About ColeCole Custer will take the next step in an already impressive career in 2016, campaigning the full NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season in JR Motorsports’ No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet Silverado in search of the series title. The 18-year-old Ladera Ranch, Calif. native competed in 10 races last season with JRM, winning at Gateway International Raceway and earning two poles.
A high-school senior, Custer will add to some solid numbers in 2016. In 2014, at the age of 16, Custer put his name in NASCAR’s record books by winning his first pole position at Gateway, which made him the youngest pole winner in NASCAR Touring Series history. Later in that season, which entailed nine starts, Custer led 148 of the 175 laps at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on the way to becoming the youngest driver to win in NASCAR Touring Series history. He concluded that inaugural season in 2014 with one win, two top-five and six top-10 finishes.
Last season, Custer’s first with JRM, saw the triumph at Gateway, in which he led 19 laps and won a tight late-race battle with Tyler Reddick, two more top-five finishes and four top-10 results. He led 317 laps on the season in just 10 races, giving him 467 over 19 races in the NCWTS.
Custer’s ascent up the racing ladder began at the tender age of 4, with the youngster spinning circuits in a quarter midget behind a shop in Kannapolis, N.C. For the next seven years he traveled the country competing in weekly Quarter Midget Association (QMA) and United States Auto Club (USAC) Quarter Midget races. Custer was also honing his skills in pavement and dirt karting events, in addition to Bandelero racing at Charlotte Motor Speedway. All told, he accumulated more than 100 feature victories from 2002-10.
Custer progressed rapidly up the open-wheel ladder and soon graduated to USAC Midgets and Legend Cars. By the time he was 12, Custer locked down a 2011 USAC National Championship, winning a total of 15 races in only 22 starts. The success helped propel him into Late Model competition, where he earned 10 victories in various races across the western and southern regions of the U.S.
A transition to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series followed in 2013-14, and Custer’s rapid success at that level shattered expectations. Competing in only 26 races in both the West and East Series, Custer secured four wins, nine top-five and 11 top-10 finishes and four pole awards. Included in that total was a dominant performance at Iowa Speedway in 2013, when he started from the pole and led the race from start to finish. Custer will have veteran crew chief Joe Shear, Jr. on top of the pit box again this season. Shear Jr. has won 11 NCWTS races in his career, including both of Custer’s triumphs.