new national series at the track to be televised live on CBS and the first ever SK Modified® All-Star race. The goal of this event is to put on a show for the fans and to reward our weekly competitors. We’re paying at least $2,000 to each top-15 finisher and $4,000 to the winner. Thank you to Mike and everyone at TickMike.com for supporting the event.”

The All-Star event will be structured in 3 stages for a total of 50 laps. Stage 1 and 2 will be 20 laps each and will pay a $1,000 bonus to each stage winner.  The final “Showdown” stage of 10 laps with $4,000 awarded to the race winner.  Every driver finishing in the top-15 is guaranteed at least $2,000 in prize money.

Additional bonus money is up for grabs for the winner of stages 1 & 2. The winner of stage 1 will have the option to go back to 15th to start stage 2, if they go on to win the Showdown the driver would be awarded an additional $1,500. The winner of stage 2 will have the option to go back to 10th for the Showdown, if they go on to win the Showdown the driver would be awarded an additional $2,500.

“If a driver sweeps the night they’d win $10,000,” continued Mark Arute. “To do that they’d have to put on one heck of a drive. We will have a full house with many fans attending their first Stafford Speedway event. We hope the drivers take a look at the strong $2,000 in prize money throughout the field and put on a show.”

Entry to the All-Star Showdown will be exclusive. The top-15 in SK Modified® points will be locked into the field along with any past SK Modified® champions. All past SK Modified® champions are eligible for the event. Some recently active past champions include Ryan Preece, Woody Pitkat, Mike Christopher, Sr., Frank Ruocco, and Bo Gunning.

Remaining tickets for the SRX Racing Series and TickMike.com SK Modified® All-Star Showdown will go on sale May 10th. Ticket access will be available to ticket alert list subscribers from 8:00am to 10:00am on May 10th. Any additional tickets will be available on StaffordSpeedway.com/tickets beginning at 10:00am. All those interested in tickets are encouraged to sign-up for the ticket alert list, click here to subscribe.

For more information, visit www.staffordspeedway.com, checkout Stafford Speedway on Facebook or Twitter, or contact the track office at 860-684-2783.

Stafford Speedway PR

GMS Racing officials announced today that Ryan Reed will pilot the No. 24 Tandem Diabetes Care Chevrolet Silverado at Darlington Raceway this Friday.

"I'm so excited and I can't thank Chevy and everyone at GMS, Mike (Beam) and Maury (Gallagher), enough for the opportunity," said Reed. "It is awesome to see anew partner come into the sport with Tandem Diabetes Care. I use their t:slim X2 insulin pump to help manage my type 1 diabetes and their advanced Control-IQ technology has improved my health overall. It's incredible to be able to represent them on the track and have my daily life changed by their product."

A new partner in NASCAR, Tandem Diabetes Care is dedicated to making the lives of people with diabetes better through relentless innovation and revolutionary customer experience.

"We are thrilled that Ryan (Reed) is experience the benefits of the t:slim X2 pump with Control-IQ technology, and couldn't be more excited to support him in following his passion," said John Sheridan, President and CEO, Tandem Diabetes Care. "We're constantly hearing from customers about how our technology is changing lives and we believe that Ryan getting behind the wheel this weekend is yet another example of these positive outcomes."

"We're very grateful to have talented drivers like Ryan (Reed) to be able to step up and compete for us," said Mike Beam, President of GMS Racing. "We're thankful for him and his partner Tandem Diabetes Care for coming on board with us for Darlington."

The No. 24 Tandem Diabetes Care Chevrolet Silverado will make it's on-track debut in the LIftKits4Less.com 200 at Darlington Raceway on Friday, May 7. The race will be broadcast live on FS1 and MRN.

GMS Racing PR

Sheldon Creed, No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet Silverado

Darlington Raceway Camping World Trucks Stats

- Starts: 1, Best start: 2, Laps led: 82, Stage Wins: 1

2021 Camping World Trucks Stats

- Starts: 7, Best start: 2, Best finish; 2, Top 5s: 2, Top 10s: 3, Laps led: 104


- Throwback tribute: Sheldon Creed's No. 2 Silverado will pay tribute to Jason Leffler's 2002 ASE scheme for throwback weekend at Darlington Raceway.

