Interview

Cole Custer – The Perfect Underdog for Sonoma Raceway

By: Ashley McCubbin

Cole Custer may not be the first name you think of heading to the road course, but he is not someone you should forget. After all, Stewart-Haas Racing is making progress on the road courses.

“I would say for us as an organization we’ve been solid on the road course races,” he told NEWS FROM THE PITS. “We’ve definitely wanted to be better, but I feel like we’ve been in the mix at least.  I feel like we can run top 10 and from there it’s just a matter of one adjustment and one thing going right on pit road and you’re in the top five and looking for a win, so I think it’s just a matter of fine-tuning it a little bit, but I’ve been pretty happy with our road course cars, but it’s just a matter of having the whole race play out right.”

Through his Cup Series career, Custer has not been the most flashy road racer, but scored a top-10 last season at the Charlotte Motor Speedway ROVAL. However, taking a glance at his history in NASCAR gives you the reason he’s a darkhorse.

He scored three ARCA East Series top-five’s on the road courses, and a fourth at Sonoma in ARCA West Series. Noting his rookie campaign saw no events in California post-COVID, we have not got a gauge yet to see how that will translate – including the experience of having been the carosel in a different series.

“I think it’s just a really awkward corner and it doesn’t feel like a corner a race car should be going through,” he reflected. “It’s really tight, really downhill, off camber.  It’s just a really tough corner and it’s something that you never go through there and feel like you did it right.  It never feels natural, so it’s one of those things you just kind of have to hit your marks and make sure you don’t overdo it through there.”

He also was in the hunt to win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, prior to contact from John Hunter Nenemchek.

Moving on up, through 2018 and 2019, he only scored one finish outside the top-10 in the Xfinity Series, including a fourth at Road America. So it would make you tend to believe it’s just a matter of time before the same occurs in the NASCAR Cup Series.

“I’ve always loved the road course races and I feel like I’ve actually been pretty close to winning a few and I still haven’t won one,” he commented. “That’s probably the one thing in my career up to now that I really want to try and check off is have a road course win because I feel like every single one I’ve been to we’ve run pretty solid and I’ve been happy with it.

“There are so many things that have to go right to win a road course race with the strategy and people are running off course and running into you and spinning out.  It’s just the races are so crazy that you have to have a lot of things go right, so I definitely want to try and check off that road course win.  That would be huge.”

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