Custer Eyes Another Iowa Win

Cole Custer

Custer returns to Iowa Speedway this week hoping to repeat his winning performance from last summer on the Newton oval. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Being first is not a rarity for Cole Custer, and he's looking for another first in the Casey’s General Stores 150 this coming weekend.

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

Custer dominated the Iowa race last August.  He started from the pole and led all 150 laps, beating runner-up Eddie MacDonald by 2.679 seconds.

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

In the June 2013 Iowa visit, Custer started second 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 loose," Custer said.  "Once you get the bumps figured out, it’s just a matter of getting off Turn 4."

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

"When the East and West (series) come together, the competition is definitely up a notch or two.  The field is so deep in talent," said Custer, who drives the No. 00 NAPA/Haas Automation Chevrolet.  "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 races.  He has K&N East wins at Iowa, New Hampshire and Richmond International Raceway.  He opened the 2014 season with a K&N West win at Phoenix International Raceway.

"Being able to accomplish that is definitely a highlight," Custer said.

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.

Nine members of the 2014-15 "NASCAR Next" class will be in action in the Casey’s General Stores 150.  Joining Custer are Gray Gaulding, Ryan Gifford, Austin Hill, Jesse Little, Dylan Lupton, Brandon McReynolds, K&N East points leader Ben Rhodes and Kenzie Ruston.

Daniel Suárez leads NASCAR touring series drivers with five wins this season.  He sits fourth in the K&N East standings and looks to rebound from a 32nd-place finish at Richmond, where he was slowed by electrical system issues.

K&N Pro Series West points leader Greg Pursley has yet to win in 2014, but Iowa Speedway is a place where that can change.  The 2011 series champion has been the best-finishing West driver on two occasions there.  Fourth place is his best overall result.

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