- Chassis history: Sheldon Creed and the No. 2 team will compete with chassis No. 302 on Friday in Darlington. This is the same chassis that Creed led 82 laps with in September at Darlington. Creed already has one top five with this chassis at Atlanta this year and finished runner-up in the October Kansas race and third at Pocono in 2020 with this chassis.

- Playoff outlook: Creed is currently fourth in the championship standings, 83 points back from the leader and 82 points above the playoff cutoff line.

- Crew chief corner: Jeff Stankiewicz has called two Camping World Trucks races at Darlington Raceway.


"I'm hoping to have another strong run this weekend with our Jason Leffler throwback scheme. We were solid at Darlington last year, so I'm hoping we can have that same speed again on Friday."

Zane Smith, No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado

Darlington Raceway Camping World Trucks Stats

- Starts: 1, Best start: 4

2021 Camping World Truck Stats

- Starts: 7, Best start: 6, Best finish: 6, Top 10s: 4


- Throwback tribute: Zane Smith's No. 21 Chevrolet Silverado will feature a special throwback scheme to Glen Wood's 1957 scheme.

- Chassis history: Smith and the No. 21 team will utilize chassis no. 331 on Friday in Darlington. Smith has finished inside the top 10 in each of the four races he has competed with this chassis, including his first career victory at Michigan in August 2020.

- Playoff outlook: Smith is currently seventh in the championship standings, 119 points behind the leader and 46 points above the playoff cutoff line.

- Crew chief corner: Kevin "Bono" Manion has three top-five finishes in his three NASCAR Xfinity Series races atop the pit box at Darlington Raceway and has called 10 NASCAR Cup Series races at the historic track.


"I'm looking forward to Darlington and throwback weekend. It's a fun racetrack and luckily we will be starting our day out right by starting up front. Track position is so critical at Darlington. I'm hoping to build on what we did at Kansas and keep moving forward."

Chase Purdy, No. 23 Bama Buggies Chevrolet Silverado

Darlington Raceway Camping World Trucks Stats

- No prior Camping World Trucks starts at Darlington Raceway.

2021 Camping World Trucks Stats

- Starts: 7, Best start: 4, Best finish: 18, Laps led: 4


- Throwback tribute: Chase Purdy's Bama Buggies Silverado will feature a special throwback paint scheme this weekend, paying tribute to Davey Allison's 1981 scheme.

- Chassis history: Purdy and the No. 23 team will compete with chassis No. 328 on Friday in Darlington. This chassis led 50 laps and had two top-five finishes in three outings with the No. 23 team in 2020.

- Championship Outlook: Purdy is currently 22nd in the championship points standings, 77 points back from the playoff cutoff line.

- Crew chief corner: Jeff Hensley has three top fives in the four Camping World Trucks races he has called at Darlington Raceway. The veteran crew chief also has 30 NASCAR Xfinity Series races at Darlington Raceway.


"I'm excited to get to Darlington. I've never been there before, but from what I've been studying and from watching the truck race there last year, I think it will be a fun race."

Tyler Ankrum, No. 26 LiUNA! Chevrolet Silverado

Darlington Raceway Camping World Trucks Stats

- Starts: 1, Best start: 9, Best finish: 11

2021 Camping World Truck Stats

- Starts: 7, Best start: 11, Best finish: 3, Top 5s: 1, Laps led: 6


- Throwback tribute: Tyler Ankrum will run a throwback scheme to "the best there is, plain and simple" Ricky Bobby from the 2006 film Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby with LiUNA! as primary sponsor.

- Chassis history: Ankrum and the No. 26 team will compete with chassis no. 311 this weekend in Darlington. Ankrum had two top-10 finishes in three starts with this chassis in 2020.

- Playoff outlook: Ankrum enters the Darlington weekend 18th in the championship standings, 63 points back from the playoff cutoff line.

- Crew chief corner: Charles Denike has one NASCAR Xfinity Series race as crew chief at Darlington Raceway and was atop the pit box for the No. 24 team for GMS in last season's Camping World Trucks return to the track.


“I'm excited about going back to Darlington. We had a pretty good showing there last year, ran inside the top 10 for most of the race, but ran into a bit of bad luck and driver error there at the end. We're going to correct that this year and we're going to come back stronger and we will go see if we can put Ricky Bobby's Talladega Nights paint scheme in victory lane."

