● The final regular-season race of the 2021 NASCAR Cup Series season is at hand and that means it’s “win-and-you’re-in” time for driver Cole Custer and the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) during Saturday night’s Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. With 15 of the 16 Cup Series playoff berths already clinched, Custer and his teammates can lay claim to the lone remaining berth with a victory in Saturday night’s 400-mile race on the high-banked, 2.5-mile Daytona oval. Custer qualified for last year’s playoffs with his maiden Cup Series victory at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta en route to scoring series Rookie of the Year honors.
● Back with Custer and the No. 41 SHR Ford team for the season’s third of six appearances as primary partner is Autodesk Fusion 360, which kicked off its fourth season with Custer and SHR in June on the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway road course and made its second appearance two weekends ago in the inaugural Cup Series race on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The Sonoma weekend was a hometown race for San Francisco-based Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), a leader in software applications for the engineering, manufacturing, construction, architecture, media and entertainment industries.
● Saturday’s 400-mile race will be Custer’s 65th Cup Series start and his fourth on the Daytona oval. At this year’s season-opening Daytona 500, Custer led a lap and ran a majority of the final stage in the top-10 before finishing 11th. A year ago this weekend, he started 16th and was working his way toward the top-10 in the final laps before being collected in a multicar accident three laps short of the finish. In his Daytona 500 debut in February 2020, Custer started 12th but was forced to retire on lap 174 due to a rear-end mechanical issue.
● In NASCAR Xfinity Series competition at Daytona, Custer made six starts from 2017 through 2019, all in SHR Fords. He had a best start of third in the August 2018 race, and best finishes of 14th in the 2018 and 2019 season openers, both seasons culminating with runner-up finishes in the series championship.
● Eleven days after his 18th birthday, Custer started the 2016 ARCA Menards Series season opener and his first career race on the Daytona oval from the pole. He led a race-high 42 laps before bringing the No. 54 for car owner Ken Schrader home 10th.
● After last weekend’s 23rd-place finish on the 2-mile oval at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Custer arrives at Daytona 28th in the driver standings.
● Joining Autodesk on the No. 41 Ford Mustang 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.
● With Hunger Action Month set to kick off Sept. 1, SHR, its partner Wow Wow Classic Waffles, and Feeding America®, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, are asking fans to begin thinking about their answer to a simple question: How will you choose to end hunger? Hunger Action Month is an annual campaign dedicated to driving awareness and inspiring action to help end hunger in America, both on a national scale and on the ground in local communities. It’s a time when the Feeding America network of food banks and the public come together to raise awareness and inspire action to help people facing impossible choices due to hunger. Fans are encouraged to visit the Hunger Action Month page via the Feeding America website to learn how they can take action through sharing, volunteering, pledging to advocate, fundraising and making a donation. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks. Custer and the No. 41 SHR Ford team have accumulated nearly 100 volunteer hours to date, working with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in packing bags and helping with drop-off events at Charlotte-area schools.
● Fans can do their part by texting HUNGER to 50555 to make a $5 donation to Feeding America, by visiting the Feeding America donation page on Facebook, or the donation page via the Feeding America website. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.