Ford Performance NASCAR: Cole Custer Rookie of the Year Zoom Transcript

Ford Performance Notes and Quotes

NASCAR Cup Series (NCS)

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


American Muscle

Cole Custer, driver of the No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang, is this year’s Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the NASCAR Cup Series after his win at Kentucky Speedway clinched a spot in the Playoffs. Custer was part of a Q&A session today to discuss his season and officially winning the yearly award.

COLE CUSTER, No. 41 HaasTooling.com Ford Mustang – CAN YOU EVALUATE YOUR SEASON? “Definitely a lot of ups and downs. I think with any rookie year it’s like that, but this year was probably to the extreme by not having practice, not having testing, not having qualifying. It definitely wasn’t an easy year to be a rookie, but I think we all made the best out of it and I think we all made a lot of progression throughout the year. I think from our standpoint to have a race win, to make the playoffs, I think we can call it a success. Did we want to run better a lot of the time? Yeah, for sure, but I think we definitely made some huge strides in making more consistent runs and I think it’s just a matter of taking it to the next level to be consistently in the next group of cars.”

WHAT DID YOU THINK WOULD BE THE MOST CHALLENGING THING GOING INTO THE SEASON AND THEN WHAT ENDED UP BEING THE MOST CHALLENGING PART? “I think one of the biggest things is just how much different the cars are. From the Xfinity cars to the Cup cars there are a lot of differences, especially when you go to the 550 package it’s all different. So to be able to do all that even before everything with Covid happened, this was the first year I think ever that rookies haven’t had any testing. There was a lot of unknowns even going into the year before Covid of how we were gonna adapt to that and how we were gonna go about that the best way, so it was just a lot of stress I guess adapting to something so new and obviously you’re going up against a lot of guys that have been doing it for a career for a very long time.”

WERE YOU HAPPY THE NEXT GEN WAS PUSHED TO 2022? “Yeah, I think so, especially just from the standpoint of everything with Covid happening, not having the time to really develop as much as we want to and go through different changes with the cars and for me to learn more I think it’s gonna be huge. It’s just without that practice or testing there are a lot of things you want to run through that you’re not able to do, so having more time and another year to kind of run through things in races will definitely help out.”

HOW DO YOU BALANCE OUT THE PRESEASON EXPECTATIONS AND HOW THEY CHANGE AS THE YEAR GOES ON? “Like you said, that’s just part of being a competitor. You supposed to always want more, so even though we won a race and had some good things happen, we won rookie of the year, we want more. We want to run better. That’s just part of being a competitor in my opinion, but at the same time you have to kind of look back through the year and say like where we started look at it and then look at the very end to how far you came and how much more you know now. There’s a lot that you can look back on and say that we did really good, so it’s just a matter of taking your little wins and make sure that you’re still working in the right direction to get better. I know that we have a lot of things that we can get better. I wish the season started honestly next week so we’d get back going again because there were a lot of things that I think we could get better the second year.”

DO YOU EVER WATCH THE END OF THE KENTUCKY RACE YOU WON? “I haven’t watched it in a little while – ever since close to the race – so I probably should because I need to be able to do that again. You get so wrapped up in what you’re doing at the moment. You’re trying to figure out what you can do better next week and work on the next-best thing, so I think there are times when you have to look back on those things and see what you’ve done, but 90 percent of the time you’re trying to look at the next thing and trying to do better.”

ARE YOU DISAPPOINTED THE BANQUET HAS BEEN CANCELLED IN NASHVILLE AND HOW MUCH ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO RACING AT THE SUPERSPEEDWAY IN JUNE? “It is kind of disappointing that we don’t get to do the banquet in person. That’s something that’s a real privilege to go to and to win an award like rookie of the year definitely means a lot, especially with the competition we had this year for it. I mean, we had a really good rookie class this year and I think we all adapted very well, but I think it definitely is a little bit of a letdown that we have to not do it in person, but at the same time I’ll take it. It’s an award and I’m really gonna appreciate it. I’m looking forward to it. And like you said with Nashville Superspeedway coming back I think it’s awesome to come back to Nashville. I think that’s gonna be a really cool city to go to for what our sport is and that down. It’s such a cool town and also the track. I mean, I’ve only run there testing like five or six years ago in a truck, but I think it’ll be an interesting race to see who can figure it out first.”

HAVE YOU EVER RACED AT THE FAIRGROUNDS BEFORE? “I haven’t. I’ve never raced at the fairgrounds before.”

HOW IMPORTANT WAS IT HAVING THREE VETERAN TEAMMATES TO BOUNCE IDEAS OFF OF DURING THE SEASON? “It definitely helped out a ton. I pretty much talk to Kevin about three quarters of the weekends of the year, so he was a huge help throughout the whole year and I can’t thank him enough. And also being able to talk with Clint and Aric, everybody was a huge help, so to be able to have those resources around you to kind of bounce ideas off of and see what they’re thinking going into weekends and stuff like that is invaluable. At the same time, you do have to figure out your own way a little bit. Things that work for other guys isn’t gonna work for you, so you’ve got to use your resources and talk to people and ask questions and also figure out your own path of what’s gonna work for you.”

WHAT ARE YOU OFF-SEASON PLANS? “I don’t know yet. It’s Covid. Anything is possible. It’s 2020, so it’s kind of just playing it day by day and kind of enjoying the off time for now – these first few weeks. The thing is by the first month or so you’re pretty much ready to get back in the car, so you go over a lot of notes and pretty much every single race during the year and try and figure out what I could have done better. You just try and go through it with a fine-tooth comb, and I think if we do that, we have some really good ideas going into next year. I think if we can put everything together, I think we can have a really good shot at it.”

SHR WILL LOOK DIFFERENT NEXT YEAR. WHAT DOES THIS MEAN FOR CHASE BRISCOE TO BE ABLE TO ADAPT AND WHAT HAVE YOU SEEN FROM HIM SO FAR? “I’m really excited. Chase and I have a really good relationship. We’ve been teammates before at the Xfinity level and he’s also a pretty good friend off the racetrack, so we get along pretty well and I think we can bounce ideas off each other pretty well. I’m really excited about it. I think he’ll do really well. And also I think even with our cars being able to have a full second year under our belts with this package it’s definitely helped a lot, so hopefully we can try and dial things in for him pretty fast.”

HOW READY ARE YOU FOR SIX ROAD COURSES ON THE 2021 SCHEDULE? “I’m looking forward to it. I think every driver is honestly. Whenever we go to road courses it’s something that puts it more in the driver’s hands, so I think everybody is looking forward to that and all the fans I think are excited too because we put on some of the best racing at road courses.”


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