When he showed up for Championship 4 Media Day at The Edition in Miami Beach, Cole Custer didn’t exhibit the bluster or braggadocio of a driver who had blown away the competition in last year’s season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Custer didn’t qualify for the NASCAR Xfinity Series Championship 4 Round last season, but his performance at Homestead was head-and-shoulders above that of any of the title contenders. Custer led 182 of the 200 laps and finished 15.405 seconds ahead of runner-up Sam Hornish Jr.
But that was last year — and Custer knows it, as he ponders Saturday’s Ford EcoBoost 300 (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
“I don’t know if you can really expect to do the same thing, because things change,” Custer said. “You know, little things that we have to kind of account for. And obviously Christopher (Bell) and Tyler (Reddick) got to go down there and test, so I bet they got faster.
“But I think you’ve just got to work off your notes from last year and do your homework, and I think there’s no reason why you can’t compete for a win.”
Another major difference. In his second year in the No. 00 Stewart-Haas Racing Ford, Custer is battling Bell, Reddick and Daniel Hemric for the Xfinity Series championship.
“It would mean a lot, especially just to our whole team, because as a new team last year, I think everybody had to work so hard to get to the point that we’re at now, so it would mean a lot to all of our people to get this championship and bring it home.”
Custer did have a scare in Friday evening’s final practice session, tagging the outside wall in the waning moments. The team has elected not to move to a backup car and will patch up the No. 00 in time for Saturday’s time trials.