19-year-old Cole Custer is having a solid rookie season in the NASCAR XFINITY Series, currently riding a streak of four straight top-10 finishes, highlighted by a season-best fourth at Dover International Speedway.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver took some time to speak with Popular Speed’s Ashley McCubbin about his thoughts on the year so far.
Popular Speed: How would you characterize your season so far?
Cole Custer: I would say better than expected. We’ve ran up front, scored some top-fives. Being a new team, we came into the year not knowing how it would go and whether we would be quick right away. So running well so far has been great.
PS: What’s been the biggest surprise for you as a rookie?
CC: I think the biggest surprise is just trying to get the finishes that you want, be patient to the end and make sure you’re there for the end, and not take yourself out of the race early.
PS: Do you think there are areas that could use improvement?
CC: It seems like we can get a little better on our short track program. I feel that we’ve been pretty fast on the miles and a halves. But at the short track, we’ve had some bad cars and just had some that we need to get a little bit better. I feel like we’re learning as we go as we’re getting better and better, but our short track can improve more.
PS: Speaking of a short track, what are your thoughts going into Iowa Speedway this weekend?
CC: I’m looking forward to it. I feel like we’ve learned a lot since the last short track that we ran, and I think it’s a place that I’ve kind of ran good at before. I think it will be a good race for us, so hopefully we can keep our consistency going.
PS: With the runner-up finish last year in the Camping World Truck Series there. How much of a boost does that give your confidence?
CC: It gives you confidence that you can get around there good. You have confidence in yourself, and what you want, and how you can drive the place. It’s a familiar place that I’ve been too a lot so I feel that I know the surroundings pretty good, and the track really well. So we’ll just see what we can do and hopefully keep it out front.
PS: What’s the secret to being successful at Iowa?
CC: You definitely have to get through the bumps good in (turns) one and two. It’s getting rougher as it goes, and the bump there is definitely one of the biggest problems. And then just overall, just getting the balance right. You want to be able to turn the center good and make the gas. It’s a really fun track to drive; it’s starting to get wore out, and everything, so it’s one of the better ones that we go to.
Cole Custer will look to score his first career XFINITY Series victory, following a runner-up at Iowa last year in the truck series.
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