ASHLEY ASKS…… Cole Custer
After coming up just one spot shy of winning the NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship, Cole Custer will be back full-time in 2019 with Stewart-Haas Racing to try once again. The driver of the No. 00 Mustang recently shared his thoughts with POPULAR SPEED entering his third season of competition.
POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts on the season ahead?
COLE CUSTER: I’m looking forward to it. I think we have a really strong team. We obviously showed last year that we compete for championships, and I think it’s just a matter of me learning a little more as a driver and growing what we had last year. I think we have fast cars, and a great team, so there’s no reason we can’t go win races.
PS: What’s the biggest thing that you’re able to take away from last year that you will feel will help you in 2019?
CUSTER: For me, it was just the racing part of it. I feel like the first year, my rookie season, I learned how to go fast. Then last year, I learned how to race with the guys in the top-five and compete for wins. Now it’s just about closing the deal and winning more races.
PS: You obviously had a really strong year – but what do you feel that you and SHR need to do to be even stronger?
CUSTER: I feel like we became a well-rounded team last year, but I feel we still have room to grow there. I think superspeedways and some of the short tracks we struggle a little bit, so there’s room to grow there. I think it’s just a matter of being consistent at every track in the top-five and competing for the wins.
PS: It was announced that you will have Chase Briscoe as a teammate full-time. What is that going to be like for you?
CUSTER: It’ll be good. I think me and Chase work good together, we’re great friends, and he’s a great driver with a lot of natural talent. So I think being able to bounce ideas off of him driving-wise and being able to bounce set-up ideas off of each other with help a ton because the more information you have, the better.
PS: What track are you most looking forward to?
CUSTER: First, I think I’m really looking forward to Fontana (Auto Club Speedway). There’s so many grooves, well wore out, and it’s really fun to drive.
PS: What track do you wish was on the schedule that currently isn’t?
CUSTER: That’s a tough question. I’ve never raced there, but I was always a huge fan of ORP (O’Reilly Raceway Park) when the Busch (now XFINITY) and the trucks used to run there, so I’d like to go run there. I also think Road Atlanta is a good road course that we should go to.
I don’t know. There’s so many different tracks out there and it’s just a matter of selecting which ones to go to. I think the Nashville Fairgrounds would be a cool track to go to. Hopefully we get to go to more tracks in the future.
PS: If you were in charge of NASCAR for one day, what is one change you would make?
CUSTER: I think it comes down to affordability of it, but it’s tough because I’m not in charge of that and I shouldn’t be. I think those people make the decisions that they do and it’s way more above my pay grade. I think everybody looks at the sport and thinks that could be better.
PS: We’ve seen a lot of talk recently about drivers wanting to try different series and cars. Is there anything on your wish list?
CUSTER: I got to go down and run the Continental Tire Challenge event at Daytona – the race before the 24 Hours of Daytona, and honestly, I really want to try and run the 24 Hour race. It’s a really fun, pretty laid back; I think that style of racing is interesting and fun, so it’s something that I would like to do.
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