• Cole Custer is hunting another $100,000 as the NASCAR Xfinity Series heads to the fourth and final Xfinity Dash 4 Cash race of the season during Saturday’s A-Game 200 at Dover (Del.) Motor Speedway. After winning his second career Dash 4 Cash prize last Saturday at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway with the No. 00 Haas Automation team, Custer qualified once again for this week’s final round of the four-driver race within the race. He’ll look to finish ahead of fellow Xfinity Series regulars Jeb Burton, Sheldon Creed, and Parker Kligerman. This year’s Dash 4 Cash program started April 1 at Richmond (Va.) Raceway, continued with rounds two and three April 15 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway and last Saturday at Talladega, respectively, and concludes at Dover. Custer first won the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash check after his April 2019 victory at Richmond.
• The Monster Mile has been the scene of some monster efforts by “Stone Cole” Custer in the past. Saturday’s A-Game 200 will mark his seventh Xfinity Series start on the concrete mile oval. In his last Xfinity Series start there in October 2019, the native of Ladera Ranch, California, led 31 of the final 32 laps and was victorious by a one-second margin over 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 five top-10 finishes in six starts at Dover, the lone outlier being his 13th-place finish in the May 2018 race.
• 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. Custer never finished outside the top-15 at Dover in the Cup Series. He earned a best finish 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. Herbst is the driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) and Dover is affectionately known as the “Monster Mile.” At a track that can chew up and spit out even the most seasoned racers, Herbst has acquitted himself well on the concrete mile oval. In his five career NASCAR Xfinity Series starts there, Herbst has four top-10 finishes with a best result of sixth in August 2020. He’s never finished outside the top-20. While still seeking his first Xfinity Series win, Herbst is driving for a Dover Xfinity Series winner. SHR owns two Xfinity Series victories at the track – October 2019 with Herbst’s teammate Cole Custer, and August 2020 with Chase Briscoe.
• While luck hasn’t been on Herbst’s side the last three races, his confidence has not wavered as he heads to a track that suits his style of racing. His last Dover outing last April resulted in a ninth-place finish in his No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang. He’s also excelled in his 17 Xfinity Series starts the past three seasons with SHR on tracks a mile or less in length, 12 of which resulted in top-10 finishes. He finished fourth earlier this season on the mile oval at Phoenix Raceway, and he hadn’t finished outside the top-10 on a track a mile or less in length since an accident ended his day early in the March 2022 race at Phoenix.
• Herbst’s solid runs at the Monster Mile aren’t confined to the Xfinity Series. He also has two starts at Dover in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series east. In the 2016 and 2017 races, Herbst finished eighth and seventh, respectively.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang
Dover is a tricky track, where trouble seems to sneak up on you quickly. How do you stay out of the grasp of Miles the Monster and get out of that race cleanly?
“I think with going to Dover, you just have to be really smart about different situations and being in traffic. It’s about 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. You can also have somebody on your bumper trying to pass you. This track can come out and bite you pretty fast. The key to success here is patience and knowing when to be aggressive and when not to be.”
You’re going for back-to-back Dash 4 Cash prizes after scoring the $100,000 bonus at Talladega. How would it feel to win it again at Dover, a track where you’ve had success?
“Winning $100,000 is a huge deal for our No. 00 Haas Automation Ford team. It’s probably one of the coolest things that Xfinity does in the sport, I think, doing this Dash 4 Cash program. People are going to race hard for it. You know exactly where those three other guys are and how you’re going to race them throughout the day. It means a lot to qualify for the second week in a row, and hopefully we can be the ones to come out on top again. Dover’s been a good track for us, and we plan to pounce on that.”
Riley Herbst, Driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang
Luck hasn’t been on your side these past few weeks, but you haven’t seemed to waver in your confidence in both your driving skill and the No. 98 Monster Energy team. What do you have to do to get back on track?
“I don’t really think there’s one thing we have to do in order to get back on track. I feel like at Richmond we would have had a top-three finish if we didn’t get wrecked. At Martinsville, we should have finished sixth to eighth, so that should have been another top-10, but we got wrecked, as well. And Talladega is Talladega, so I feel like our speed is there and just getting back to what we’ve been doing at the start of the year and we’ll be just fine.”
You’ve consistently been a contender up front this year –you’re called a silent contender – even after the unfortunate incidents these past few weeks. What do you feel like you’ve improved upon since your first season with the No. 98 team in 2021?
“I think there are a lot of things, not just one. Consistency on and off the racetrack. Working with my crew chief Richard Boswell and understanding our goals. How to execute on our goals. My life outside of racing is very good. I’m extremely happy when I get to the racetrack and while I’m at the racetrack, and I think that leads to a lot of success. I’m confident every time I strap in behind the wheel. I enjoy what I do, so I think that also leads to good results, and I’m looking forward to continuing that this season.”