Cole Custer Notes of Interest

  • Cole Custer and his NASCAR Xfinity Series counterparts are trading in the oval tracks for the unpredictability of the Chicago Street Course in Saturday’s The Loop 121 in downtown Chicago. The Ladera Ranch, California native who scored his second of three wins of 2023 in the inaugural Chicago Street Race a year ago, hits town riding a streak of consistency. He’s scored top-10s in 14 of the past 15 races, including each of the last five, starting with his sixth-place finish June 1 at Portland (Ore.) International Raceway and culminating with his ninth-place finish last Saturday at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway. At Nashville, he qualified second, just .051 of a second shy of his third pole earned this season. He led twice for 64 laps and tallied a total of 15 stage points throughout the race. While he fell back in the final stage due to struggles with his long-run speed, he was able to hold on for a solid ninth-place result, equaling his previous best at the track, earned in June 2023. Custer’s 14th top-10 of the season was his second in a row at Nashville, and he leads the regular-season points standings with a 15-point advantage over Chandler Smith. He’s dealt with the difficulty of the summer heat and rain storms in recent weeks, and now he’ll be presented with a different challenge during NASCAR’s return to the streets of Chicago for the second year in a row.
  • Custer was up for the challenge in last year’s inaugural event, posting the fastest lap in practice before earning the pole for the race. The 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series champion led all 25 laps prior to a torrential downpour that brought out the red flag and eventually led NASCAR officials to call the race before its halfway point, giving Custer his second win of 2023 in unprecedented fashion.
  • Custer will sport the bright and vibrant colors of Andy’s Frozen Custard once again this weekend in the company’s second of three races as primary partner in 2024. Founded in 1986 in Osage Beach, Missouri by Andy Kuntz’s parents John and Carol Kuntz, Andy’s Frozen Custard has been providing the freshest frozen custard in the business for 38 years, giving ice cream the “cold shoulder” by scooping, mixing and presenting handcrafted frozen custard treats with speed and a smile. Since the beginning, the family members have had one dream: to share what makes them happiest with everyone else, and to warm hearts one scoop of frozen custard at a time. With a focus on product quality, customer service and community involvement, Andy’s has grown into the nation’s largest frozen custard-only business, with 150 stores across 15 states proudly serving the World’s Finest Frozen Custard. Andy’s has been committed to supporting developing drivers of all ages from their first race throughout their racing career for more than 30 years, an extension of the family’s lifelong commitment to motorsports. Andy’s is the “Official Frozen Treat” of Texas Motor Speedway.

Riley Herbst Notes of Interest

  • Riley Herbst is ready for the electricity of downtown Chicago during Saturday’s The Loop 121 on the Chicago Street Course. The driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang Dark Horse will bank on his family roots of racing SCORE International Trophy Trucks in the deserts of Mexico and the Desert Southwest while learning to navigate the city streets of Chicago. While the two types of racing are significantly different, both are full of unknowns, but Herbst showed his propensity to overcome the unknown when he piloted the Herbst Motorsports Trophy Truck to a third-place finish in the November 2022 Baja 1000, and a win in last November’s renewal of the iconic event. He’s looking to channel that positive mojo this weekend on 2.2-mile, 12-turn Chicago Street Course as he looks to extend his streak of three consecutive top-10s. His latest run started with a runner-up finish June 15 at Iowa Speedway in Newton, an eighth-place finish at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, and a sixth-place result last Saturday at Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway after battling his way into race-winning contention on the final restart. Herbst’s Nashville effort, waged in extreme heat and humidity, was all the more impressive as his coolsuit malfunctioned early in the race and necessitated an extended pit stop that sent him to the back of the field. He persevered through the extreme conditions in driving to his eighth top-10 of the season.
  • In last year’s inaugural Chicago Street Race, Herbst started 15th and worked his way into the top-10 before pitting to repair damage sustained when he was collected by a spinning car in the opening laps. He worked his way back toward the front until the No. 98 Monster Energy team opted to pit when the caution flag flew on lap 24, dropping him out of the top-20. Lightning then brought out the red flag on lap 25 and the race never resumed due to torrential rain and standing water. When it was declared official the next day, Herbst was credited with a 24th-place finish despite the speed he had shown during the weekend.
  • With just nine races to go before the Xfinity Series Playoffs kick off Sept. 28 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Herbst looks to be in a good position to make the 12-driver postseason field. While he has yet to score his first win of the season that would lock him into the playoff field, his consistency and stage points have put him 103 points above the top-12 cutline. In the regular-season standings, he is currently fifth, 118 points behind his first-place teammate Cole Custer and 40 points behind fourth-place Austin Hill. After missing the playoffs last season, Herbst not only went on to score his first victory during the Round of 8 at his home track of Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but he scored more points than any other driver during that round. He followed up his Las Vegas win with a runner-up finish at Homestead-Miami Speedway and fourth-place finish at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 00 Andy’s Frozen Custard Ford Mustang Dark Horse

