● The last of a groundbreaking seven road-course races of 2021 is at hand as Cole Custer and the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and their fellow NASCAR Cup Series competitors head just down the road to the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval for Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400.
● And back with Custer and the No. 41 SHR Ford team for the last of this season’s six appearances as primary partner is Autodesk Fusion 360, which kicked off its fourth season with the 23-year-old driver and SHR in June on the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway road course and made its fifth appearance last weekend on the mammoth 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway oval. 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.
● Sunday’s 109-lap race will be Custer’s 71st Cup Series start and his second on the 2.28-mile, 17-turn Roval. He finished ninth in his Cup Series debut at the track a year ago this weekend for his seventh top-10 of the season en route to capturing Rookie of the Year honors. The finish came in just his second career road-course race in the Cup Series.
● Fast-forward to this weekend and the 23-year-old driver from Ladera Ranch, California, will be making his ninth points-paying Cup Series race on a road course. The ninth-place run on the Roval last year was best of them all. Since then, he rallied for a 13th-place finish on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway road course in February after dropping back as far as 24th while avoiding a multicar accident in the closing laps. In his most recent road-course outing on the grand prix course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in August, Custer finished 25th. In this year’s non-points Busch Clash on the Daytona road course, Custer drove deep into the top-10 on multiple occasions, but he fell three laps off the pace late in the race when he could not refire his Mustang after serving a self-imposed stop-and-go penalty for missing the backstraight chicane. He finished 20th.
● Custer’s 11 road-course outings in the Xfinity Series from 2017 through 2019 included a pair of outings on the Roval. He finished seventh in 2018 and eighth in 2019. His best Xfinity Series road-course result was fourth in 2018 at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. All but one of his 11 career road-course outings in the Xfinity Series were top-10s.
● Custer also has top-10s in all three of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series outings on road courses, all three occurring at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. His best was his most recent, a second-place run from the pole with a race-high 39 laps led in the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry in 2016. In addition to his three Truck Series outings, Custer raced on road courses twice in the ARCA Menards Series, at Road America and New Jersey Motorsports Park in Millville, and nine times in the K&N Pro Series at Sonoma, Watkins Glen, Virginia International Raceway in Alton, and Road Atlanta.
● This year’s seven road-course events is four more than the Cup Series has ever contested in a single season. From 1988 to 2017, there were only two road courses on the schedule – Sonoma and Watkins Glen. The Roval was added in 2018, giving the series three road-course venues. The initial 2021 schedule doubled that tally, with Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas, Road America, and the Indy road course all being added. And when COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the series’ stop this year at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, the Daytona road course was put in its place.
● After his 13th-place finish in Monday’s rain-delayed and rain-shortened race at Talladega, his seventh top-15 of the season, Custer arrives at the Roval 28th in the driver standings.
● The No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Mustang will be sporting a pink window net in Sunday’s race as part of the “Window of Hope” campaign initiated by Cup Series driver Kurt Busch in support of Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Custer will autograph his window net after the race and it will be part of an eBay auction hosted by The NASCAR Foundation, proceeds from which will benefit breast cancer research and treatment.
● 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.
● 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 do their part in helping to end hunger in America 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.