NASCAR XFINITY Series Overview
Event: Richmond 250 (Round 8 of 33)
Date: April 29, 2017
Location: Richmond (Va.) International Raceway
Layout: .75-mile oval
Cole Custer Notes of Interest
● The Richmond 250 will mark Custer’s fourth race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway and his second NASCAR XFINITY Series race at the .75-mile oval. In his first XFINITY Series start at Richmond, Custer claimed his first XFINITY Series top-10 (April 23, 2016).
● Custer is no stranger to victory lane at Richmond. In 2014, he took the checkered flag after leading 52 laps in the K&N Pro Series East race. In Custer’s three combined starts in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (two races) and NASCAR XFINITY Series (one race) at Richmond, Custer has a win, two top-five finishes, three top-10s and 76 laps led.
● The Richmond 250 is the third of four Dash 4 Cash races on the 2017 XFINITY Series schedule. This means drivers will race for a $100,000 cash bonus. Each of the top-two full-time XFINITY Series drivers from Stage 1 and Stage 2 will become Dash 4 Cash-eligible in the final stage.
● As a Dash 4 Cash race, no full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers with five or more years of experience are entered in the Richmond 250. This means the only NASCAR Cup Series drivers competing in the Richmond 250 are Austin Dillon, Ty Dillon, Daniel Suarez, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson. This is designed to give regular XFINITY Series drivers a better chance to win.
● Last week at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, Custer placed in the top-two in Stage 1, giving him a shot at the $100,000 Dash 4 Cash bonus for the first time this season. In the final stage, he ran as high as third before being collected in an accident with only 38 laps to go, ending his race.
● Custer participated in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) event at Richmond on Thursday, where he taught nearly 500 Central Virginia eighth-grade students the science behind racing. As a freshman student at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Custer is an education advocate.
● Custer is 12th in the XFINITY Series championship standings, 130 points behind series leader Elliot Sadler.
● Custer is third in the XFINITY Series Rookie of the Year standings, 30 points behind leader William Byron and 13 points behind second-place Daniel Hemric.
Cole Custer, Driver Q&A
You have a win, two top-fives and three top-10s at Richmond. What will it take to get your second win at Richmond?
“Richmond is a tough place because you’re just slipping and sliding the whole time, so I think you’ll definitely need a car that can be good on a long run to win there. It’s a really smooth track, but you just slide around like you’re on ice. It makes it really fun and challenging.”
This is your third Dash 4 Cash race. How does that play into your race strategy? Do you focus on the big check or the win?
“I’d say you still go for the overall win because that’s what gets you into the playoffs. All of us will definitely be racing hard to get in the Dash 4 Cash spots and win all that money but, right now, the points are more important.”
You’ve been highly involved in education and bringing more focus to younger fans this year. What is the importance of encouraging younger fans to get an education and learn about racing?
“It’s awesome to teach kids about the science behind racing because it can directly relate to what they learn in school. Learning the science side of racing can make it more interesting, too. Kids are the future of this sport, so it’s important to teach them more about racing.”
So far this season your finishes at Daytona, Phoenix, Fontana and Bristol have not been indicative of how well you’ve run. How confident are you knowing that your Haas Automation crew can put together such a fast Ford Mustang week after week?
“I’m bringing a lot of confidence to Richmond because our team has built such fast Ford Mustangs each week. I feel like we’re really getting our short-track package together. I’m confident our Haas Automation team will be strong again this week.”
Jeff Meendering, Crew Chief Q&A
What are your thoughts on racing at Richmond?
“I’m excited to go to Richmond. Cole had a good run there last year in the XFINITY race and I’ve been on several different teams that have had good runs at that track. Richmond takes a similar setup to Phoenix, where we were in line to have a good finish until we were involved in an accident toward the end of the race.”
Knowing that the Haas Automation crew has put together a strong car every week but has been involved in unfavorable circumstances, what will it take to get a solid finish at Richmond?
“I don’t think we need to change anything we’re doing. If we keep unloading fast cars off the truck every week, we will start getting the finishes this team and Cole deserve.”
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