You’re returning to the place where you got your second win of the 2023 season in a rain-shortened inaugural event at the Chicago Street Course. You won the pole and led all 25 laps before the torrential downpour came. What’s your confidence level this weekend, knowing the field includes some road course ringers?

“I won’t lie – the competition is going to be stiff this weekend. The Xfinity Series field will have both of the inaugural Chicago Street Course winners racing with myself with SVG (Shane van Gisbergen). That’s just crazy, but it’s a challenge that myself and the No. 00 team are ready for. We have proven that we can compete with the best of them at road courses and hopefully that holds true this weekend. Of course, there’s always extra pressure heading into a race that you had previously won, but I’m excited. I enjoyed this track last year, and to be the inaugural winner meant a lot. We’ve been close to a win the past few weekends, but it’s all about putting it all together and having a great race. We’re close to that win, but we just need that little bit more.”

Andy’s Frozen Custard is back on your No. 00 Ford Mustang Dark Horse this weekend. Talk about that relationship and what it means to have their support this season with their long history in motorsports.

“It means a lot to have the support of Andy’s Frozen Custard on the No. 00 Ford Mustang Dark Horse this year. They’ve been in this sport as a supporter for so long, so to have them on my car just proves that they think I can go win another championship. I met Andy Kuntz (owner) on the streets on Nashville during the NASCAR Awards and immediately gave him my business card. A couple of months later, they were on my car at Texas. It’s a dream come true to have a custard company as a sponsor, and I’m thankful for their support. It was a perfect match and, hopefully I’ll be able to get them a good run at Chicago.”

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

After three strong weekends on intermediates and short tracks, you’re heading back to the Chicago Street Course. What are your expectations for the weekend?

“Honestly, Chicago was one of those races we struggled at last year, so I think our goal this weekend is to just have the same speed we’ve shown all season. We’ve been a top-five car every weekend except two – COTA and Sonoma. Even at those tracks, though, we outperformed for a good portion of the race. We just lacked speed. Still, we were fast at Portland, so hopefully we can see that again at Chicago. It’s such a unique race given its location, and I want to do well there. I’m confident in my No. 98 Monster Energy team and ready for the challenge.”

You’ve found a stride in the summer months during the same timeframe you were having difficulties last season. Describe what you’ve gone through this season to be sitting where you are in the points.

“I think it’s super interesting, to be honest with you, because Iowa and New Hampshire actually gave us our first back-to-back top-10s of the year, which was a big surprise to me. That just kind of shows how fast we are to get stage points and help get us to fifth in points, so I feel like if we could finish where we’ve been running, we would probably be first or second in points, but we’ve had some awful finishes, some of our own doing and some not. It just shows how much speed we’ve had on the No. 98 Monster Energy team because last year we finished really bad, and we were really bad in points. This year, we’re finishing bad and we’re still pretty high in points, so that just means we have to execute and put everything together and I think we can close in on the gap. I believe in this team, though, and I’m having fun right now.”