Stewart-Haas Racing’s Cole Custer is about to take on the dirt version of Bristol Motor Speedway for the second time in his NASCAR Cup Series career. He will showcase a new partner in Jacob Construction while striving to crack the top 20.
SHR unveiled the new look on April 12. Custer’s No. 41 Ford Mustang will feature a blue and gray scheme with Jacob Construction graphics on the hood and HaasTooling.com logos on the sides. This return to the Bristol Motor Speedway dirt track will mark the first time that Custer has worked with Jacob Construction as his primary partner.
There will be a major change for the 2022 dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway. This year’s iteration will take place at night under the lights instead of in the middle of the day, which will have a significant effect on the drivers and how they navigate the short track.
“I think it’ll definitely make the racing better, make visibility better,” Custer said in a press release from SHR. “Last year, you couldn’t even see a foot in front of you, at times, just because of all the dust and the sun and the glare and everything. So, from a driver’s standpoint, it’ll definitely help a lot and it’ll also hopefully help the racing by keeping more moisture in the track.”
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Custer Put in Extra Work Ahead of Easter Weekend
There are numerous drivers that have experience on dirt tracks. Kyle Larson, Christopher Bell, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Chase Briscoe are all examples. Custer has some experience as well, but he still had to put in some extra work to prepare for his return to Bristol Motor Speedway.
“I went out and tested a Dirt Late Model, and obviously it’s not going to be extremely similar,” Custer added. “But just getting in the dirt and getting a feel for it again and kind of seeing how the track changes and everything, it’s good to get your feet wet again and get a jumpstart for the weekend.”
Preparation will play a role in whether Custer has success, but he explained that there are some other factors in play. Turning in a strong performance during the heat races is very important, as is avoiding the inevitable incidents that will send some drivers to the garage early.
Custer Needs To Rebound After Martinsville Penalty
The trip to Bristol Motor Speedway will be critical for the driver of the No. 41. He is in need of a strong performance after a penalty disrupted his strongest run of the year at Martinsville Speedway.
Custer put himself into contention early during the Blue-Emu Maximum Pain Relief 400 on April 9. He ran in the top five during the first 180 laps and secured some important points. He finished third in Stage 1 and fifth in Stage 2 while creating conversations about how he could contend for the win during the final run to the checkered flag.
The situation changed on Lap 185. NASCAR officials issued a penalty for an uncontrolled tire to the No. 41 team after stage break pit stops. This penalty dropped Custer out of the top five and back toward the middle of the pack.
Instead of contending for the win, Custer had to spend the remainder of the race trying to gain position. He ultimately ended the trip to Martinsville Speedway 21st overall and left Virginia with only 30 points. Custer is now 24th in the championship standings with 18 races remaining in the regular season.