Cole Custer to make 150th Xfinity career start at Martinsville

Nearly five months after winning the 2023 NASCAR Xfinity Series championship, Cole Custer is within reach of achieving a milestone start. By taking the green flag in this weekend’s event at Martinsville Speedway, the driver of the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford Mustang will make his 150th career start in the Xfinity circuit. 

A native of Ladera Ranch, California, Custer made his inaugural presence in the Xfinity Series at Richmond Raceway in April 2016. By then, he was competing in his first full-time season in the Craftsman Truck Series for JR Motorsports, where he had racked up two victories in the series, and accumulated a total of five victories within the ARCA regional series (ARCA Menards Series, East and West).

Driving the No. 5 Chevrolet Camaro for JR Motorsports, Custer started 17th and rallied from being involved in a late multi-car wreck to notch a sixth-place finish. He would then achieve his first top-five finish in the series in the form of a fourth-place run at Charlotte Motor Speedway in May before making three additional starts in the series at Kentucky Speedway in July, Kansas Speedway in October and Homestead-Miami Speedway, all with JR Motorsports, where he finished no higher than 17th during the three-race span.  

The following season, Custer was promoted to the Xfinity Series on a full-time basis as he piloted the No. 00 Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing. Despite commencing his rookie Xfinity season with a 37th-place finish at Daytona International Speedway in February, the Californian earned four top-five results and 13 top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch as he qualified for the 2017 Xfinity Series Playoffs based on points.

He would then record three consecutive top-eight results throughout the Round of 12, enabling him to transfer into the Round of 8. After finishing 19th and fifth during the Round of 8’s first two events, Custer fell two spots short of transferring into the Championship 4 round after being outdueled by Playoff rival Daniel Hemric on the final lap and settling in seventh place during the Round of 8 finale at Phoenix Raceway in November.

Despite having his championship hopes evaporated for the season, Custer capped off the season in dominant fashion after scoring his first series victory during the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway while leading a race-high 182 laps and beating runner-up Sam Hornish Jr. by more than 15 seconds. The Homestead victory was enough for Custer to settle in fifth place in the final standings. 

Throughout the 2018 Xfinity season, Custer relied on consistency in the form of two runner-up results, 11 top-five results and 21 top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch to make the Playoffs for a second consecutive season on points. By then, he had also racked up his first five career poles. Finishes of 15th, seventh and second throughout the Round of 12 allowed him to transfer into the Round of 8. Custer finished 26th during the Round of 8 opener at Kansas Speedway in October. But during the following event at Texas Motor Speedway, he capitalized on a two-lap shootout and overtook Playoff rival Tyler Reddick on the final lap to capture his first elusive victory of the season and the second of his Xfinity career.

The victory allowed Custer and the No. 00 SHR Ford team to transfer into the Championship 4 round and contend for the series championship at Homestead in November. Despite leading a race-high 95 laps during the finale, Custer ended up in the runner-up spot both on the track and in the final championship standings behind Reddick. Nonetheless, Custer doubled his top-five total results (14) and earned seven additional top-10 results (26) from his rookie season. He also boosted his average finishing result to a career-high 9.0 and secured the 2018 Xfinity owner’s title for SHR. 

Determined for redemption in 2019, Custer would embark on another stellar season. He notched three top-10 results during the first four-scheduled events before achieving his first victory of the season at Auto Club Speedway in March after leading 29 laps and outdueling Kyle Busch. Three races later, he steered his No. 00 Ford to a victory at Richmond Raceway in April and claimed his first Dash4Cash bonus after leading a race-high 122 laps. Custer proceeded to claim a final lap victory over Reddick at Pocono Raceway in June followed by dominant summer wins at Chicagoland Speedway and Kentucky Speedway. He was then awarded the victory at Darlington Raceway in September after the initial winner, Denny Hamlin, was disqualified due to his entry failing post-race inspection.

Custer secured his spot into the Xfinity Series Playoffs for a third consecutive season with a total of six victories and 18 top-10 results throughout the 26-race regular-season stretch. He finished third and eighth during the Round of 12’s first two events of the 2019 Xfinity Playoffs. He then secured a career-high seventh Xfinity victory of the season in October at Dover Motor Speedway in his 100th series start to race his way into the Round of 8.

After finishing 11th, eighth and second throughout the Round of 8, Custer secured a spot in the Championship 4 for a second consecutive season. During the finale at Homestead, Custer engaged in a late battle with title rival Reddick. He ended up in second place both on the track and in the final standings for a second consecutive season. Despite falling short of winning the championship, Custer achieved career-high stats with seven victories, 24 top-10 results, six poles, 922 laps and an average-finishing result of 9.0. 

Following 2019, Custer spent the next three seasons competing in the Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing, where he achieved his first series victory at Kentucky Speedway in July 2020, qualified for the 2020 Cup Playoffs and claimed the 2020 Rookie-of-the-Year title.

During the three-year span, he also made six starts on the Xfinity circuit, with his first occurring at Circuit of the Americas in May 2021 as he piloted SS-Green Light Racing’s No. 17 entry to a seventh-place finish. The following season, Custer achieved his second series victory at Auto Club Speedway and delivered the first NASCAR win for SS-Green Light Racing after leading a race-high 80 laps. He would back up the victory four races later by finishing third at Circuit of the Americas before competing at Road America, Pocono and Watkins Glen, where he earned an additional top-10 finish during the span.  

Returning to the Xfinity Series on a full-time basis and in SHR’s No. 00 Ford Mustang in 2023, Custer commenced the season by finishing ninth at Daytona in February before finishing no higher than 12th during the following five events. He then ignited a hot streak by finishing no lower than seventh amid five top-five results during his next six starts before grabbing a late, thrilling victory at Portland International Raceway in June. Three races later, he would achieve his second victory of the season in the series inaugural, rain-shortened Chicago Street Race in July and proceeded to finish in the top 10 in five of the final 10 regular-season events before the Playoffs commenced.

Making his fourth career appearance in the Playoffs in 2023, Custer finished fourth, sixth and second, respectively, throughout the Round of 12, which enabled him to transfer into the Round of 8. Despite finishing third, 13th and 19th, respectively, during the Round of 8, the Californian was able to claim the fourth and final transfer spot into the Championship 4 round. In his third bid to win the title, he sealed the deal on an overtime shootout after fending off title rivals Justin Allgaier, Sam Mayer and John Hunter Nemechek to win both the finale at Phoenix Raceway in November and score his first Xfinity Series championship. With his accomplishment, Custer became the 33rd competitor to win an Xfinity title and the seventh different Ford competitor to achieve the feat while also recording the first series title for Stewart-Haas Racing. 

Through 149 Xfinity starts, Custer has achieved one championship, 13 victories, 20 poles, 58 top-five results, 100 top-10 results, 2,359 laps led and an average-finishing result of 10.7. He is currently ranked in third place in the 2024 Xfinity Series regular-season standings and trails the points lead by 41 points on the strength of three top-five results through the first six scheduled events.

Cole Custer is scheduled to make his 150th Xfinity Series career start at Martinsville Speedway for the DUDE Wipes 250. The event is scheduled to occur this Saturday, April 6, and air at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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