Notes of Interest
● After back-to-back-to-back races on the three shortest tracks on the NASCAR Cup Series tour, Cole Custer and the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to the longest track, the 2.66-mile Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway oval, for Sunday’s GEICO 500.
● Riding along with Custer for the first time this season will be SHR 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. SHR and Wow Wow Classic Waffles are collaborating on an online auction that kicked off Tuesday, from which all proceeds will benefit Feeding America®. Fans can follow this link to bid on an exclusive VIP experience for two at the 2022 NASCAR race of the winning bidder’s choice. The winner will receive two VIP credentials that provide access to the NASCAR Cup Series garage and pit road through the race. Also included in the package are personalized garage, hauler and pit road tours, a 10-minute meet-and-greet with Custer, lunch with the No. 41 SHR Mustang team, and seats atop the team’s pit box during the race. One hundred percent of the final bid price of this auction will go directly to Feeding America®, through SHR’s partnership with Marson Foods and Wow Wow Waffles. The winner and guest must be 18 or older. The auction closes April 26.
● SHR, Wow Wow Classic Waffles and Feeding America® are also asking fans to continue to do their part in helping to end hunger in America by visiting the Feeding America® 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.
● On Wednesday, Custer participated in the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Second Harvest Food Bank location in Salisbury, North Carolina. Custer frequently volunteers his time at the Second Harvest location in Charlotte with his No. 41 team members occasionally offering their time to help the community.
● Sunday’s 500-mile race will be Custer’s 85th Cup Series start and his fifth at Talladega. The 2020 Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 10th-place finish there a year ago this weekend was the best of his first four Cup Series visits and was the first of his two top-10 finishes earned last season. He scored his second top-10 three weeks later on the concrete mile oval at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Custer finished 13th in last October’s rain-shortened race at Talladega.
● The 24-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California, had promising runs in both of his Talladega outings during his rookie season. In the spring race, he was set to restart fifth for the green-white-checkered finish, but his Mustang began to stumble from a lack of fuel, sending him to pit road for a splash-and-go. He finished 22nd. In the fall race, he was able to drive to the front on multiple occasions, but while running fifth just past the race’s halfway point, he was collected in a multicar incident that ended his day.
● Custer has three Talladega appearances in NASCAR Xfinity Series competition in the No. 00 SHR Ford with a best finish of ninth in the 2018 race, and best starts of 12th in the 2018 and 2019 races.
● Custer qualified the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry on the pole for the 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Talladega, but saw that bid come to an early end after an accident just past the halfway point.
● At last weekend’s Food City Dirt Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Custer earned his first career NASCAR Cup Series pole. The starting grid for Sunday night’s race on the half-mile, dirt-covered Bristol oval was determined via four nine-car, 15-lap heat races, in which drivers earned points based on their finishing position and the number of cars they passed. Custer finished second in the first heat after starting in the ninth and final position to earn 16 points, more than any other driver in the 36-car field. He went on to finish 13th in Sunday night’s race and arrives at Talladega 24th in the Cup Series standings.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Feeding America®/Wow Wow Classic Waffles Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
Is there anything you’ve changed about your approach to superspeedway-style racing now that you’ve run the NextGen car at both Daytona and Atlanta?
“I think the biggest thing about the superspeedway racing this year is this new car is really all about getting the pit stops good and making sure you stay with the lead draft. If you’re the last car in line, it’s really easy to lose the draft. So I think that’s been the biggest thing. At the end of the day, it’s been really similar. You’re still able to push really hard, you’re still able to draft and run three-wide, and four-wide at times, so it puts on good racing. You just want to make sure you can stay with the lead draft.”
Off the track, it seems you and your team, along with SHR partner Wow Wow Classic Waffles, have been working hard to support the initiatives of the Feeding America® network. Talk about that.
“We’ve been able to do some really cool things through our partnership with Wow Wow Classic Waffles and Feeding America. It’s been eye-opening to see how many in our area need help and we’ve been able to provide meals for many families through the work we’ve done, but we need help. There are so many ways to help and it doesn’t take much to make a difference for the many families out there who are in need. It’s been really cool to get involved with the food banks and pack bags for local schools and the community. It gives you a great mindset because volunteering is something I wish I did more of before and now it’s something that I’m doing every month, pretty much. It’s definitely rewarding to see the people that you’re helping in your community.”
Does it open your eyes to people who are less fortunate than you?
“Yeah, for sure. That’s what it’s all about. We get so wrapped up in our own lives and our own problems. You’re able to help out people who really need it in our community, so it’s something that has been really cool to get involved with and I’m really looking forward to doing even more of it in the future.”