Even at just 25-years old, Stewart-Haas Racing driver Cole Custer is used to the NASCAR championship weekend vibes and expectations.
A two-time NASCAR Xfinity Series championship runner-up – in 2018 and 2019 – Custer brings a strong title resume into Saturday afternoon’s finale. And he earned this opportunity the hard way – on fire, rolling backwards across the finish line last week in a wild Round of 8 finale at Martinsville that was good enough to secure a title bid.
“I think if we can make it through that (Martinsville finish) as a team, we can do anything,” Custer allowed with a smile.
And as much as he likes his chances on Saturday, the two-race winner this season concedes he expects stout competition amongst himself and the other championship contenders, John Hunter Nemechek, Sam Mayer and Justin Allgaier.
Custer has finished sixth or better in four of the six races leading into Saturday’s championship contest. Twice – at Bristol and Homestead-Miami – he’s led at least 100 laps in the No. 00 SHR Ford and did not win. His 20 top-10 finishes mark the third time he’s earned at least 20 top 10s in a season. And only one other driver (Nemechek) has bettered Custer’s season-to-date 490 total laps led.
“It’s been an extremely proud year for me, just because I think we built things,” Custer said of his team. “We started the year off and weren’t exactly where we wanted to be, but we were a young team with a lot of young guys and were able to really build it through the year and communicate well and through that turned ourselves into a championship team.
“I think it just comes with experience, knowing what to expect (in the title race), knowing not to get too riled up through the weekend. You’re going to be up at times, and you’re going to be down at times, but knowing that you’ve just got to put it together for that last run. I’m confident we’re going to have a fast car and should be able to compete for a win there.
“At the end of the day, it’s a pretty equal playing field,” Custer added. “We’ve all been fast through the year, and all been fast in the Playoffs it just a matter of how that last run plays out.
“It seems like it’s always the top four racing each other there at the end, and I’m planning on winning it.”
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