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.

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Daytona road course trophy: Handle with care

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A word of warning for the Cup Series driver who wins Sunday’s inaugural race on the Daytona road course (3 p.m. ET on NBC).

When you’re celebrating the victory, don’t get too excited with the trophy.

It could wind up all over Victory Lane.

That’s because the trophy waiting at the end of the 65-lap/234.65-mile-race is made out of glass.

More: Will chaos (and rain) reign on the Daytona road course?


The 18” tall/4.5” wide trophy for the Daytona road course race was produced by the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York. It’s the same institution that’s been responsible for designing the Watkins Glen International trophy since 2012.

Sunday’s race is being held in the place of the Cup Series’ annual visit to Watkins Glen.

Incorporating a blown glass cup, the trophy is inspired by the history of NASCAR and racing at Daytona.

“Thinking about the history of the track and long-held traditions, I was reminded that historically, trophies used to be cups and have evolved into sculptural forms,” said Eric Meek, Sr. Manager of Hot Glass Programs at The Corning Museum of Glass, said in a media release. “We took this trophy back to a more traditional shape. Daytona is the most historical track, and in thinking about a trophy design for a race held in this storied location, I was transported back to the golden age of speed. I wanted to design something that felt like a bit of a throwback – like it belonged in the era of streamline racers and the quest to go faster.”

NASCAR Pinty’s Series 2020 TV schedule released

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The NASCAR Pinty’s Series, which competes in Canada, will get its season under way this weekend after it was postponed back in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The shortened season will consist of three doubleheaders with twin 125-mile races.

The races will be held at Sunset Speedway (Aug. 15), Flamboro Speedway (Aug. 29) and Jukasa Speedway (Sept. 12).

More: Xfinity Series start time for Daytona road course

No NASCAR Pinty’s Series champion or Rookie of the Year will be crowned in 2020 due to the shortened schedule. There will be special recognition for the overall winner of the shortened season.

All races will air delayed on TSN and RDS in Canada and MAVTV in the United States. Fans in the United States can stream races after they air on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

Here is the full schedule with TV information.


Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona road course: Start time, forecast and more

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Saturday’s Xfinity race at Daytona will mark the first time the series has competed in the track’s road course circuit.

Austin Cindric, who has won four of the last five races, is on the pole. He is joined on the front row by fellow Ford driver Chase Briscoe.

Here are the details for the Xfinity race at the Daytona road course (all times ET):

START: The command to start engines will be given at 3:07 p.m by Dr. Jeff Jarvis, president of UNOH. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 3:19 p.m.

PRERACE: Garage access health screening begins at 8:30 a.m. Drivers report to their cars at 2:50 p.m. The invocation will be given at 3 p.m. by Chaplain Farzad Nourian. The national anthem will be performed at 3:01 p.m. by Temecula Road.

DISTANCE: The race is 52 laps (187.72 miles) around the 3.61-mile road course

PACE LAP: At the direction of race control, the entire field will go down pit road during a pace lap for pit road speed verification. If a driver stops in the pit box for any reason, pulls over or slows down, they will start at the rear of the field.

STAGES: Stage 1 ends on Lap 15. Stage 2 ends on Lap 30.

TV/RADIO: NBCSN will televise the race. Its coverage begins at 2:30 p.m. with Countdown to Green followed by the race broadcast at 3 p.m. ET. Motor Racing Network’s radio broadcast will begin at 2:30 p.m. and also can be heard at SiriusXM NASCAR Radio will carry MRN’s broadcast.

STREAMING: Watch the race on the NBC Sports App by clicking here.

FORECAST: The forecast calls for cloudy skies, a high of 88 degrees and a 70% chance of rain and thunderstorms at the start of the race.

LAST RACE: Austin Cindric beat AJ Allmendinger and Chase Briscoe to win at Road America.

STARTING LINEUP: Click here for Xfinity starting lineup

Justin Marks planning to start new Cup team

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Former NASCAR driver Justin Marks is in the process of starting a new Cup Series team and competing as early as 2021, Marks detailed to the Sports Business Journal.

Marks, who has 80 NASCAR starts and last competed in 2018, is building a team called Trackhouse that would have a “cause-marketing focus around promoting STEM education” according to SBJ.

More: Bubba Wallace lands multi-year deal with DoorDash

Marks, who once was a co-owner of an ARCA Menards West team with the late Harry Scott, said a goal of the team is to “serve America’s minorities and underrepresented youth population”

Marks told SBJ he is in negotiations to acquire a charter for the team, that his family foundation will use investment capital to fund 50% of the team’s budget and that a “nationwide family entertainment business” will be a sponsor.

One of Marks’ partners will be Ty Norris, a former executive at Michael Waltrip Racing.

Click here for more from Sports Business Journal.