CHARLOTTE, N.C. — If you’re trying to describe Cole Custer’s upcoming 2017 season in one word, you could probably do so very well with the word “change”.
Custer is not only moving up from NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series to the XFINITY Series, he’s doing it with a new team and new manufacturer as he joins Stewart Haas Racing, which switched from Chevrolet to Ford during the offseason.
Spending some time at the NASCAR Media Tour on Tuesday, Custer talked about the changes he has experienced so far, both in preparing for the new season and as far as the new challenges he is set to experience.
“I think it’s definitely going to be different, coming (up) from the Truck Series,” he said. “I ran some races last year and that will help a little bit. But there are a lot of Cup guys I’m running against now, and a lot of drivers who have been racing in the series for a few years. It’s going to be a tough challenge … but I believe in our team and I’m excited to get going.”
Pressed for his thoughts on starting a new team from scratch, the rising star didn’t hold back.
“It’s been tough,” Custer expressed. “Our guys are working hard getting things together. Keep in mind, you have to create a fab shop (in this situation). We’ve never hung XFINITY bodies before … so that’s just one of the challenges you face when you’re starting something new. Then you have a new manufacturer now. We have some very smart people working in the shop, and I have teammates like Kevin Harvick that I can lean on for direction and advice. I think we can contend for the championship even being a first-year team with a new manufacturer.”
“From what I’ve seen over the offseason, I think we have some awesome people who are building fast cars. I’m looking forward to having a shot at it.”
Talking further about the challenges he personally faces, Custer noted that seat time and knowledge are key at this stage of his development.
“It’s definitely tough, racing against some of the guys that have been doing it for a few years now. You have longer races in this series, so that means (you have) more time in the car and to figure things out. Now, with the segments, it’s going to be different in that way too. I think what I have to do is just learn every day and try to get better.”
“I probably lean on Kevin Harvick more so than maybe some of my other teammates just because of his experience and success in the XFINITY Series, but we have so many knowledgeable people that I feel like all have great advice to offer me. It’s just up to me to work hard and learn what it takes to be successful. I feel like I’ll be okay.”
About the Writer
Tom Baker is the Owner and Senior Editor of Race Chaser Online, as well as creator of the Stock Car Steel/SRI Motorsports Show — airing Thursdays at 7 p.m. Eastern on the Performance Motorsports Network.
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