On Saturday, Cole Custer will fight for his first NASCAR Xfinity Series championship. On Friday, Custer was named the future of Stewart-Haas Racing. In a team release, SHR announced he will drive the #41 Ford Mustang for the 2020 NASCAR Cup Series season and fight for Rookie of the Year honours.
“I was asked last year about this time what Cole needed to do to earn his place in the NASCAR Cup Series, and I said he needed to win,” SHR co-owner Gene Haas stated. “Well, Cole has done that – a lot. He showed that he’s ready to compete at the next level and we’re giving him that opportunity.”
Custer, currently in his third full season of Xfinity competition, broke out with a seven-win campaign and is tied for the most poles among NXS drivers with six. In each of his three years of full-time racing at NASCAR”s second tier, he has finished in the top five in points, including two straight Championship Round appearances.
The son of Haas executive Joe Custer, he began racing in NASCAR’s top three national series in 2014 in what is now the Gander Outdoors Truck Series with the now-shuttered Haas Racing Development arm. When he won at New Hampshire Motor Speedway later that year, he became the youngest national series race winner at just over sixteen years and seven months of age.
“This is the moment I’ve worked for ever since I first started racing,” Custer stated. “I’ve learned a lot in these last three years in the Xfinity Series, and to be able to stay within Stewart-Haas Racing will make a steep learning curve a little less steep. I know the people, the culture and what’s expected of me. I’m ready for this challenge.”
He will replace Daniel Suárez in the #41. Suárez, the 2016 Xfinity champion, confirmed his departure from SHR on Thursday after just one season with the team.
With Custer’s promotion to the premier series, the 2020 Cup Series Rookie of the Year battle now features a wealth of success from NASCAR’s lower levels. Of the four drivers competing for the 2019 Xfinity title, three are heading to Cup rides next year, each representing the three manufacturers. In addition to Custer, Tyler Reddick and Christopher Bell move to the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE of Richard Childress Racing and the Toyota Camry of Leavine Family Racing, respectively.