Cole Custer Notes of Interest

  • After two weekends on his West Coast home turf and one weekend in the Midwest, Cole Custer is excited to head back to New England for Saturday’s Sci Aps 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. In the midst of a three-race top-10 streak and top-10s in 12 of the last 13 races, the driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang Dark Horse looks to keep the momentum going at one of his favorite tracks. In this latest three-race stretch, Custer finished sixth June 1 at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway, ninth June 8 at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway, and sixth last Saturday at Iowa Speedway in Newton. His nine consecutive top-10s that began with his runner-up finish March 2 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway through his third-place finish May 11 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway remains the longest top-10 streak in the Xfinity Series this season. Custer appeared to be heading for his 10th top-10 in a row May 25 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway when contact with Austin Hill while running third forced him to the sidelines just 26 laps shy of the checkered flag. Custer wasted no time bouncing right back with his top-10 at Portland.
  • Saturday’s Sci Aps 200 will mark Custer’s fifth Xfinity Series start at New Hampshire. In his three prior starts from 2017 to 2019 before his return to the Xfinity Series last season, he never finished outside the top-10 there. His best result was a second-place in 2019, when he was bested only by race-winner Christopher Bell. In last year’s race at the 1.058-mile oval, Custer qualified sixth and looked to be well on his way to another top-10 when contact with another car on the last lap forced him to settle for a 22nd-place finish. Custer also has eight New Hampshire starts outside of the Xfinity Series – four in the NASCAR Cup Series, three in the NASCAR Truck Series, and one in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Two of those were wins – the 2014 Truck Series race and the 2013 K&N Pro Series race.
  • This season marks the 10-year anniversary of Custer’s first career NASCAR win, which took place at New Hampshire. On Sept. 20, 2014, a 16-year-old Custer won from the pole in his seventh career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series start at the track nicknamed the “Magic Mile.” He bested second-place Bubba Wallace by 1.148 seconds. The win came as Custer was running a part-time schedule in the series, and he finished no worse 14th in his first seven starts. His victory also etched his name in the history books as the youngest race winner in NASCAR national series history at 16 years, seven months, and 28 days.
  • In addition to Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire, Custer will also get behind the wheel in Thursday’s Vermont Governor’s Cup presented by the Vermont Lottery at the Thunder Road Speedbowl in Barre, Vermont. He’ll proudly display Andy’s Frozen Custard on the hood of his Ford Mustang for Dale Shaw Racecars during Thursday night’s Late Model race. One of Custer’s manager at Clear28 Agency and childhood best friend, Brandon McReynolds, will serve as his spotter for the race.

Riley Herbst Notes of Interest

  • Riley Herbst is also looking to keep the momentum rolling as he and the No. 98 Monster Energy team for Stewart-Haas Racing head to the Northeast’s “Magic Mile” for Saturday’s Sci Aps 200 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The Midwest was kind to the Las Vegas native as he brought home his second runner-up finish of the 2024 season last Saturday on the .875-mile Iowa Speedway oval in Newton. After qualifying was cancelled due to weather, Herbst started 12th for the 250-lap race, from where he quickly moved forward and held position in the top-10 for a majority of the first stage until a close call with another car put him back in the field. Herbst again drove forward for an eighth-place finish in Stage 2. Herbst encountered another setback when the nose of his racecar sustained right-front damage from contact with another car coming off pit road, forcing him to return to pit road for repairs and leaving him with a restart well outside the top-25. Yet again, Herbst took advantage of the speed of his racecar over the final stage by climbing into the top-10, then securing a spot in the top-five. On a late-race restart, Herbst took a gamble by choosing the bottom lane, which had yet to work for a driver throughout the race, in favor of a front-row starting spot. He passed leader John Hunter Nemechek on the restart and held the point for the next seven laps. Then, on the final green-white-checkered restart, Herbst and Sam Mayer waged an epic battle for the win with Mayer crossing the finish line just .146 of a second ahead of Herbst. It was Herbst’s second top-10 in three races, the first coming by way of a 10th-place finish June 1 at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway.
  • Saturday’s race at New Hampshire will mark Herbst’s fourth at the 1.058-mile oval. Best of his prior three visits resulted in a 10th-place finish in his first start there in July 2021. He also has two New Hampshire starts outside of the Xfinity Series, both in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2018 and 2019. He finished fourth and sixth, respectively.
  • During last July’s Xfinity Series race at New Hampshire, Herbst qualified 14th for the scheduled 200-lap event. While he had momentum and speed throughout the race, the team’s strategy put him in a good position for the final stage. Herbst looked to be headed for a top-three finish as the race was coming to a close, but contact with the No. 10 car of Austin Dillon during the green-white-checkered finish relegated Herbst to a 20th-place finish, his second top-20 in three career starts at New Hampshire.
  • This upcoming week marks the first anniversary of Herbst working with his crew chief Davin Restivo, who first climbed atop the pitbox for the No. 98 team last June 24 at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway in the 15th Xfinity Series race of the season. Herbst had been working with Richard Boswell as his crew chief since his arrival at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2021, while Restivo was an engineer for the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Cup Series team and the crew chief for Aric Almirola’s June 2023 Xfinity Series win at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway. In their first weekend together, the Herbst and Restive earned a solid second-place finish at Nashville. While bad luck found them in the following weeks as they continued to learn to work together, they made steady progress and ultimately collaborated on Herbst’s first career Xfinity Series win in October at his hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Though not among the 2023 Xfinity Series playoff field, the No. 98 team earned more points than any other team in the Round of 8. In addition to the Las Vegas victory, the duo has now earned 18 top-10 finishes.

