Cole Custer Shares Stewart-Haas Racing’s Key to Early-Season Success

Cole Custer

Getty Cole Custer waves to fans at Daytona International Speedway.

Cole Custer and Riley Herbst are only one race into the NASCAR Xfinity Series season, but they are off to a quick start. Now the driver of the No. 00 has pointed out a reason for the early success.

Custer met with media members mere days after he and Herbst both posted top-10 finishes at Daytona International Speedway. He provided insight into their relationship and explained how communication has been an important factor early in the 2023 season.

“It went really good, honestly,” Custer said about the opening Xfinity Series race. “This year, working with Riley has been a lot of fun so far. I think we’ve worked really well together and communicated very well. We honestly have a pretty good atmosphere as a team right now, where we work as one group.

“We communicate a lot. We’re able to really bounce ideas off each other and it’s one of the best environments I’ve seen with that. We’re able to work together a lot, so we just have to keep digging throughout the year.

The Fontana Race Provides a Measuring Stick

Cole Custer

GettyCole Custer prepares for qualifying at Daytona International Speedway.

The opener at Daytona International Speedway was a solid start for the two-car lineup. Two top-10 finishes were a highlight for Stewart-Haas Racing, and now the season will continue at Auto Club Speedway.

While the race at Daytona was all about crash avoidance, drafting, and a little bit of luck, the next event on the schedule is all about speed, the best setup, and driver talent. A team that is good on superspeedways may not be as competitive at the two-mile California track.

For Custer and Herbst, this means that they now have a measuring stick. They can see how they stack up against the other playoff hopefuls, and they can try to stack some playoff points early in the season. They can also see where they need to make improvements if the No. 00 and the No. 98 Fords are not in contention for the win.

“This is really the first race of the year you’re able to really see what everybody’s got for the season,” Custer continued. “It’s a big racetrack, where aerodynamics and handling and pretty much everything comes into play, so you find out a lot coming into this weekend. We’ve just got to adapt fast and work as a team to make everything better and see what we have when we unload.”

The 2023 Season Marks a Change for Herbst & Custer

Riley Herbst

GettyRiley Herbst prepares for qualifying at Daytona International Speedway.

The past two seasons have featured Herbst as the only Xfinity Series driver at Stewart-Haas Racing. He has been out on an island while contending for playoff points, but he now has a teammate in Custer.

This partnership will be key considering that Herbst has been within reach of Victory Lane multiple times. Custer, for comparison, has 10 career wins in the series. The hope in the building is that the two drivers will be able to work together while putting both SHR cars in the playoffs.

They were not able to win at Daytona International Speedway, but the two drivers were able to both turn in strong performances. Now, they will keep communicating as they continue to pursue wins.

“There are a lot of expectations this year,” Custer said. “We want to go out there and run good and compete for wins every single race. We thought about everything that would go on at Daytona, making sure we had everything checked and everything going right. It was nice to hit the track and have a solid weekend and not have anything go wrong, and have good speed in the car.

“Obviously, Daytona you have to have a little bit of luck on your side and sometimes you don’t get the finish that you want, but I feel like we had a solid weekend and now we’ve just got to keep that going into Fontana.

“I think we’ve got a good group that really wants to work together and really wants to just communicate extremely well. If we can do that and make sure we get everything checked and cross all the t’s and dot all the i’s before the weekends, I think we’ll have many shots to win races.”

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