Tuesday, May 13, 2014

K&N Pro Series News & Notes: Iowa

NASCAR Next driver Cole Custer dominated the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race last August at Iowa Speedway in Newton.
NASCAR Next driver Cole Custer dominated the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West
combination race last August at Iowa Speedway in Newton, and looks to become the
first repeat winner in the event since its 2007 inception. Getty Images for NASCAR
Being first is nothing rare for Cole Custer as he looks for another first in the Casey’s General Stores 150.

The 16-year-old NASCAR Next driver has four NASCAR K&N Pro Series wins to his credit in just 19 starts including one at Iowa Speedway in Newton last August. If Custer can find his way back to Victory Lane at the .875-mile track on Saturday, May 17, he’ll become the first two-time winner of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East/West showdown event in its 10th edition.

Custer dominated the Iowa event last August like no driver before him. After starting from the pole position, he led all 150 laps and beat runner-up Eddie MacDonald to the line by 2.679 seconds.

“We had a super car that night,” he said. “I was just proud of my guys on how we rebounded from the first Iowa race that I thought we should’ve won.”

In the June 2013 Iowa visit, Custer started second on the grid and led 19 laps before settling for a sixth-place overall finish and fourth among East entries.

The key to navigating the nine-year-old track designed by NASCAR Hall of Famer Rusty Wallace is handling the bumps in Turn 4.

“When you’re not used to the bumps, the car wants to step out a bit and get a little loose,” Custer said. “Once you get the bumps figured out, it’s just a matter of getting off Turn 4. Iowa is a great track to race and I’m looking forward to it.”

The wick gets turned up a bit in these combination races and Custer enjoys the challenge and expects another solid outing.

“When the East and West come together for these Iowa races, the competition is definitely up a notch or two. The field is just so deep in talent,” said the driver of the No. 00 NAPA/Haas Automation Chevrolet. “I think we’ll be able to bring an even better car than we had last time.”

Custer already is in a special group of nine drivers to have won both K&N Pro Series East and West events. The Ladera Ranch, Calif., product has K&N East wins at Iowa, New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon and Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. He opened the 2014 season with a K&N West win at Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, Ariz.

“I saw that list. It’s really an honor to be mentioned with those drivers,” he said. “Being able to accomplish that is definitely a highlight.”

Other K&N East and West race winners are: Chuck Bown, Ricky Craven, Brian Ickler, Dylan Kwasniewski, Joey Logano, Andrew Ranger, Ken Schrader and Peyton Sellers.

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