Notes of Interest
● Cole Custer and the No. 41 Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) feature Autodesk as co-primary partner for the fifth and final time this season during Sunday’s Bank of America Roval 400 on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval. San Francisco-based Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), a leader in software applications for the engineering, manufacturing, construction, architecture, media and entertainment industries, is capping off its fifth season with SHR, which started May 1 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway, then returned for the June 12 race at its hometown Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, the Aug. 27 Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, and the Sept. 17 Bass Pro Shops Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
● The Autodesk partnership with SHR 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’ 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 109-lap race around the 2.28-mile, 17-turn road course will be Custer’s 107th career Cup Series start and his third on the Roval. He finished ninth in his Cup Series debut at the track two years ago this weekend for his seventh top-10 of the season en route to capturing 2020 Rookie of the Year honors. The finish came in just his second career road-course race in the Cup Series. Custer started 23rd and finished 18th in this race last October.
● The 24-year-old driver from Ladera Ranch, California, will be making his 15th points-paying Cup Series start on a road course. He matched his career-best road-course finish when he brought home a ninth-place finish July 31 on the infield circuit at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
● 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 (Calif.) Raceway, Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Virginia International Raceway in Alton, and Road Atlanta.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Autodesk/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
You’ve had some of the best runs of your career on road courses, everywhere from your rookie year in the Cup Series on the Roval, down through the Xfinity, Truck, ARCA and K&N ranks. Does that give you extra confidence when you go to road courses?
“I’ve always loved the road-course races and I feel like I’ve actually been pretty close to winning a few and I still haven’t won one. That’s probably the one thing in my career up to now that I really want to try and check off, to have a road-course win. I feel like, every single one I’ve been to, we’ve run pretty solid and I’ve been happy with it. There are so many things that have to go right to win a road-course race with the strategy, and people are running off course and running into you and spinning out. It’s just the races are so crazy that you have to have a lot of things go right, so I definitely want to try and check off that road-course win. That would be huge.”
You had a solid top-10 on the Roval in your first-ever Cup Series race there in 2020. What do you remember about that day, and how do you feel about your progress in perfecting your road-racing craft?
“What I remember most is that we had a lot of ups and downs in that race, which is typical on road courses, in general, especially on the Roval and especially on restarts. There’s always a lot going on and the potential for mayhem is always there. The crew stuck with it all race long and we ended up with a top-10 that we could feel good about. And I think one of the bigger positives that came out of that day was that we learned some things with regard to road-course racing that definitely carried on over into these last two seasons with all the road-course races we had on the schedule. We had a solid day in our last road-course race at Watkins Glen, so I can’t wait to get to the Roval, and the team feels the same way.”
How would you evaluate the road-course program at SHR?
“I would say, for us as an organization, we’ve been solid in the road-course races. You definitely always want to be better, but I feel like we’ve been in the mix more often than not, at least. I feel like we can run top-10 most of the time and, from there, it’s just a matter of one adjustment and one thing going right on pit road and you’re in the top-five and looking for a win. So I think it’s just a matter of fine-tuning it a little bit, but I’ve been pretty happy with our road-course cars. It’s just a matter of having the whole race play out right.”