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ASHLEY ASKS…… Cole Custer

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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?

RUSSELL LABOUNTY | NKP

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.

BARRY CANTRELL | NKP

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.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.