GMS Racing PR

South Boston Speedway has long been one of the safest tracks in NASCAR for competitors. It is one of the factors that makes “America’s Hometown Track” a great place for competitors to race.

Continuing its efforts as an industry leader in safety, South Boston Speedway hosted a three-hour training class prior to its May 1 racing event involving South Boston Speedway Track Services and representatives from the South Boston, Virginia Fire Department and the Cluster Springs, Virginia Volunteer Fire Department.

Medical personnel from Duke Life Flight in Durham, North Carolina and Centra One from Lynchburg, Virginia also participated, flying their medical helicopters into South Boston Speedway to participate in the training.

“We could not be happier with our team for taking part in this training,” said South Boston Speedway Assistant General Manager Chase Brashears. “We’re firm believers that you can never have too much training, and that includes our track services team that provides expert care to participants during our events. Our team was able to review the basics of driver care during an incident and then put all of those skills together at the end of the training when they conducted a full drill of a driver extrication.”

Having representatives from the South Boston and Cluster Springs fire departments and the medical flight teams from Duke Life Flight and Centra One participating was an important part of the training event.

“We greatly appreciate our local agencies for getting involved,” Brashears remarked.

“We also thank the great people at Duke Life Flight and Centra One for flying in their medical helicopters to discuss scenarios with our team.”

Dave Howell, a flight paramedic with Centra One, said he and his team were glad to have the opportunity to participate in the training.

“This is a little bit unique, and specialized,” Howell said. “We just feel very fortunate to be able to come out and help the community and show these people at the speedway what we are able to do as far as speeding up patient care for them and take care of them in their time of need.”

Joshua Rife, a flight paramedic with Duke Life Flight, gave South Boston Speedway kudos for hosting the training.

“I think it’s a great thing the racetrack is doing with this kind of training,” Rife noted. “It’s always good to train. You work the way you train. We’re very happy at Duke Life Flight to have the opportunity to come up here and train with all of these individuals. We’re happy to serve the South Boston community.”

South Boston Speedway Limited Sportsman Division competitor Kenny Mills Jr. of South Boston, Virginia volunteered to participate in the training by allowing members of the track services team extricate him from a racecar.

"It was different climbing into a car knowing I was going to be extricated from it,” Mills remarked.

“I can honestly say it was a cool experience in regard to being able to watch the safety works do what they do first-hand. The training speaks volumes that South Boston Speedway is investing so much into safety for us drivers and I totally commend them for it."

Veteran Late Model Stock Car Division competitor Terry Dease of Oxford, North Carolina, another of the training participants, was glad to see South Boston Speedway providing the safety training.

“Safety has to be a top priority,” Dease pointed out.

“I thought the training class was wonderful. Any training that can help get somebody out of a car quicker and having people knowing exactly what to do is important. With all of the innovation in racing with the seats, head support systems and things that are around us now, people need to know how to properly undo the hook-ups and belts.”

Dease said knowing that South Boston Speedway’s track services personnel are trained in how to handle emergency situations “makes me feel 100 percent better. I’m glad and 100 percent satisfied that South Boston Speedway is providing this training.”

The training course concluded with participants putting all the applications together in a full real-world scenario that included fully cutting open a racecar, rendering medical aid and extricating a driver.

During the final exercise South Boston Speedway Track Services personnel along with the other participants gained experience using new safety equipment the track obtained this season.

“Our track services team received a great asset earlier this year when ESI Race Track Safety Services and Holmatro joined with us to supply rescue tools on our fire truck,” Brashears noted.

“Those tools were instrumental during the real-world scenario drill, and the value of having those tools here on race day cannot be measured.”

“We greatly appreciate the support of our race teams for this training, and our track services and operations staff for the hard work they put in,” Brashears said. “South Boston Speedway is an industry leader in short track safety, and this training was an important piece to that puzzle.”


Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway and racetrack promotions company Track Enterprises are excited to announce the return of the cars and stars of tomorrow with the ARCA Menards Series East. The Crosley Record Pressing 200 presented by Action 24/7 & T- Mobile will feature some of the brightest young stars of the racing circuit.

