Thursday, Dec 08 Racing: Cole Custer Talladega Advance

Notes of Interest


● Cole Custer and the No. 41 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) are set to tackle the season’s sixth and final superspeedway-style race during Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series YellaWood 500 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Custer’s best finish on a superspeedway-style track this season was his ninth-place run July 10 on the newly repaved and reconfigured Atlanta Motor Speedway oval. It was his first of three top-10 finishes this season.


● Sunday’s 500-mile race around the mammoth 2.66-mile oval will be Custer’s 106th career Cup Series start. The 2020 Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 10th-place finish there in April 2021 is the best of his first five Cup Series visits to Talladega and was the first of his two top-10 finishes earned last season. Custer led seven laps and finished 13th in last October’s rain-shortened race at Talladega, and saw his day there end prematurely this past April with engine issues.


● The 24-year-old from Ladera Ranch, California, had promising runs in both of his Talladega outings during his 2020 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.


● Riding along with Custer on his SHR Mustang this weekend is team co-owner Gene Haas’ 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 and shipped directly to end users. 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.


Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing


What kind of impact has the NextGen car had on superspeedway-style racing this season?

“I think the biggest thing about the superspeedway racing this year in 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 to what we’ve seen in the past. 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.”


You’ve had some solid finishes on the larger tracks the past three years, including a top-10 at Talladega last year, a near top-10 in last year’s Daytona 500, and your ninth-place run in your last visit to Atlanta. How do you feel that bodes for your chances this weekend?

“We’ve had some solid races that we needed at the time, and I think if a thing or two would’ve gone our way at the end of those races, we would’ve ended up with even better finishes. I’m confident our Ford guys are bringing us a fast Mustang for this race. These are races where you can’t control a whole lot and you have to hope for the best, especially during the playoffs when guys are going all out for stage points, and then the potential there always seems to be for calamity at the end of these races. You have to race your race the best you can to put yourself in a good position. It can be pretty stressful, but I guess all of the races can be stressful if you let them.”


You seemed to take to Talladega from the get-go, running well in both races during your 2020 Rookie of the Year season before potential top-five finishes slipped away. Safe to say you enjoy racing there?

“We had strong runs and we did it without any practice or qualifying, so that was definitely an adventure. Having no practice was definitely a concern because you want as much practice as you can get to just feel things out and see what’s working and what’s not working. But we figured it out pretty quickly in the races, as it turned out. We had fast Ford Mustangs both times there that year. I think we had top-five cars at both races, and we were able to race our way to the front both times. But we ran out of fuel at the end of the June race, and ended up getting caught up in a big wreck a little past halfway in the October race. I’m optimistic we’ll bring a fast Mustang again this weekend.”




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