NASCAR’s Next Generation: Cole Custer


It took seven races in 2014 for Cole Custer to make headlines in NASCAR when he become the youngest driver to win a NASCAR national touring series race, winning a Camping World Truck Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway at the age of 16 years, seven months and 28 days old.

Custer, in his second year as a NASCAR Next class member, is a few weeks removed from his second win at Gateway Motorsports Park while driving a truck with a broken air conditioner. When NASCAR Talk spoke with the part-time driver for JR Motorsports, he was preparing for today’s K&N Pro Series West race at Sonoma Raceway (airs July 1 on NBCSN).

This Q&A has been edited and condensed.

NASCAR Talk: What does it mean to you to be selected to the NASCAR Next class for a second time?

Cole Custer: It’s just a huge honor, because of all great drivers who have come through the program like Chase Elliott and Kyle Larson and all those guys are racing in the Cup Series right now. Whenever you’re in that kind of a program, you’re honoring something we want to do as drivers.

NT: I saw on your website the first time you ever raced was in a quarter midget that was behind Randy LaJoie’s shop. What do you remember about that and how well do you know Randy LaJoie?

Custer: I can’t remember a ton from that experience because I was so young, I was only like 4 years old. I remember I really liked it when I first started and wanted to keep doing it. Randy was gracious enough to let us use a little track behind his shop. We’ve always been great friends with Randy and I’ve always used his seats. I still use his seats in the Truck series and everything. He’s just a great guy and a guy you’d like to know.

NT: What’s your best Randy LaJoie story?

Custer: I honestly don’t know, there’s so many stories you could probably tell about Randy LaJoie. He’s just a really fun and outgoing guy to be around. Everybody likes him in racing, so it’s an honor to be friends with him.

NTYou started racing for JR Motorsports this year. What do you remember about the first time you met Dale Earnhardt Jr.?

Custer: I was really kind of star struck. (I thought) ‘Dale Earnhardt Jr. is now standing in front of you and you’re going to drive for him next year.’ It was really a cool experience and something you’ll (remember) for a lifetime.

NT: If you could put the name of someone on your car who has been an important part of getting you to where you are now, who would it be and why?

Custer: Probably my dad (Joe Custer). He got me into it and helped me with a lot of my career so I would definitely say my dad.

(Editor’s note: Joe Custer is the executive vice president of Stewart-Haas Racing)

NT: There’s a picture of you on your website from when you were little in a blue go kart and there’s a Haas sticker on it. How far back does that relationship go?

Custer: I’ve always had a connection with Haas. I’m really thankful to be honest for what he’s done for my career. Without him, I wouldn’t be here right now. I owe a lot to me and I’m trying to do my best every weekend.

NT: What do you consider your theme song?

Custer: Probably, right now, my favorite song is “Say it ain’t So” by Weezer, but I honestly don’t know.

NT: What do you like about Weezer and that song?

Custer: I like the music, just how the guitar is and how all instruments come together. I like how they are. I don’t know a ton about music (laughs).

NT: Last week you had your high school finals. What’s your favorite subject in school?

Custer: Probably history.

NT: What’s your favorite era in history?

Custer: Probably the Revolution or Civil War period, that’s probably what I like the most. I like American history the most.

NT: Do you have any plans to attend college?

Custer: I’m not really sure right now if I’ll do college. It’s kind of up in the air.

NT: If you do go to college, would you choose history as your major?

Custer: I don’t know, you kind of want an engineering degree if you want to work in racing. That would be one of the front runners for a major, but history is another one I would like to learn about.

Previous NASCAR Next Q&A’s:

Today’s Las Vegas Cup race: Start time, lineup and more

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One down and only 35 to go.

With the Daytona 500 now in the record books, the NASCAR Cup Series moves on to its second race of the season – and the start of the three-race western swing.

Can Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin make it back-to-back wins to start the 2020 season?

How about defending Cup Series champ Kyle Busch, looking for his second career Cup win in his hometown? What about older brother Kurt Busch, still searching for his first career hometown Cup triumph?