This Saturday event will also feature the North/South Super Late Model Challenge 100 tri- sanctioned race by the ARCA/CRA Super Series, Southern Super Series and CARS Super Late Model Tour. The JEGS/CRA All-Stars Tour and Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway Pro Late Models will also be in action with a 100-lap feature.

400 laps of racing will be heading to the music city with what sure will be edge of your seat action. The ARCA Menards Series East has had an exciting season so far with a three-wide finish at New Smyrna Speedway. Sammy Smith and Taylor Gray left the event with some bad blood after a bump from Smith pushed Gray onto the high side allowing Mexico racer Max Gutiérrez to get down low and take the win. Smith got redemption at the next series race at Five Flags Speedway where he led most of the laps for the race and grabbed the win.

Friday practice will be free and main gates will open at 4:00PM central time with open practice running until 7:30PM. Saturday pits will open at 9:00AM with practice beginning at 11:45AM. JEGS/CRA All Stars will begin qualifying at 3:00PM, followed by Super Late Models at 3:30PM, ARCA East Qualifying will begin at 4:15PM. Racing will begin at 5:00PM with the JEGS/CRA All Star Tour 100. Following will be the North/South Late Model Challenge starting at 6:30PM. ARCA Pre-Race will begin at 8:00PM with the main event the T-Mobile Music City 200 presented by Action 24/7 at 8:30PM.

Get your tickets today at nashvillefairgroundsspeedway.racing or by calling the Speedway Box Office at 615-254-1986. The T-Mobile Music City 200 presented by Action 24/7 adult tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the gate. Senior citizens and military personnel can get advance tickets for $22 and $27 on the day of the race. Also, child tickets are just $10. Camping is available for the race and more information can be found by calling the Fairgrounds Office at (615)862-8980.

Nashville Fairgounds PR

A completely new era in stock car racing is ushered in today as Ford unveils its all-new 2022 NASCAR Next Gen Mustang to the public in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Next Gen Mustang will compete in the NASCAR Cup Series starting next season.

The new car, which has been under development for two years, is completely different from its predecessor – redesigned from the ground up. Unlike past versions, with the exterior being the only noticeable change, this model is built for the future, featuring flexibility for technological advances such as a hybrid or electric powertrain.

The new race car more closely mirrors its Mustang production counterpart, which maintains its title as world’s best-selling sports car.

“A lot of work has been done behind the scenes to make sure this Next Gen Mustang remains relevant to our customers,” said Mark Rushbrook, global director, Ford Performance Motorsports. “As the automotive industry continues to change, we’ll have the ability to keep up in the racing world without having to go through a complete overhaul or redesign of the car. This is something we’ve been waiting for and we’re glad the time has finally arrived.”

Changes include rack-and-pinion steering, independent rear suspension and 18-inch tires with aluminum forged wheels. The all-new body features a wider stance, while a symmetric exterior shell, tail and smaller greenhouse area closely resemble the production Mustang.

“This car is true to the Mustang brand and we have to thank the Ford design team for working hand-in-hand with our aerodynamic engineers to ensure it is competitive on the track, while maintaining unique Mustang styling,” said Rushbrook. “That requires a lot of give-and-take on both sides, but with the new smaller greenhouse area and shorter rear deck, we were able to do a lot of things to make sure there’s no mistaking this is a Mustang.”

Development of the new car took place both in Ford’s Dearborn design center and at the Ford Performance Technical Center in Concord, North Carolina, where Ford’s NASCAR scale model and aero teams are located. Extensive development continues on full-motion simulators at the technical center, where both racing and production car work takes place.

“Mustang is an iconic brand for Ford and when I saw the Next Gen Mustang in person for the first time I was pumped,” said Team Penske driver Joey Logano, the 2018 NASCAR Cup Series champion. “The aggressive look of the nose and the changes to the greenhouse and tail make the car more authentic to the street Mustang than ever before. I know the fans are going to love the Next Gen Mustang and I can’t wait to get it on the track.”

Mustang came to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2019 and has won at least 10 races each of its first two years, including a season-high 18 victories in 2020 that helped Ford win the manufacturers’ championship.

The NASCAR Next Gen Mustang makes its competition debut on Feb. 20, 2022, at Daytona International Speedway for the 64th annual Daytona 500.

