Stewart-Haas Racing: Texas NXS Advance (Cole Custer | Riley Herbst)

Stewart-Haas Racing

•  Cole Custer is ready to head back to an intermediate track with a new look for Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. After extending his top-10 streak to five consecutive races with his strong showing in last Saturday’s race at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, the 26-year-old driver is ready to head back to a track where he knows how to park his No. 00 Andy’s Frozen Custard Ford Mustang Dark Horse for Stewart-Haas Racing in victory lane. Custer previously won at Texas in November 2018 and, with how things are shaping up, Custer appears poised for his first victory of this season. His top-10 streak started with his runner-up finish on March 2 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. During this stretch, he’s also scored two poles – one at Las Vegas and one at Phoenix Raceway. While he had to work hard for his finishes of 10th and eighth, respectively, on the short tracks at Richmond (Va.) Raceway and Martinsville the past two weekends, he’s now heading back to a track that is akin to the 1.5-mile Las Vegas oval. In his 88 career intermediate-track starts, Custer has scored nine wins, 38 top-fives, and led 1,810 laps.

•  Saturday’s Andy’s Frozen Custard 300 will mark Custer’s eighth Xfinity Series start at Texas. In his prior seven visits to the track, he has earned five top-fives, including his November 2018 victory when he bested runner-up Tyler Reddick by .162 of a second. Custer earned back-to-back fifth-place finishes in his first two Texas starts in April and November 2017, and a fourth-place finish in April 2018. He finished eighth from the fourth starting position there in November 2019, then added another fifth-place finish in his most recent race at Texas last September in the Round of 12 in the NASCAR Xfinity Series Playoffs.

•  Custer will sport a bright new paint scheme this weekend as Andy’s Frozen Custard premieres in its first 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, where fans can enjoy Andy’s on-site through branded kiosks, treat trucks and in suites.

•  Riley Herbst is ready for a change of scenery after a string of bad luck in the past three races, the first on a road course, followed by two on short tracks. In the back-to-back short-track races at Martinsville and Richmond, Herbst had strong, top-10 runs ruined by incidents not of his doing. Last weekend at Martinsville, the driver of the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang Dark Horse qualified 22nd but wasted no time in his drive forward, climbing to just outside the top-10 by the end of Stage 1 on a track where it’sdifficult to pass. He restarted the second stage in 10th, but contact with a car in front of him when the driver leading their line missed a shift caused front end damage to the No. 98 Ford. The Monster Energy team went right to work on the damage and put Herbst back on track in 26th, from there he was able to fight his way into the top-10 and looked to be on his way to salvaging a strong finish until the race’s overtime restart. A wheel hop sent Herbst for a spin and relegated him to a 25th-place finish.

•  Saturday’s race will mark Herbst’s eighth Xfinity Series start at the 1.5-mile Texas oval. Of his seven prior appearances, he’s finished in the top-12 four times with a best of fifth earned in September 2022. Since joining Stewart-Haas in 2021, he’s only finished outside the top-12 at Texas once. He scored an eighth-place finish and a fifth-place finish, respectively, in the two events there in 2022. Custer’s November 2018 triumph is the team’s lone Xfinity Series win at Texas.

•  Herbst knows how to win on intermediate tracks. His first career Xfinity Series victory came last October on a sister track to Texas – Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Not only did the 25-year-old driver park his Ford Mustang in victory lane, he bested the field by more than 14 seconds, the second largest margin of victories in the series. Stewart-Haas has excelled on intermediate tracks in the Xfinity Series, having scored 17 wins on intermediate tracks, nine of which were earned by the No. 98 team.

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

The No. 00 team is premiering Andy’s Frozen Custard as primary partner this weekend for the first of three races this season. And you helped create your own flavor that’s for sale at Andy’s Frozen Custard locations. What does it mean to welcome this new partner, especially in light of your social media series called “Cole Custer’s Custard Review?”

“It means a lot to welcome new partners onto the No. 00 team. These are partners that myself, my management team, and the Stewart-Haas Racing sales team work hard to put together. I coincidentally met Andy Kuntz during the 2023 championship banquet week on the street in Nashville. I introduced myself and, a couple of months later, we’re racing his paint scheme at his primary race in Texas. It was the perfect partnership given my love for custard and the social video series I used to do. I’m excited to work with them in the 2024 season and try to get them some wins. I have big hopes for this weekend at Texas.”

You’ve mentioned that Texas is unlike other intermediate tracks because of how difficult it is for a driver. What about it makes it so difficult?

“The two ends of Texas Motor Speedway are just so different. It’s an intermediate track like many on the schedule, but there’s a lot of variation in the track. You’ve got some big bumps, which makes the handling pretty hard. Then you’ve got a daytime race in the Texas heat – even if it is only April. Texas is hot, which makes the track super slick. All of that, in addition to the high speeds we run there, make it really tough to get your racecar’s setup just right for an entire race. Still, I’m excited to head back to Texas with Andy’s Frozen Custard on my car this weekend. You just have to be preprared for anything. I trust that my No. 00 team will bring me a fast Ford Mustang Dark Horse like they do every week, though, so hopefully we can be up front when the checkered flag flies.”

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

The Xfinity Series only goes to Texas once a season now, but you’ve had some strong runs there in the No. 98 Monster Energy Ford Mustang in prior seasons. In addition, you scored your first Xfinity Series win on the intermediate oval at your hometown Las Vegas Motor Speedway last October. How confident are you heading into this weekend, given all of that?

“I think you can’t ever be super confident. Las Vegas and Texas, while similar in length and size, can still be two very different tracks. Texas is a track that can get very slick and make it very difficult for the handling of a racecar, unlike Vegas. We had some bad luck there last year, but we still showed speed despite the finish. Just like with any other race, it’s all about being smart and putting yourself in the right position at the end of the race. I’ve learned a lot at Texas in my career, and I’m hoping to have a better finish than last year. Winning at Las Vegas last season gave me a lot of confidence and SHR has consistently shown speed on intermediate tracks. Hopefully, that translates over to this weekend. My No. 98 Monster Energy team is working hard to give me the best cars each and every week.”

How do you approach Texas as a driver, given how difficult it can be?

“Honestly, Texas is a beast of its own. It’s a super-fast, 1.5-mile track that you’re probably going to be racing in the Texas heat, no matter what time of year the race is in. No matter what, it’s going to be a challenge. In addition, it’s a day race with the sun beating down on the racetrack. With that said, Texas should be a lot of fun, and I’m always excited to go back there. I performed well there in 2022, so I’m hoping to leave last year’s race behind us and continue that trend this weekend. The key to being up front and competing for a win will be having a fast Monster Energy Ford Mustang Dark Horse and staying out of trouble. It’s your typical intermediate track, but it’s also not. We just have to keep our focus and we can be up front. We haven’t lacked speed this season, just luck.”


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