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

Your statistics at New Hampshire are strong across all of the NASCAR national touring series, including wins in the Truck Series and K&N Pro Series East. How do you feel coming into this weekend’s race?

“Honestly, I love going to New Hampshire. I love seeing the fans up there because of how hardcore they are and just how excited they are for NASCAR to come back to town. This track is a very technical and difficult racetrack for a driver, though. It can be very awkward and challenging to drive because of the flatter turns. Overall, that’s what makes it fun for us, but it throws an extra curveball in there if your car isn’t handling just right. We’ve been searching for a win all season and while we’ve been close, I think we just need that little bit more to find it. I’m hoping that the No. 00 Haas Automation team can put a strong weekend together so we can park our Ford Mustang Dark Horse in victory lane.”

This will mark the 10 year anniversary of your first career NASCAR national series victory, which took place at New Hampshire back in 2014. How much more special would it be to win this weekend in light of that milestone?

“It would mean a lot. It’s weird to think that I’ve really been in this sport for over 10 years. That first win really cemented my name in the history books and helped catapult my career. I’ll never forget the feeling of parking in victory lane for the first time. Not everyone makes it there, so you have to take it all in. To also be the youngest winner in NASCAR’s top three series is still surreal. This is somewhere that I really want to win at again, so to come back in the Xfinity Series and win would be awesome. We had the speed there last year, but that accident took us out of contention for a good finish. We’ve had a strong season so far but we haven’t found victory lane. I’m confident in the team that we can bring a fast car to New Hampshire. To win on the 10-year anniversary of that win would just make it that much better.”

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

You’ve had three prior starts at New Hampshire with a best finish of 10th. What do you think you’ll see this weekend at a track that has been so difficult in the past?

“The plan is very simple this weekend– survive and run up front. We’ve struggled at New Hampshire the past few years, so I really hope that we can get back on track, earn another career-best finish, and go for the win. It’s a very flat track that’s just a little over a mile. It’s similar to Martinsville but still so much different. It’s one of those tracks that I’ve struggled to wrap my head around in the past. New Hampshire has always been a fun track for me, but we got involved in a wreck two years ago that wasn’t of our own doing and then had issues last year, as well. We have the speed to run well, so hopefully you’ll see that this weekend and we can find our way to victory lane.”

We’re closing in on the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs with just 11 races to go until they kick off Sept. 28 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. You’re sitting in a solid position to point your way into the postseason, but what’s your outlook as you weigh the points racing versus going for wins?

“You always want to win your way into the playoffs. Win and you’re in. Still, that doesn’t mean that we just throw points racing out the window. We’ve been in strong positions before that have allowed us to point our way into the playoffs, and it’s nothing to ignore. You have to balance it. Each weekend, we’re going to be going for wins, but you also have to look at the stage points you can gain to help extend that gap between you and the cutline. I think we’ve done a great job of that this season so far. Obviously, not making the playoffs last year stung, so we’ve been doing everything in our power to make sure that we don’t have to experience that heartbreak again. Hopefully we can win soon and put all the points racing to bed, but we’ll see how the next few races play out.”