To learn more about Mustang, please visit Ford.com/Mustang.

Ford Performance PR

Chevrolet and other major automotive brands competing in the NASCAR Cup Series revealed their Next Gen models today. Chevrolet’s new look on the racetrack will more closely connect to its cars in the showroom when Chevy campaigns its Next Gen Camaro ZL1 race car starting next season in the NASCAR Cup Series. The new look and features are a result of a collaborative effort by Chevrolet, the series and other original equipment manufacturers for race cars competing at the Cup level to look and perform more like their production counterparts.

The Next Gen Camaro ZL1 race car’s new lower greenhouse, shortened deck lid and widened track width contribute to a coupe-like appearance. A fully symmetrical body design makes the race car look even more like the production Camaro.

“Chevrolet engineers and designers worked alongside our race teams to develop this race car while staying true to the styling essence of the Camaro ZL1,” said Jim Campbell, GM U.S. vice president of Performance and Motorsports. “This cooperation will benefit Chevrolet both on the track and the street.”

Both the Next Gen Camaro ZL1 race car and production Camaro ZL1 offer hood air extractors that enhance track performance.

“The Next Gen Camaro has a much stronger link to the production Camaro ZL1 in terms of styling integration, improved proportions and relevant technologies,” said Eric Warren, Chevrolet director of NASCAR Programs. “From an engineering standpoint, this is a seismic shift. It’s a completely new car that brings with it a lot of opportunity from a technical standpoint.”

Other changes to the 2022 Next Gen race car include:

• Upgraded specs to match modern passenger vehicle technology, including independent rear suspension – like production Camaros – and rack and pinion steering.
• An increase in wheel size from 15 to 18 inches. The larger diameter wheels allow for larger brakes for improved track performance. Wheels will be made from forged aluminum, like the wheels on the production Camaro ZL1.
• A new transaxle that combines the transmission and rear gears into one package.
• The bottom of the car will be sealed with an underwing and rear diffuser for enhanced aerodynamics.
• A redesigned chassis features new front and rear bumpers with an energy-management system.
• Both the front and rear clips bolt on to the center section for easier serviceability and damage repair.

Chevrolet initially introduced the Camaro ZL1 race car to NASCAR Cup competition in 2018. It was replaced by the Camaro ZL1 1LE race car in 2020, which Chase Elliot drove to a Driver’s Championship in the car’s first season.

Chevrolet has campaigned 14 different nameplates in the Cup Series, dating back to 1955, and with 798 victories is the winningest brand in NASCAR Cup Series history. Chevy’s first win was by Fonty Flock at Columbia Speedway in South Carolina in 1955, the same year Chevrolet introduced its famed small-block V-8. Since then, Chevrolet has won 39 Manufacturer Championships, including 13 in a row from 2003-2015, and 32 Driver Championships to lead all manufacturers.

The Next Gen Camaro ZL1 race car will make its points-paying debut at next season’s Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida on Feb. 20, 2022.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the Next Gen Camaro ZL1 race car Saturday, May 8, at 8 p.m. ET by joining “Chevy MyWay: Meet the All-New NASCAR Next Gen Camaro,” a free broadcast open to all. The link to this event page will be live at 3:30 p.m. today. Team Chevy high-resolution racing photos are available for editorial use.

GM Racing PR

More than two years in the making, Toyota and TRD (Toyota Racing Development) today unveiled the manufacturer’s Next Gen car that will take to the track in 2022 – the Toyota TRD Camry - in the NASCAR Cup Series (NCS).

Toyota has been working alongside NASCAR, as well as the other OEMs, on the development of the Next Gen vehicles for competition. The components of the Next Gen race cars are an unprecedented move for the sport, but one that looks to continue to evolve safety enhancements of the race cars and promote on-track competition.

Toyota, TRD (Toyota Racing Development, U.S.A.) and Calty Design have worked together to ensure as many body styling characteristics as possible are incorporated into the Toyota TRD Camry Next Gen so it resembles its production counterpart as closely as possible. From the grill to the spoiler and everywhere in between, the Next Gen TRD Camry race car has the most body styling attributes to its production counterpart than ever before in a NCS Camry. This is a practice that Toyota and TRD have employed since the development of the 2013 Camry in NCS competition.

