● Cole Custer and his No. 41 Autodesk/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) head to one of his best racetracks, statistically, when they take to the Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway concrete mile oval for Sunday’s Dover 400 NASCAR Cup Series race.
● Back with Custer and the No. 41 SHR Ford team for the first of this season’s six appearances as primary partner is San Francisco-based Autodesk. Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK) is a leader in software applications for the engineering, manufacturing, construction, architecture, media and entertainment industries. The 2022 season marks Autodesk’s fifth year with SHR, and the partnership is more than skin deep. The team utilized Autodesk’s Fusion 360 design and manufacturing software extensively to create lightweight, but strong, components for its fleet of Gen 6 racecars. Autodesk’s generative design capabilities and its Fusion 360 software helps designers and engineers quickly find optimal solutions to design problems, like SHR’s brake pedal revision in its Gen 6 racecars, as chronicled in this video. The new pedal accounted for a 32 percent reduction in weight with a 50 percent increase in stiffness, with the optimized design being realized by Fusion 360. The entire project took just two months to complete – from initial design to simulation, additive manufacturing of the pedal, testing and finalized part. Just as importantly, it was all delivered within two weeks of the needed race date.
● Also riding along with Custer and his SHR Mustang this weekend 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 in July 2020. 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.
● Sunday’s 400-mile race will be Custer’s 86th Cup Series start and his fourth at Dover. He’s riding a streak of back-to-back top-10 finishes at The Monster Mile after scoring an 11th-place finish in his Cup Series debut there. His most recent Dover outing was a 10th-place run last May, and was preceded by finishes of 11th and 10th during a Saturday-Sunday Dover doubleheader weekend in August 2020. Custer’s average Cup Series finish of 10.3 at Dover ranks best among tracks where he’s raced more than once.
● Custer’s six outings at Dover in the NASCAR Xfinity Series collectively rank among his best in 104 career starts in that series from 2017 through 2019. His most recent, in October 2019, was his best. He qualified third in the No. 00 SHR Ford and led 31 laps en route to a victory by a one-second margin over runner-up Justin Allgaier. It was his fourth of four top-fives and fifth of five top-10s in his six Xfinity Series starts at Dover. In the May 2019 race, he qualified on the pole and led a race-high 155 of 200 laps before finishing fourth. That came on the heels of his runner-up finish in the October 2018 race, when he led 38 laps and crossed the finish line .525 of a second behind Christopher Bell. Custer finished fourth in his Dover Xfinity Series debut in May 2017 and eighth in the October 2017 race.
● In NASCAR Camping World Truck Series competition, the native of Ladera Ranch, California, has a best finish of fifth in the most recent of his three Dover outings, when he drove the No. 00 entry for JR Motorsports in the May 2016 race. He led a race-high 67 of 200 laps en route to a 13th-place finish in the May 2015 Truck Series race for JR Motorsports.
● The 24-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California saw a promising run at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway end with engine issues 98 laps into Sunday’s GEICO 500. He arrives at Dover 26th in the Cup Series standings.
● Two weekends ago, in the 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.