Here is all the info for today’s race:

(All times are Eastern)

START: The 1980 U.S. Men’s Olympic “Miracle” hockey team will give the command to start engines at 3:37 p.m. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:46 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage opens at 11:30 a.m. Driver/crew chief meeting is at 1:30 p.m. Driver introductions are at 3 p.m. The invocation will be given by Motor Racing Outreach chaplain Billy Mauldin at 3:30 p.m. The National Anthem will be performed by Carnell Johnson at 3:31 p.m., followed by a flyover by four F-16 “Vipers” from the 57th Wing Adversary Tactics Group from Nellis Air Force Base at 3:32 p.m.

DISTANCE: The race is 267 laps (400.5 miles) around the 1.5-mile speedway.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 80. Stage 2 ends on Lap 160.

TV/RADIO: Fox will broadcast the race with coverage beginning at 3:30 p.m. Performance Racing Network’s broadcast begins at 2:30 p.m. and can also be heard at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry PRN’s broadcast.

FORECAST: The forecast calls for sunny skies with a high of 68 degrees and a 0% chance of rain at the start of the race.

LAST TIME: Joey Logano won this race last year, followed by teammate Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch. Martin Truex Jr. won last September’s playoff race, followed by Kevin Harvick and Keselowski.

TO THE REAR: Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Christopher Bell will start from the rear after L1 level infractions in qualifying inspection. Garrett Smithley will also start from the rear due to three inspections failures.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for the starting lineup.

Follow @JerryBonkowski

Rain postpones Las Vegas Xfinity race to 7:30 p.m. ET Sunday

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Rain has forced the conclusion of today’s Xfinity Series race in Las Vegas to be postponed until Sunday after the Cup Series race at approximately 7:30 p.m. ET. The race will resume on FS2.

The race had been red flagged since late Saturday afternoon, with the race paused on Lap 51 of 200, only six laps after Chase Briscoe won Stage 1.

The top 10 is currently scored as:

  1. Joe Graf Jr. (stayed out of pits)
  2. Chase Briscoe
  3. Austin Cindric
  4. Ross Chastain
  5. Brandon Jones
  6. Justin Allgaier
  7. Michael Annett
  8. Justin Haley
  9. Harrison Burton
  10. Brett Moffitt

Kevin Harvick, Gander RV CEO put up $100K bounty to beat Kyle Busch in trucks

Kyle Busch
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Kevin Harvick and Gander RV & Outdoors CEO Marcus Lemonis issued a bounty poster in tweet form Saturday.

WANTED: A full-time Cup Series driver to beat Kyle Busch in any of his remaining four Truck Series starts this year (without wrecking him).

REWARD: $50,000 each from Harvick and Lemonis.

The bounty comes the night after Busch won his seventh consecutive Truck Series race, which includes all five starts he made in 2019.

Saturday’s race was his first of five in the trucks this season. He’ll be back in the series March 14 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, March 20 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, March 27 at Texas Motor Speedway and May 30 at Kansas Speedway.

Busch won at Atlanta and Texas last year.

Busch himself didn’t seem too impressed with the bounty when told about it in the media center.

So what is in it for Busch?

If no full-time Cup driver is able to beat Busch in those four races, the bounty will be given to the Bundle of Joy Fund, the organization founded by Kyle and Samantha Busch that helps couples who require fertility treatments to conceive.

Lemonis wasn’t done there. Later Saturday night, he put another proposition out into the Twitterverse. If Fox Sports moved any of the races to prime time, he’d increase the purse among the top-five finishers to $250,000.

Needless to say, the original bounty got the attention of a few drivers, including Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Denny Hamlin.

Disclaimer on the following tweet by Hamlin: As noted above, none of Busch’s remaining four truck races are at Richmond Raceway. But…..Richmond is the site of the first Triple Truck Challenge race on April 18.

Richmond’s track president, Dennis Bickmeier chimed in with his thoughts.

Las Vegas Xfinity race under red flag for rain on Lap 51

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Today’s Xfinity Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is under its second rain delay and its first since the start of race.

The race was paused by a red flag on Lap 51, shortly after the end of Stage 1.

The race is official after the end of Stage 2 on Lap 90.

Joe Graf Jr is listed as the leader after he stayed out during pit stops.

The top five is completed by Stage 1 winner Chase Briscoe, Austin Cindric, Ross Chastain and Brandon Jones.

The green flag for the race was originally scheduled for 4:16 p.m. ET. The finally waved at 5:48 p.m. ET.

The rain forced the cancellation of qualifying for Cup and Xfinity. The field was set by last year’s owner’s points.

If the race resumes tonight, coverage will be on FS2.

Check back for more.