“There has been a substantial amount of work put into the Toyota TRD Camry Next Gen car by all of our partners, but specifically everyone at TRD and Calty Design,” said Paul Doleshal, group manager of motorsports and assets, TMNA (Toyota Motor North America). “We’re thrilled to have the chance to showcase the TRD Camry to represent Toyota in the NASCAR Cup Series through this Next Gen project. This is our topline, track-inspired performance Camry and it seemed only fitting for it to take it’s spot on the race track.”

Toyota continues to be the only manufacturer in NASCAR to showcase three nameplates across NASCAR’s three national series – the TRD Camry in the NCS, the Supra in the NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) and the Tundra in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS). Since joining the NCS and NXS in 2007, Camrys have earned 156 NCS wins and three NCS championships along with 171 NXS wins and two NXS championships. And since Tundra’s entry into the NCWTS in 2004, Toyota has claimed 205 victories and eight Truck Series championships.

“For Toyota and TRD, we’re committed to the principle of continuous improvement and we believe that’s reflected in this Next Gen TRD Camry,” said David Wilson, president of TRD. “While we know the margins available with this new race car are smaller when it comes to adjustability, we know our race team partners and our team at TRD look forward to the challenge of learning about this car and discovering the performance opportunities that will help put the TRD Camry into victory lane.”

The Toyota TRD Camry Next Gen will make its debut as the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season kicks off at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, February 20, 2022.


Joey Iest, No. 54 ASN/Basila Ranch Ford Fusion

  • For the first time in eight weeks, Joey Iest will be back in ARCA action on Saturday evening at Nashville (Tenn.) Fairgrounds Speedway. He last raced at Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway on March 12 for Naake-Klauer Motorsports, who he competes for full-time in the ARCA Menards Series West.
  • In two ARCA East races for David Gilliland Racing this season, Iest has earned two top-five finishes and currently sits fifth in the series standings, fifteen points out of first place.
  • During the long break in between his scheduled ARCA races, Iest participated in a late model race at Madera (Calif.) Speedway on April 17 and finished second. He also recently tested a Trans Am at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway to prepare for his first career start at the northern California road course with the ARCA West series on June 5.
  • Since Iest's last race, crew chief Derek Smith has stayed busy guiding Thad Moffitt and the No. 46 Fusion to a pair of sixth-place finishes in the ARCA Menards Series.
  • Click here for Iest's career statistics.

Iest on the long break and Nashville:

"It's been a long break between ARCA races, so I can't wait to get back in the car this weekend. I was able to use the break to do a little bit of racing back home in California at my home track (Madera) and I also tested at Sonoma for the first time which was really fun. I've turned some laps at Nashville on iRacing and my guess is that it will be a tough track where you have to save your stuff for the end of a run. We have managed to finish top-five in both races this year where taking care of your tires mattered a lot, so I'm looking forward to seeing where we stack up on Saturday."


Notes of Interest


● It’s not necessarily an iconic paint scheme from the rich history of NASCAR Cup Series racing that Cole Custer’s No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) will sport in Sunday’s Goodyear 400. Coincidentally, this year’s featured event of the annual NASCAR Throwback Weekend at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway will be just the eighth race run on Mother’s Day in Cup Series history. Fittingly, Custer’s colorful paint scheme will be, in essence, a 130-mph Mother’s Day card from SHR co-owner Gene Haas and his siblings, addressed to their mother Margaret.


● A Haas family photo from back in the day will adorn the rear quarterpanels of Custer’s No. 41 SHR Mustang, and the door panels will feature a recent photo of Margaret, a fixture at West Coast NASCAR races over the years who turns 96 next month. Red and pink flowers accent the paint scheme throughout, while “Happy Mothers Day” appears on the hood and rear of the racecar. And the image of a special greeting to Margaret serves as the background on all sides of the racecar. It reads:



Happy Mother’s Day Mom. You’re a fabulous, strong, and beautiful woman. Your never-ending love taught us to work hard, be kind, fair, and generous to others. Your love for family and God is always on display. Our family get-together traditions are always memorable. You love watching NASCAR, and have always been proud of your four children and grandchildren. You’ve dedicated 43 years of your life being a religious school teacher and Principal. You were a great role model to the many students you taught. We love you, respect you, and thank you. Love, from your kids, Bob, Gene, Joanne, Darlene.


