Cole Custer Notes of Interest

  • Cole Custer’s top-10 streak lived on with his 10th-place finish last Saturday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It was his seventh consecutive top-10 of the season, which tied him with Chandler Smith for longest top-10 streak in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season. Custer looks to make it eight in a row this weekend, ideally by way of a trip to victory lane, in Saturday’s BetRivers 200 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway. Smith’s top-10 run started at the season-opening race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and came to an end two weekends ago with his 15th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Custer hopes another strong run on the high-banked, concrete mile oval at Dover will give him sole possession of the season’s longest top-10 streak. Last weekend at Talladega, Custer’s solid victory bid was foiled by 11 laps of overtime, during which he was forced to pit for a splash of fuel to get him through the final green-white-checkered finish. The driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang Dark Horse has ridden his top-10 streak and 83 stage points earned this season to his second position in the driver standings, just 14 points behind leader Smith.
  • The Monster Mile has been the scene of some monster efforts by “Stone Cole” Custer. Saturday’s 200-lap race will mark his eighth Xfinity Series start on the Delmarva Peninsula. During his most recent start there last April, he earned a seventh-place finish after starting second and led 13 laps in the early part of the race. He also won the $100,000 Xfinity Dash 4 Cash prize as the highest finisher among his three competitors – Jeb Burton, Sheldon Creed, and Parker Kligerman. Custer was victorious in the October 2019 Xfinity Series race at Dover, leading 31 of the final 32 laps and taking the checkered flag one second ahead of runner-up Justin Allgaier. In the May 2019 race, Custer 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. That all adds up to six top-10 finishes in seven starts at Dover, the lone outlier being his 13th-place finish in the May 2018 race, with 237 laps led, an average start of 9.9, and an average finish of 5.6.
  • Custer has nine starts at the Monster Mile outside of the Xfinity Series – four in the NASCAR Cup Series, three in the Truck Series, and two in the K&N Pro Series East. He never finished outside the top-15 at Dover in the Cup Series, earning best finishes of 10th in the May 2020 and 2021 races. In Truck Series competition, Custer 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.

Riley Herbst Notes of Interest

  • Riley Herbst and Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway are an appropriate pairing as the driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing hunts for a win in Saturday’s BetRivers 200 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway, affectionately known as The Monster Mile. It’s a high-banked, concrete track that can chew up and spit out even the most seasoned racers, but Herbst has acquitted himself quite well there in his six career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts there. He has three top-10 finishes with a best result of sixth in the August 2020 race there, and he’s never finished outside the top-25. Herbst’s solid runs at Dover aren’t confined to the Xfinity Series. He also has a pair of starts there in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, which produced finishes of eighth and seventh, respectively, in the 2016 and 2017 races. In addition, he’s driving for a two-time Dover Xfinity Series winner. Stewart-Haas scored its first victory at the track in October 2019 with Herbst’s teammate, Cole Custer, and its second in August 2020 with Chase Briscoe.
  • In last Saturday’s mayhem at the end of the scheduled 300-mile race at Talladega, Herbst continued to show the speed he’s consistently carried for most of the 2024 season and finally left his recent spate of bad luck behind him. After qualifying eighth, Herbst ran in the top-10 for a majority of the race, leading three times for a total of 13 laps. An untimely pit stop near the end of the race to check for damage and a splash of fuel seemed to end Herbst’s bid for the win. Several overtime restarts, though, proved to work in Herbst’s favor, as he not only gained his spots back but avoided mayhem on the last lap to capture a second-place finish. It was his best finish at Talladega and his second top-10 of 2024. Since the season opener at Daytona, the Monster Energy driver has earned a total of 90 stage points and one playoff point via his stage win on March 23 at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in Austin, Texas. He arrives at Dover sixth in the driver standings.
  • By virtue of his runner-up finish last Saturday, Herbst has successfully qualified himself for the fourth and final Xfinity Dash 4 Cash race of the season. He will now have a chance to race for the $100,000 prize by finishing ahead of his three fellow Xfinity Series drivers who also qualified last week – Ryan Sieg, Anthony Alfredo and Jesse Love. Custer won two of last year’s four Dash 4 Cash bonuses, including the final one last May at Dover.

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang Dark Horse

Dover is a tricky track, where trouble can sneak up on you quickly. How do you stay out of the grasp of Miles the Monster and get out of that race cleanly with a win?

“When you’re going to Dover, you have to be really smart about different situations that happen, and being in traffic. The key is knowing when to be aggressive and when not to be aggressive. You can get yourself into a really bad bind getting into traffic or trying to pass people when you really shouldn’t. You can also have somebody on your bumper trying to pass you, and then you just get turned. This track can come out and bite you pretty fast if you’re not smart. The key to success at Dover is patience and knowing when to be aggressive and when to play it safe. That’s the key to making it to victory lane.”

You scored your seventh straight top-10 of the season at Talladega last Saturday, tying for the longest streak of the season with Chandler Smith. Yet, your first win of the season has been elusive. What more do you need to seal the deal this weekend at Dover?

“Man, we’ve been so fast but we just need that little bit more. We have seemed to have it all, but we’re searching for what else we need to be the best of the best. It’s more difficult than a lot of people realize because the Xfinity Series field is filled with a bunch of strong drivers. It’s not like it used to be where you had your big three drivers who were winning week after week. Now, there are a solid 12 to 15 cars that can compete for wins. It’s obviously exciting to be a part of that competition, but we’re trying to figure out what we’re missing so we can be the ones in victory lane. We’ve been trying new stuff every week, and I think we’re getting closer. Hopefully, it’ll be our weekend at Dover.”

Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang Dark Horse

You’re going for the Dash 4 Cash prize this week after your runner-up finish at Talladega. How would it feel to win it at Dover, a track where you’ve had some strong runs?

“I’m pumped to be part of the Dash 4 Cash this year. We missed out on it last year due to some bad luck, but I’ve always thought this was a great initiative by Xfinity. They’ve been such a great partner for our series, and this is a program that a lot of teams look forward to during the season. Our runner-up finish last weekend seemed to be a turnaround point for us and I’m hoping that continues so that this weekend we can not only bring home the win, but also a $100,000 check for my No. 98 Monster Energy team, which has stuck it out with me during the rough times.”

The Monster Mile has been known to chew up even the most seasoned of drivers and spit them out. How do you avoid trouble at Dover to give yourself a chance to go for the win?

“Dover is such a difficult track to navigate, but for a driver, it can be fun. You have to stay out of trouble in order to be there at the end. Honestly, it’s about being patient, which I’ve struggled with in the past. It’s a good skill to learn at these difficult tracks because you have to know when to pass and when not to. You can’t be too aggressive or it’ll bite you. That’s a lesson that I’ve had to learn in my career, but I’ve had good people behind me to help me grow as a driver and teach me to take it lap by lap. I’m excited to head to Dover and not only race for a win, but also that Dash 4 Cash bonus check.”