News and notes from each week of NASCAR racing using a Las Vegas oddsmaking perspective
Wednesday, July 7, 2021
Cole Custer is 200/1 to win 2021 Quaker State 400
No. 41 Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
● Event: Atlanta 400 (Round 21 of 36)
● Time/Date: 3:30 p.m. EDT on Sunday, July 11
● Location: Atlanta Motor Speedway
● Layout: 1.54-mile oval
● Laps/Miles: 260 laps/400 miles
● Stage Lengths: Stages 1: 80 laps / Stage 2: 80 laps / Final Stage: 100 laps
● TV/Radio: NBCSN / PRN / SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Notes of Interest
● For 51 seasons – from 1960 through 2010 – the NASCAR Cup Series raced twice a year at Atlanta Motor Speedway before scaling back to just one annual visit from 2011 through 2020. This weekend, Cole Custer and the No. 41 Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang team for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) join their Cup Series counterparts for a second 2021 event at the 1.54-mile oval during Sunday’s Atlanta 400. When the series last visited there in March for the sixth event of the season, Custer started 27th and finished 18th.
● Riding along with Custer and the No. 41 team for the first time this season will be longtime SHR partner Code 3 Associates, which has been a hero to animals for more than 30 years. If disaster strikes, Code 3 will deploy its Animal Rescue Team to help in emergencies like hurricanes, fires and floods. Since April 21, fans have had the opportunity to see their name featured on the No. 41 Code 3 Associates Ford this weekend. The fundraising campaign generated $4,100 in donations and, as a result, the names of 90 donors will appear on the decklid of Custer’s racecar.
● Sunday’s 400-mile race will be Custer’s milestone 60th Cup Series start and his third at Atlanta. In his first Cup Series start there in June 2020, Custer posted a 19th-place finish.
● In his three Atlanta starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, Custer’s best was his most recent, when he qualified his No. 00 SHR Fordon the pole and finished second by .191 of a second to Christopher Bell in the February 2019 race. Custer finished 10th in his Atlanta Xfinity Series debut in 2017 before returning in 2018 to qualify fourth but seeing his race end early after a lap-10 accident.
● Custer first appearance at Atlanta came in the February 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, when he started sixth and finished 17th in the No. 00 entry for JR Motorsports.
● After his 17th-place finish in last weekend’s inaugural Cup Series race at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, Custer arrives at Atlanta 28th in the driver standings.
● Code 3 Associates is dedicated to providing professional animal disaster response and resources to communities, as well as providing professional training to individuals and agencies involved in animal related law enforcement and emergency response. The organization’s mission is accomplished through hands-on animal rescue and care operations during disaster events, and through its certified animal welfare training seminars, which include animal cruelty training for investigators.
● As announced during the annual Coca-Cola 600 Memorial Day weekend, Custer and the team encourage fans to join Wow Wow Classic Waffles in support of Feeding America®, the largest hunger relief organization in the United States with a network of 200 food banks and 60,000 food pantries and meal programs. Fans are encouraged to text HUNGER to 50555 to make a $5 donation to Feeding America®, by visiting the Feeding America® donation page on Facebook, or the donation page via the Feeding America® website. Each $1 donated helps provide at least 10 meals secured by Feeding America® on behalf of local member food banks.
Cole Custer, Driver of the No. 41 Code 3 Associates Ford Mustang for Stewart-Haas Racing
Aside from the doubleheader weekend at Pocono, Atlanta is the first track you’re visiting for a second time in 2021. How will you benefit from your experience there in March?
“Well, our race in March definitely was not the result we wanted, but I still called it a solid day in a lot of respects. We made improvements on our Mustang all day but just couldn’t get going on the restarts. It’s a tough track to get your car right. Going back there a second time is going to be great for the series. It’s going to be hotter this weekend than it was in March so we’re going to get more of what we’re used to at Atlanta – a hot, slick track. We’ll just apply everything we learned from March and some past races at Atlanta to figure out how we can improve.”
You had a pretty good track record at Atlanta when you were full-time in the Xfinity Series. What do you like about the track?
“It has definitely been a pretty good track to me in the past. I think all of the worn-out racetracks have been good for me and are so fun to race. Being able to manage tire fall-off, and slipping and sliding around, and being able to do a lot of different things with the car. I’m looking forward to going back again. We’ve continued to learn a lot about the 550 horsepower package since we’ve started, so I think we can definitely capable of going there and having a strong run. Hopefully this is the week we can put it all together and have a strong run, compete for a top-10 and have a good finish. I think we’ve put a lot of work into it. We’ll see what happens this weekend.”
Code 3 Associates will be riding along with you for the first time, and there will be the names of 90 people who donated to the organization on the decklid of your racecar. How special is that for you?
“First of all, I want to say thanks to everyone who participated in the fundraiser. I love animals of all kinds and the work that Code 3 Associates does whenever disasters happen is definitely unique and incredible. They’ve been with Stewart-Haas for quite some time and it’s a privilege to have Code 3 Associates on my racecar this weekend with the names of all those donors. I hope to go out and give them a solid finish at Atlanta this weekend.”