|● Coming off a rare, two-week hiatus while NASCAR television partner NBC and its family of networks has been immersed in coverage of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, Cole Custer and the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) are ready to get back to action as they head to Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International for Sunday’s NASCAR Cup Series Go Bowling at The Glen. |
● Sunday’s 90-lap race around the 2.45-mile, seven-turn road course will be Custer’s 62nd Cup Series start and his first at Watkins Glen. The annual August event during Custer’s Rookie of the Year campaign in 2020 was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While it will be his first Cup Series appearance at The Glen, Custer has raced there three times each in NASCAR’s Xfinity Series and K&N Pro Series East.
● In his three Watkins Glen starts in the Xfinity Series from 2017 through 2019, all in the No. 00 SHR Ford, Custer finished in the top-12 in all three, his best resulting in a sixth-place finish in 2018. He debuted with a 12th-place finish in 2017 and added a seventh-place finish in 2019.
● Custer’s three NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races at The Glen included finishes of fifth from the pole and third from the inside-second-row starting spot in his two most recent visits in 2015 and 2016, respectively. He led 17 laps in the 2015 event.
● Sunday’s race marks Custer’s seventh points-paying Cup Series race on a road course. In his six previous points-paying Cup Series starts on road courses, Custer’s best was an impressive ninth-place run on the Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway Roval last October. In February, he rallied for a 13th-place finish on the Daytona (Fla.) International Speedwayroad course after dropping back as far as 24th while avoiding a multicar accident in the closing laps. In his most recent road-course outing, Custer finished 17th in the Cup Series’ inaugural race five weekends ago at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. In this year’s non-points Busch Clash on the Daytona road course, Custer drove deep into the top-10 on multiple occasions, but he fell three laps off the pace late in the race when he could not refire his Mustang after serving a self-imposed stop-and-go penalty for missing the backstraight chicane. He finished 20th.
● In his 11 road-course outings in the Xfinity Series from 2017 through 2019, Custer finished outside the top-10 just once with his fourth-place run at Road America in 2018 best of them all.
● Custer also has top-10s in all three of his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series outings on road courses, all three occurring at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. His best was his most recent, a second-place run from the pole with a race-high 39 laps led in the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry in 2016. In addition to his three K&N Pro Series outings at The Glen, Custer has made three starts at Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway with a best finish of fourth in 2019.
● Sunday’s race is the fifth of a ground-breaking seven NASCAR Cup Series races to be held on road courses in 2021 and the first of back-to-back road-course events. From 1988 to 2017, there were only two road courses on the schedule – Sonoma and Watkins Glen. The Charlotte Roval was added in 2018, giving the series three road-course venues. The initial 2021 schedule doubled that tally, with Circuit of the Americas in Austin Texas, Road America, and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course, where the series will race next week, all being added. And when COVID-19 restrictions forced the cancellation of the series’ stop this year at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, the Daytona road course was put in its place.
● After his 14th-place finish three weekends ago at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, Custer arrives at Watkins Glen 28th in the driver standings.
● Returning to Custer’s No. 41 Ford Mustang for SHR is team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, Haas Tooling, which was launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high-quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. HaasTooling.com products became available nationally last July, and the cutting tools available for purchase at HaasTooling.com have proven to be even more important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment. Haas Automation, founded by Haas in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.
● As announced during the annual Coca-Cola 600 Memorial Day weekend, Custer and the team encourage fans to join Wow Wow Classic Waffles in support of Feeding America®, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. Fans are encouraged to text HUNGER to 50555 to make a $5 donation to Feeding America®, by visiting the Feeding America®donation page on Facebook, or the donation page via the Feeding America® website. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.
|Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing|
| What are your thoughts about racing at Watkins Glen, in general?“Watkins Glen’s always been one of my favorite road courses just because there’s so much flow to the racetrack and how fast it is. It’s pretty much hammer down the whole time and it’s just one of those places where you can really feel the flow of the racetrack and how each corner connects with the next one.” |
Do you have a favorite part of the track at Watkins Glen?“I think it’s the esses, going through there almost wide open with guardrails on either side. It’s almost a sketchy part of the track, but it’s fast and it’s fun. I think it’s definitely one of my favorite parts of the track where you can really get after it and carry a lot of speed.”
You’ve raced at Watkins Glen in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and the K&N Pro Series but didn’t get to race there during your rookie Cup Series campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. What will it be like racing this weekend without practice or qualifying?“We always want practice to try things and get used to the track. No matter what it is, practice is always a gain. But being a track we’ve all raced on a pretty decent amount, we all know what we need to bring there. Nothing’s changed a ton about what’s going on at Watkins Glen. So I feel like it’s probably not a huge disadvantage to not be there for a couple of years.”
How would you evaluate the SHR road-course program?“I would say, for us as an organization, we’ve been solid in the road-course races. 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. It’s just a matter of having the whole race play out right.”