BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – In a little over two weeks, NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) driver Cole Custer will come to Talladega Superspeedway for the MoneyLion 300, April 27, looking to AXE the competition and score his first ‘Dega victory.
But, before he makes the journey to NASCAR’s biggest track, Custer visited nearby Bessemer (Birmingham suburb) Tuesday and competed against media in “axe” throwing as well go-kart racing.
“Today was so much fun. I was in my element on the go-karts, but the axe throwing was new to me,” said Custer, who drives the No. 00 Ford for Stewart Haas Racing. “It’s not easy for sure. It is sorta like what Talladega has been to me. It’s been really tough – not only at Talladega but the other ‘speedway’ track at Daytona that we compete on. I guess you can say I have an ‘axe to grind’ when we come back here in a few weeks.”
The California native, who is locked into the season-ending playoffs after his win last month in Fontana (CA), went head-to-head against local media and fans at the European style Autobahn Indoor Speedway go-karting facility. He also “unleashed his inner lumberjack” and tried his hand at axe throwing, where the goal is to hit the bullseye. Custer spent the morning on a media tour talking all things Talladega, including the MoneyLion 300 and the Xfinity Series’ Dash 4 Cash $100,000 Bonus Program.
He has competed in the NXS at Talladega twice with finishes of 26th and ninth, which came in last year’s MoneyLion 300. At the other restrictor plate track – Daytona – Custer has competed in five races with 14th being his best result. Needless to say, luck hasn’t been on his side at either Daytona or Talladega’s 2.66-mile layout.
“No doubt, we have been in the wrong place at the wrong time,” admitted Custer. “We have run much better than the results show. We have been caught up in some accidents that weren’t of our making. The ‘Big One’ can bite you in a second, or you can get caught out of the draft with the snap of a finger. We played our cards right last year and came home with a ninth-place finish, and feel we can improve on that in a couple of weeks.”
Custer, a pole vaulter in high school, is one of four drivers eligible for the Dash 4 Cash program this weekend at Richmond, and if he is one of the top-four finishing full-time NXS drivers at the checkered flag, he will then come to Talladega with yet another opportunity to claim the $100,000 bonus.
“It would be nice to come back with a little extra on the line and take home the trophy (Hammer & Anvil created by Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham) and the cash,” said Custer. “Listen, yeah we haven’t had some of our better runs at ‘Dega, but we love going there. Everyone has a good time there. People love walking down Talladega Blvd. I will be a part of the ‘Big One on the Blvd’ (driver parade and fan competitions) in the infield on Friday night, so I can’t wait. It’s just fun, and an incredible show for fans to see.”
The MoneyLion 300 is scheduled for a noon CDT start on Saturday, April 27. The day also includes qualifying for the GEICO 500 for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. The GEICO 500 is set for Sunday, April 28, which gets the green flag at 1 p.m. CDT.