Cole Custer on potential for Cup Series racing in 2025, lessons learned from first stint

cole custer on potential for cup series racing in 2025, lessons learned from first stint

Cole Custer on potential for Cup Series racing in 2025, lessons learned from first stint

LOUDON, N.H. — Reigning NASCAR Xfinity Series champion Cole Custer said Friday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway that “it would be a dream come true to run that Cup car,” referencing the recently announced Haas Factory Team entry, coming to the NASCAR Cup Series in 2025.

You’re in luck, Cole — you just might know a guy.

HFT, unveiled Thursday via press release, is set to operate one of Stewart-Haas Racing’s current Cup charters — along with two NXS entries — next season as the championship organization SHR shutters at the end of 2024 and transforms with Gene Haas as sole proprietor of the revamped organization.

The team’s president? Custer’s father, Joe.

Custer, 26, has maintained since being relocated to the team’s Xfinity car ahead of last season after three seasons in Cup that his goal was always to return to the sport’s premier series, but no word yet on if this is the precise opportunity to make it happen.

“Whenever I went back to the Xfinity Series, my goal was always to go back to Cup, so I’ve been trying to work on what I can do to get myself better over the past year and a half,” said the current series points leader. “And at the end of the day, you know, you try and do as best you can do, but it all sorts itself out. But I really don’t have much to say or anything right now that’s solidified or anything.”

MORE: SHR to close after 2024 season | NHMS weekend schedule

It’s possible that Custer could wind up slotted in one of the team’s two NXS entries in search of more seasoning in NASCAR’s ultra-competitive Saturday series. Currently on track to successfully defend his 2023 title, however, all signs — and sponsors, as the yet-to-be-numbered Cup entry is expected to carry Haas Automation decals, currently on Custer’s No. 00 Ford  — Custer would appear to be, on paper, the choice to fill that seat.

Though a previous Cup Series winner at Kentucky Speedway in 2020, Custer’s first foray into Cup racing was largely met with early career hurdles, following up that one playoff appearance in his rookie campaign with standings finishes of 26th and 25th the next two seasons, respectively, and five total top 10s.

A three-win season last year culminated in his first national series title and, while winless so far in 2024, the California native has arguably elevated his game further this season with an average finish (8.9) that would slot in as a career-best while being on pace for more top 10s than a year ago. He certainly feels Cup ready now, and has had plenty of time to digest what he’d do differently this time, should he get the call.

“I think the biggest thing is just how you communicate with your team. I think at the Cup level, I mean, the top 30 guys, you give them something underneath them that they can go fast with, give them a good car, fast car, they’re gonna go fast. The top 30 guys all have talent; it’s just how you communicate with your team to get that consistently,” he said. “How you work with your team to fix problems and really be able to hone in on getting the car exactly how you want it every single weekend and consistently. … I think the biggest thing is you got to look yourself in the mirror. You’ve got to figure out the ways that you can be better. You just can’t put it off the side and say that you’re good enough and that you don’t need to work on anything. You’ve got to try and work on yourself and try and keep making gains in those areas.”

The timing feels right, but one question remains — does Custer feel he’s a “top 30″talent in the sport?

“I hope so,” Custer said with a wry grin. “Yeah. I mean, I think I can definitely do it. I think when you look at what I’ve done at the Xfinity level, I think the guys that I’ve raced against that are that are in the Cup level now.

“You know, I think there’s no reason why not.”

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