NXS Phoenix 1 Media Availability (Cole Custer)

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang Dark Horse, returns to Phoenix Raceway for the first time since winning the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship at the track last November. Custer spoke about return to the Valley of the Sun with media members Saturday morning.

COLE CUSTER, No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang Dark Horse – LAST WEEK YOU HAD A REALLY GREAT CAR AT LAS VEGAS FINISHING SECOND. DO YOU THINK THAT THAT COULD BE A TURNING POINT FOR YOU TO START YOU KNOW KNOCK IT OFF MAYBE SOME TOP 10S TOP 5S? “That’s the hope you know I mean I felt like we definitely had a great car last week. We didn’t start out the race how we wanted it but we definitely made our car better and that’s just a testament to our guys and how we communicate and how we can get things better throughout a race. Overall, the season really started at Vegas. I felt like we had fast cars we needed to be a little bit better but I felt like overall we’re right in the mix where we need to be so just got to keep it rolling from here.” 

I SAW YOU AND FRANKIE (MUNIZ) WERE AT THE COYOTES GAME THE OTHER NIGHT SO I GUESS TWO PARTS TO THAT. ARE YOU A HOCKEY FAN YOURSELF? AND I UNDERSTAND YOU’VE GOTTEN TO KNOW FRANKIE OVER THE LAST COUPLE OF MONTHS WORKING WITH FORD AND ALL THAT WHAT KIND OF PERSON IS HE AND WHAT KIND OF RACER IS HE I GUESS IN TERMS OF WORK ETHIC AND ALL THAT? “The Coyotes game was really cool. I wouldn’t say I follow hockey a lot but it’s probably the coolest sport that you can see in person. I feel like every single time you go to a game it’s like this is the coolest thing in the world. Frankie in general, he’s just the nicest guy in the world. He’s super easy to work with and wants to learn. I feel like he has the potential to go out there and run good. It’s just having the right opportunity and being able to execute how he needs to and get the experience because obviously he hasn’t run Xfinity cars that much. I think overall he’s going to be learning to start, but I think he does have the potential to go out there and run good.”

THE LAST TIME YOU WERE HERE, YOU WERE CROWNED THE NASCAR XFINITY SERIES CHAMPION. SO HOW DOES IT FEEL TO BE BACK? AND WHAT WILL IT TAKE TO GO BACK TO BACK? “It’s pretty cool coming back in here through the garage and everything and just kind of remembering how that all went the last time we were here. But at the end of the day, it doesn’t owe you anything. Even if you’re the champion, it doesn’t really matter. You got to go out here and make sure you’re bringing the intensity to go out there and win like we were last year. So I feel like we do have the potential and the team do it. It’s just a matter of putting it all together.”

YOU’VE BEEN VERY SUCCESSFUL HERE AT PHOENIX THROUGHOUT YOUR CAREER IN BOTH THE XFINITY AND THE CUP SERIES. WHAT IS IT ABOUT PHOENIX RACEWAY THAT YOU THINK SUITS YOUR DRIVING STYLE AND WHY YOU’RE JUST SO GOOD HERE? “I don’t know. There were years here where I didn’t feel like I was that good. I think it definitely takes a good car and a good team. When you have such flat corners and high speeds, it really comes down to how your car handles because when it’s that flat of a corner, it’s very hard to get a car to handle how you want it to. So I feel like we’ve definitely worked on our cars and gotten them better and better. I think even when I first came here in a K&N car, or ARCA car now, it wasn’t a really good racetrack for me, but I think it does come down to you gotta have that car that can wrap the bottom how you need to. As a driver, you get more experience on how to get the car how you want it, but it takes the whole package here.”

THE DOGLEG HERE DISTINGUISHES THIS TRACK FROM ANY OTHER TRACK IN THE ENTIRE SERIES. SOME DRIVERS, THEY DON’T NECESSARILY CARE TO GO DOWN THERE BECAUSE OF THE TRANSITION. THEY FEEL IT’S KIND OF A VIOLENT TRANSITION. DO YOU FEEL OBLIGATED TO USE THE DOGLEG, PARTICULARLY ON RESTARTS? “You have to. There’s no avoiding it. If you avoid it, they’re going to put you three wide or they’re going to get around you or get inside of you. So you definitely have to do it even in qualifying. I feel like before it was kind of, you know, some guys would cut the dogleg some guys wouldn’t but in the Xfinity cars today I mean you’ll see pretty much everybody probably go down there because it’s I would say it’s probably worth a half a tenth to a tenth but it’s one of those things that when you come here you know you got to go down there and do it.” 

Ford Performance PR