NASCAR XFINITY Series Overview
Event: Atlanta 250
Date: Saturday, March 4, 2017
Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway
Layout: 1.54-mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
After watching Kurt Busch kick off the SHR-Ford partnership by winning the Daytona 500, does that motivate you even more to go out and find success with the XFINITY program?
“It was awesome watching Kurt win down in Daytona with Ford’s first race with Stewart-Haas. With all the help and support Ford has given our team, we want to make them proud and put the blue oval out front. This weekend will be a great opportunity for us to do just that and make Ford proud.”
You’ve finally had a taste of racing in your new Haas Automation Ford Mustang. How well do you think you will perform based on the car you had in Daytona?
“I feel like we had a car that could really race well in Daytona and that’s exactly what you will want in Atlanta. With all the tire fall-off at Atlanta, you’re going to want a car that handles well and we accomplished that in Daytona. We tested in Atlanta once and we felt like we put together a great car. Hopefully, we can get Gene (Haas), Tony (Stewart) and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing their first Xfinity Series win.”
What is unique about racing in Atlanta?
“Atlanta is one of the most unique places we go to because the track is so worn out. The whole weekend, you’re just going to be trying to keep the tires in good shape. It’s extremely fun for the drivers since we get to slip around a ton. One of our biggest goals is to just have a solid race. We’re looking to execute our plan and have a fast car, and hopefully we’ll be up front at the end. The crew has been working hard to ensure we have the best Haas Automation Ford Mustang we can build.”
You’ve made laps around Atlanta in the Truck Series. Do you feel familiar with the track, and how will that translate to racing XFINITY cars?
“Having raced in the Truck Series at Atlanta will definitely help me this weekend. However, there are a lot of differences between a truck and an Xfinity car, so it’s good that I’ve seen the track before and felt the characteristics of it.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
Now that Stewart-Haas Racing is the 2017 Daytona 500-winning team, does this motivate you to bring the same success in the XFINITY Series?
“Definitely, especially with Ford’s backing and how good of a start they’re off to winning an XFINITY race and the Daytona 500. It definitely makes us want to continue that success for them and Stewart-Haas Racing.”
What are your expectations for racing in Atlanta?
“We went and tested there and it went really well. I think we’ll have a great shot at placing well. The main goal is to get some points and make some solid stage runs to bring us higher in the points.”
How well are you and Cole communicating, and how will that translate to Atlanta?
“I would say we are communicating really well. Obviously, I’m still learning him and he’s still learning me, but I couldn’t ask for a better way to start than it already has. Having that test in Atlanta helped a lot. Daytona is relatively low-pressure, so it’s kind of an easy place to go out and practice on the first weekend. So, we’ve kind of eased into the tougher tracks like Atlanta. I think things are going really well.”
Can you compare a 19-year-old Cole Custer’s style to veteran drivers you have worked with in the past?
“Cole is his own person, personality-wise. He’s kind of quiet and he’s calm. That’s one thing that’s nice about him. A lot of times, younger drivers are not good at staying patient or calm in the car and he doesn’t seem to have that issue. Nothing really seems to bother him. I’ve been extremely impressed with him and he’s done a good job.”
- Tom Jensen
NASCAR Editor at FOXSports.com & RACER Magazine