Rookie Cole Custer will honor the memory and career of Sam Ard with a special paint scheme in the Sept. 2 Xfinity Series race at Darlington Raceway.
Custer and Stewart-Haas Racing revealed the paint scheme Wednesday at Darlington.
A two-time Xfinity Series champion in 1983 and 1984, Ard passed away on April 2 at the age of 84. Custer, 19, drives the No. 00 Ford for Stewart-Haas Racing. Ard drove the No. 00 in all 92 of his Xfinity Series starts.
In those 92 starts in what was then the NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series, Ard won 22 races and earned 67 top-fives, 79 top 10s and 24 poles.
Custer’s car will have the colors and lettering of Ard’s No. 00 Oldsmobile Omega that now sits on “Glory Road” in the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
Ard’s name will also be on the roof of the car.
“The 00 number has been a part of my entire NASCAR career, and over the years I’ve gotten to know its history and met some of the people who worked with Sam and saw him race,” Custer said in a press release. “The more I learn about Sam and all that he accomplished, the more impressive it becomes. I feel like I’m driving his car, and I want to make him and his family proud. Guys like Sam Ard helped shape the sport into what it is today. Without him, I don’t know if the opportunity to drive racecars for a living would exist. I’m grateful for it and I’d like him and his family to know it.”
A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Ard was was born in Pamplico, South Carolina, roughly 45 minutes southeast of Darlington. Ard worked on aircraft at Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina, during the Vietnam War.
Ard made four starts at Darlington and never finished worse than sixth.
Casey Mears‘ qualifying run in the first round was disallowed by NASCAR for impeding the progress of Matt Tifft during his qualifying run. Mears and the No. 98 Ford will start 40th. Tifft and the No. 19 Toyota will start 31st.
“Just a huge mistake on my part, I haven’t done single-car qualifying here in a long time,” Mears told Fox Sports 1. “Typically what you need to do is go down and run along the access road. I was in the middle of Turn 2 and I looked in my mirror and I went ‘I didn’t get down.’ I was the radio talking to (Crew Chief) Jon (Hanson) telling him what the car was doing. Shoot, I can’t remember the last time I did that. I hate it for the 19 guys. I was hoping they were on there up to speed lap, but it was their money lap.”
Casey Mears #XFINITYSeries qualifying time has been disallowed for impeding Matt Tifft.
Kyle Benjamin was the fastest in Friday afternoon’s second and final Xfinity Series practice, with a speed of 170.707 mph.
Benjamin not only was the only driver to exceed 170 mph, he also was faster than the fastest driver in the day’s first practice, Brad Keselowski, who turned a best lap earlier in the day of 169.14 mph.