By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Writer
NASCAR Xfinity Series regular Cole Custer had a career season in 2018. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver was among the most consistent throughout the season, making the Championship Four for the first time.
Custer earned his second career victory at Texas Motor Speedway, securing a spot in the Championship Four after narrowly missing it in 2017. On his way to making the Playoffs and competing for a Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the 20-year-old earned 14 top-fives, 26 top-10s, and a series-leading six pole positions.
Although pit strategy ultimately relegated Custer to a runner-up finish in the championship points standings, he narrowly earned SHR the Owner’s Championship. Unable to regain ground on eventual Champion Tyler Reddick, the driver of the No. 00 Haas Automation Ford Mustang ran down the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 42 to claim SHR’s first Owner’s Championship in the Xfinity Series.
“I think that obviously that is the hardest part is just getting there (to Homestead),” Custer said. “We won the Owner’s Championship so that’s a huge plus side. We finished second in the Driver’s Championship, so that was a little bit frustrating. We tried to do the best we could. We didn’t leave much out there, and it just didn’t work out.”
In 2018, Custer had teammates for a total of 12 races in Chase Briscoe and Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Aric Almirola and Kevin Harvick. Briscoe and Harvick earned victories in both of those races. In 2019, Briscoe will run full-time as a teammate to Custer for SHR.
Custer believes that there having a full-time teammate will help the organization.
“Being able to bounce notes off each other both driving wise and set-up wise will help a ton.”
Custer also made his Premier Series debut in 2018, running three races in a Rick Ware Racing Ford Fusion that was aligned with SHR. Although his best finish was 25th in his debut at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Ladera Ranch, CA native turned heads. In his final Cup race of 2018, Custer qualified 10th at Richmond Raceway, beating several Playoff drivers in the process.
For 2019 however, there currently are no plans for Custer to compete at NASCAR’s top level.
“Not right now, we have nothing planned (for the Cup Series).”