● Event: Bass Pro Shops Night Race (Round 29 of 36)
● Time/Date: 7:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Sept. 18
● Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
● Layout: .533-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 500 laps/266.5 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stage 1: 125 laps / Stage 2: 125 laps / Final Stage: 250 laps
● TV/Radio: NBCSN / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● Cole Custer and the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) return to pavement racing on the half-mile, high-banked, concrete oval at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, where they and their fellow NASCAR Cup Series competitors made history in March by competing in the first Cup Series dirt race in more than 50 years. This weekend’s Bass Pro Shops Night Race is typically one of the most highly anticipated stops on the Cup Series tour.
● Back with Custer and the No. 41 SHR Ford team for the season’s fourth of six appearances as primary partner is Autodesk Fusion 360, which kicked off its fourth season with the 23-year-old driver and SHR in June on the Sonoma (Calif.) Raceway road course and made its third appearance three weekends ago on the 2.5-mile oval at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The Sonoma weekend was a hometown race for San Francisco-based Autodesk, Inc. (NASDAQ: ADSK), a leader in software applications for the engineering, manufacturing, construction, architecture, media and entertainment industries.
● Saturday night’s 500-lap race on the half-mile Bristol oval will be Custer’s 68th Cup Series start and his third on the high-banked, .533-mile concrete oval. The reigning Cup Series Rookie of the Year’s 23rd-place finish in last year’s Bristol night race was the best of his first two Cup Series visits to Thunder Valley. In last year’s non-points NASCAR All-Star Race held for the first time at Bristol, Custer started eighth and finished 16th. He qualified for that event with his maiden Cup Series victory just three days prior at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. In this year’s inaugural Food City Dirt Race on the Bristol oval, Custer posted a 24th-place finish.
● In six career NASCAR Xfinity Series appearances at Bristol from 2017 through 2019, all in SHR Fords, Custer has a best finish of third from his pole starting position in the spring 2019 race. That came on the heels of his fourth-place finish in the fall 2018 race, and his pole position in the spring 2018 race that resulted in an eighth-place finish. He led 31 laps in those six Xfinity Series starts at Bristol.
● Custer made annual spring-race stops at Bristol for the 2014 through 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series events. He had a best finish of sixth in his most recent visit in 2016, driving the No. 00 JR Motorsports entry. The previous year, in the JR Motorsports entry, he led 111 of the first 159 laps of the race from the fifth starting position before getting caught up in an accident that relegated him to a 16th-place finish.
● The first taste of the Bristol oval for Custer came in the 2013 and 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East events. He finished 24th for owner Ken Schrader in 2013 and 14th for owner Bill McAnally the following year.
● After last Saturday night’s 22nd-place finish on the .75-mile Richmond (Va.) Raceway oval, Custer arrives at Richmond 28th in the driver standings.
● Joining Autodesk on the No. 41 Ford Mustang is team co-owner Gene Haas’ newest holding, Haas Tooling, which was launched as a way for CNC machinists to purchase high-quality cutting tools at great prices. Haas cutting tools are sold exclusively online at HaasTooling.com and shipped directly to end users. HaasTooling.com products became available nationally last July, and the cutting tools available for purchase at HaasTooling.com have proven to be even more important during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as CNC machines have become vital to producing personal protective equipment. Haas Automation, founded by Haas in 1983, is America’s leading builder of CNC machine tools. The company manufactures a complete line of vertical and horizontal machining centers, turning centers and rotary tables and indexers. All Haas products are constructed in the company’s 1.1-million-square-foot manufacturing facility in Oxnard, California, and distributed through a worldwide network of Haas Factory Outlets.
● September is Hunger Action Month, and SHR, its partner Wow Wow Classic Waffles, and Feeding America®, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs, are asking fans to think about their answer to a simple question: How will you choose to end hunger? Hunger Action Month is an annual campaign dedicated to driving awareness and inspiring action to help end hunger in America, both on a national scale and on the ground in local communities. It’s a time when the Feeding America network of food banks and the public come together to raise awareness and inspire action to help people facing impossible choices due to hunger. Fans are encouraged to visit the Hunger Action Month page via the Feeding America website to learn how they can take action through sharing, volunteering, pledging to advocate, fundraising and making a donation. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America on behalf of local member food banks. Custer and the No. 41 SHR Ford team have accumulated nearly 100 volunteer hours to date, working with Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina in packing bags and helping with drop-off events at Charlotte-area schools.
● Fans can do their part by texting HUNGER to 50555 to make a $5 donation to Feeding America, by visiting the Feeding America donation page on Facebook, or the donation page via the Feeding America website. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
What are your thoughts as you and the team head to Bristol for the annual night race?
“I think it’s great. Bristol’s an exciting racetrack where a lot of stuff can happen fast. When you put 40 guys out there who are trying to fight hard for every single spot, it can create some great racing and it always does. It’s definitely one of the greatest shows we put on for the fans.”
You excelled at Bristol when you were in the Xfinity Series. Why do you think that was the case, or what about the track suits your driving style?
“Bristol was a good track for me in the Xfinity Series, for sure. It’s a track that has always come a little natural to me, I feel like. I like the feel of it and being able to move around in the lanes. It’s a lot about keeping momentum. The bottom is about hooking the line. Hopefully we’ll be able to make those things happen in our Cup car with the 750 (horsepower) package, managing our race from beginning to end and getting through traffic without getting caught up in someone else’s mess. It can get pretty chaotic.”
Do you prefer the 750-horsepower package at Bristol?
“I think the 750-horsepower package is definitely something that’s more natural to me because it’s similar to what we had in the Xfinity car. A lot of the stuff I did in the Xfinity car transfered over to this 750 package in the Cup Series. It doesn’t do that with the 550-horsepower package we run at a lot of tracks. So I’d say I’m more comfortable and used to the 750.”
No. 41 Autodesk Fusion 360/HaasTooling.com Team Roster
Primary Team Members
Driver: Cole Custer
Hometown: Ladera Ranch, California
Crew Chief: Mike Shiplett
Hometown: Amherst, Ohio
Car Chief: Tony Cardamone
Hometown: Bristol, Virginia
Engineer: Davin Restivo
Hometown: Ashboro, North Carolina
Engineer: Scott Bingham
Hometown: Lawrenceville, Georgia
Spotter: Andy Houston
Hometown: Hickory, North Carolina
Front Tire Changer: John Roselli
Hometown: Terre Haute, Indiana
Rear Tire Changer: Coleman Dollarhide
Hometown: Hickory, North Carolina
Tire Carrier: Chad Emmons
Hometown: Tyler, Texas
Jack Man: Matthew Schlytter
Hometown: Ponte Vedra, Florida
Fuel Man: Corey Coppola
Hometown: Bluefield, West Virginia
Road Crew Members
Mechanic: Joe Zanolini
Hometown: Sybertsville, Pennsylvania
Mechanic: Nick McIntosh
Hometown: Havre, Montana
Shock Specialist: Aaron Kuehn
Hometown: Kensington, Connecticut
Tire Specialist: Thomas Gagliano
Hometown: East Hampton, Connecticut
Engine Specialist: Evan Cupples
Hometown: Hudson, Illinois
Transporter Co-Driver: Eddie DeGroot
Hometown: Baldwinsville, New York
Transporter Co-Driver: David Rodrigues
Hometown: Santa Clarita, California
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!