LOUDON, N.H. — When it comes to race tracks on the NASCAR national series circuit, few are closer to Ladera Ranch, California’s Cole Custer than a small one-mile oval tucked away on the opposite side of the country from where he grew up.
New Hampshire Motor Speedway has been the site of Custer’s brightest NASCAR moments, stretching all the way back to his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East days, and if he can find a way to win this weekend’s Overton’s 200 at the ‘Magic Mile’, the 19-year-old NASCAR XFINITY Series rookie will add another golden memory to his resume.
In Custer’s first-ever start at New Hampshire in 2013, he captured his fourth-career K&N Pro Series win from the pole after leading 60 laps.
A year later, he followed that effort up with his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in his first series start at Loudon, becoming the youngest NASCAR national series winner in history at 16 years, 7 months and 28 days old.
On that day, the then-16-year-old again started from the pole and dominated the UNOH 175, leading a race-high 148 laps and passing former series champion Matt Crafton with four laps remaining en route to the win.
Custer has fond memories of that race, saying that it was an experience like none he had ever experienced to come away with the win in the fashion he did.
“It was so special because it was a special place for our team with a lot of crew guys from the Northeast,” Custer explained. “We came there with a fast truck and we were fast in the K&N car the year before that. It was just phenomenal to get my first win there and it kind of solidified myself in that series.”
“It was definitely a day to remember. It put my name out there a bit more and gave me more confidence going forward.”
Now, Custer is looking ahead to this weekend’s event, which marks his first-career XFINITY start at Loudon.
If he can find a way to victory lane on Saturday, Custer will have won his maiden start at the one-mile Granite State oval in three different NASCAR series, writing a page of historical significance in the process.
“It would certainly be pretty cool to pull that off,” Custer said of the possibility of achieving the feat.
But Custer knows it won’t be easy, especially with the likes of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regulars Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson in the field, all hoping to take the spoils away from the XFINITY regulars.
However, he feels up to the challenge, especially considering that Loudon is a track which he says suits his driving style.
“I think we’ve had really good cars in the past at short tracks and I think (those types of tracks) are more natural to me than (running) at mile-and-a-halfs,” Custer explained. “It’s probably like that for most guys. We just grew up running short tracks and didn’t have to deal with aero as much.”
“You just have to try to max out your entry speed and roll through the center to get a decent exit. It’s tough when your car isn’t perfect, but I feel like we’ve always been good at that, especially at New Hampshire.”
Custer enters Loudon sixth in the regular season point standings and solidly on the provisional playoff grid, hoping to improve on his record of two wins, two poles, three top-10s and 208 laps led at the ‘Magic Mile’ on Saturday.
“Hopefully it can give us a little more magic when it’s all said and done,” he said with a smile.
Stewart Haas Racing contributed material to this story.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 23-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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