Cole Custer turned a lot of heads in 2014
when at the age of 16 he became the youngest
driver in history to reach Victory Lane in one of
NASCAR’s top three divisions.
Among those who really took notice of Custer
were Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his sister, Kelley Earnhardt Miller, whom together made the young driver
an offer he couldn’t refuse – to wheel a part-time
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series entry for JR
Motorsports in 2015.
Custer, who is the son of Stewart-Haas Racing
Executive Vice President Joe Custer, made nine
truck starts in 2014 – all in a Haas Automation-sponsored Chevrolet. The youngster from Ladera
Ranch, California, finished in the top 10 six times
and ended up outside the top 15 only once.
The performance that really landed him on the
map came that September at New Hampshire
Motor Speedway, where he led 148 of 175 laps on
the way to his history-making victory.
So when JR Motorsports announced plans to
launch a part-time Truck Series team beginning
in 2015, Custer was a logical choice to fill the
seat. Custer not surprisingly made the most of the
opportunity, netting four top- 10 finishes highlighted
by a victory at Gateway Motorsports Park in his
Earnhardt Jr. sees a lot of potential in the now-
18-year-old Custer, who remained with JR Motorsports for this season and saw his Truck Series
schedule balloon from part time to full time.
“We have a young kid with Cole,” Earnhardt said.
“We have great expectations and a vision for the
next several years of what we want to do. Obviously,
we want to win all the races we enter, but we don’t
want to put all that pressure on him to go out there
and light the world on fire.”
After nine races in his first full season in a JR
Motorsports truck, Custer had three top- 10 finishes
that included a pair of top fives. While Custer’s
learning curve remains a bit steep, his boss
believes the potential for growth is strong.
“But by all means, if he gets it done, he gets it
done,” Earnhardt said. “He’s got a great opportunity
here to pace himself and learn on his own terms
and become the driver he wants to be.”