● For the 23-year-old Custer, Sunday’s 400-mile race marks the 51st Cup Series start of his career and his fourth on the 1.33-mile, egg-shaped oval. The reigning Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 12th-place finish in the Southern 500 last September was the best of his three Darlington outings in 2020.


● 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 nine 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.


● After last Sunday’s 24th-place finish at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Custer arrives at Darlington 23rd in the Cup Series standings, 290 points behind leader Denny Hamlin, and 59 points behind the 16th and final playoff position.


● Returning to Custer’s No. 41 Ford Mustang for SHR 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 last July, and the cutting tools available for purchase at HaasTooling.com have proven to be even more important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment. 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.


● SHR revealed last month that Code 3 Associates returns to the No. 41 Ford Mustang for the July 11 race at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Code 3 Associates has been a hero to animals for more than 30 years. If disaster strikes, Code 3 will deploy its Animal Rescue Team to help in emergencies like hurricanes, fires and floods. From now until June 20, fans have the opportunity to have their name featured on the No. 41 SHR Ford and help Code 3 continue its rescue efforts by simply visiting Code3.cc/Cole41 and making a $41 donation.


Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Mother's Day Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing


You’ll be sporting a very special paint scheme in Sunday’s Throwback Weekend race at Darlington. What are your thoughts about piloting a rolling Mother’s Day greeting to your team owner’s mom?

“Having something a little bit different for Darlington in terms of a paint scheme is pretty cool. Obviously, throwback weekend has always been about honoring the drivers and teams that have grown the sport, but now we get to honor the mothers that have gotten us here as well. Without our mothers and their sacrifices, we wouldn’t be where we are and it’s nice to be able to show our appreciation.”



We know Margaret tunes in when she can and she’ll be watching this weekend, but what was it like to have her at the track in the past?

“Margaret was my favorite person to see at the track. She always has a smile on her face, wants to know what you’re doing, what you’ve been up to. She brings a smile to your face anytime you see her, she just shares so much joy. When she was able to show up, you’d feel how genuine the support was and how proud she was, so we’re going to do all we can to keep the car up front and give her a good race.”



What is your typical experience racing on the unique, egg-shaped Darlington oval?

“Darlington is just a gritty racetrack, obviously old-school with running up by the wall. It’s a worn-out racetrack, so there’s a lot of slipping and sliding around. It has a ton of history, too, being the home of the Southern 500 and it’s always a lot of fun to see all of the creative paint schemes and other things that make Throwback Weekend such a special event. It’s a place you really look forward to going to and trying to win that race.”


Darlington was where you first raced last year after the 10-week hiatus brought on by the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. What do you remember most about that return to racing?

“It was definitely different. I think the strangest thing was how quiet it was before and after the race without the fans. But other than that, it was kind of back to normal – what became our new normal – driving to the track and climbing in the car. But it was definitely strange not having the fans there. The fans make the sport. I think we all realized when we went to Darlington for that first time without any fans, it was just weird. It was not the same without the fans. Having fans, with the energy that they bring, that changes the whole weekend. We’re going to have fans there this weekend, and we’re even going to have guests allowed in the garage for the first time since before the pandemic. I’m looking forward to that. Hopefully we get everyone back soon.”


Was the level of difficulty even higher that first weekend back because of the nature of the Darlington track, and a race that’s notoriously difficult even with hours of track time beforehand?

“It was definitely a little bit difficult because it was Darlington and we had no practice or qualifying but, at the same time, you come in there having done as much preparation as you could. Get yourself in the mindset of which different lines you’ll be running, working the dirty air and things like that. It would’ve been nice to test some of those things during practice, but I feel like we all did a pretty good job of showing up to the racetrack and being ready. It was a little tough at the start of the race after the long break and no practice or qualifying, but I felt like we fired off pretty good and the guys had built a great car. It was well-prepared for the race. It’s just not having the opportunity to work out those little things that you get to work through in practice, you just have to jump into it. I think I adjusted to it pretty quickly. The biggest thing that I had to get acclimated to was just how I was going to run a car that I’d never run before, and the different lines and how I was going to work the racetrack and do everything involved with that. It was just a matter of getting used to the car.”



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