Ryan Reed and Cole Custer–Two XFINITY Drivers Looking Forward to the New Season

by Ron Fleshman On Tue, Jan. 30, 2018

CHARLOTTE, NC - SEPTEMBER 19: Ryan Reed speaks to the media as one of the 12 remaining drivers eligible to win the NASCAR XFINITY Series Championship during the NASCAR XFINITY Series Playoffs Media Day at Embassy Suites Charlotte Uptown on September 19, 2017 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images for NASCAR)

CHARLOTTE, NC – Ryan Reed and Cole Custer are promising young drivers in the XFINITY Series. They’ve both had success with Reed winning races for a couple of years and Custer making the playoffs and winning the final race of the 2017 season. Both have a goal of driving in the Monster Energy Cup Series at some point, but neither is in a hurry. They are looking forward to Daytona and the rest of the season

RYAN REED – No. 16 Ford Mustang – DO YOU LIKE PLATE RACING? “I certainly don’t hate it just because you’ve had good results. I think it’s easy to kind of get in slumps at superspeedways that aren’t even your fault. We just don’t seem to get in those. I think nowadays especially it takes having really strong race cars, especially at plate races, you have to make a lot happen. You have to be able to make moves and be aggressive. If you don’t, if your race cars aren’t as good, you just can’t make it happen. Fortunately, we don’t have that problem at Roush. I don’t know if I love them or hate them because so much is out of your control, but certainly having some success there helps you smile when you think of them rather than frown.”

IT’S THE 30TH ANNIVERSARY OR ROUSH. WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO DRIVE FOR HIM? “First of all, just driving for Jack is obviously really special. He’s such a big part of NASCAR’s history and he’s kind of one who has laid the groundwork for where NASCAR is today, so when you look at Jack Roush you have a lot of respect for him and to be able to drive for him is really cool. You pull from a lot of that knowledge and then I think for me what really makes it special is having won for him. Jack’s not a guy who is satisfied until you have success, so you can have top fives or top 10s and he’ll come up to you and pat you on the back, but when you see Jack smiling in Victory Lane you know, ‘OK, I actually made him proud today.’”

IS THERE A PLAN FOR YOU TO MOVE UP TO CUP? “Yeah, there has been talk. Obviously, we all know there is a lot that has to happen to go from XFINITY to Cup – sponsorship, the team being ready, the driver being read – and so I think something that I certainly want to do. I got in this sport to be a Cup driver one day, so I’m working really hard at it. I give Jack a hard time and push for it, so I think it’s something that’s on all of our minds and just when is the right time and how do we get there. Those are the questions we have to answer, so hopefully sooner than later we get that figured out.”

HOW DO YOU FEEL THE CAMAROS AND MUSTANGS MATCH UP? “That’s a question we all ask ourselves a lot and compare ourselves to our competition. I think they are. I think there are differences and I think each one has their advantages over the other. It’s a little bit different now for us with the composite body. That changes it a little bit, but I think they are competitive and I think it’s a lot on us to try and figure out how to use our strengths with our Ford body to our advantage.”

HOW WILL IT BE HAVING FOUR DIFFERENT DRIVERS IN THE OTHER TEAM CAR? “We ended the year last year without teammates or at least the vast majority of the second half of the year we didn’t have a teammate, so just having a second car is helpful. It can be done. You’ve seen it with organizations that have one-car programs and they have success, but for the most part, I think, it’s gonna be helpful just to have the second car. Mike Kelley is a really good crew chief, so I think he’s gonna be able to help the program. The whole XFINITY program, having him involved in that again, and I think having three fairly inexperienced drivers – at least in XFINITY cars – that will be different, but I also think it will be good because Ty has had some NASCAR experience with Roush, but Chase and Austin come from different organizations, so it will be cool to see their mindset and be able to pull from their previous experience, and also Austin is going to be splitting time with Penske as well, so that will be really good information and a really good comparison as we go.”

HOW WELL DO YOU KNOW THE OTHER GUYS? “I know Ty pretty well. I know Ty and I really have spent time with all three of them. We’ve all been in the Ford camp. Ty, I’ve run races with him last year, so I have a little bit of experience working with him, but we’ve all been in the Ford camp for a number of years, so I have a little bit of experience with them. I think that transition will be easy. The communication, we’re all comfortable with each other, so I don’t think that will be too much of an introduction phase.”

COLE CUSTER – No. 00 Ford Mustang – WHAT IS YOUR TIMEFRAME IN TERMS OF GETTING TO CUP? “There isn’t really a timeframe, honestly. We’re just trying to get some experience and also trying to win this XFINITY championship, so however, it plays out it plays out. I think you just have to focus on what you’re doing and do the best you can.”

CUP IS THE GOAL? “Yeah. Everybody wants to get to the Cup level, but however, it plays out it plays out.”

WHAT HAS SHR DONE FOR YOUR CAR THIS YEAR? “In the XFINITY Series they’re doing the flange fit bodies, so it takes a lot of the creativity that we had with the steel bodies out of it, so we’re still trying to find ways to make those better and trying to just get the scans right on them because NASCAR put a new scanning system in place. There is a lot of stuff and new rules out that we need to figure out and try to make our cars the best we can within the rules.”

DIDN’T YOU RUN A COUPLE RACES WITH THE FLANGE FIT BODY? “Yeah, we ran a couple races. We have some experience, but they also didn’t have that Hawkeye system, which is keeping us within lower tolerances and those races that we ran were short tracks, so the aero side wasn’t quite as important.”

THINGS SEEM CALM AT SHR THIS YEAR. HOW MUCH EMPHASIS HAS BEEN PUT ON CUP AND XFINITY WITH NO CHANGEOVER? “I’ll tell you right now there is no calm offseason, ever. It’s always a struggle, so there’s always stuff to learn with the Hawkeye system. That’s the biggest thing, honestly. We’re just trying to figure out how to get our cars to fit the scan. That’s the biggest thing. Everybody is working really hard right now to figure that out and it’s definitely gonna help us this year because we’re in way better shape than we were last year, so to be able to fluff and buff on our speedway cars and to focus more on the tracks that we need to work on, that’s gonna help us a lot.”

HAVE YOU SEEN ANY ADVANCEMENT IN THE ENGINE PROGRAM? “Doug Yates and all those guys are always working on stuff. I don’t know if there is any better engine program out there. There were times last year where I knew we were as fast as we were just because of the motor and I’ve never felt that before. It was crazy and I know that they’re working hard to get it even better, so I think we’re gonna be in good shape no matter what this year and I’m looking forward to it.”

WHAT ARE FIVE RACES YOU WOULD LIKE TO WIN OR COMPETE? “I would say I’d like to go back and race more midget stuff at some point, and then I’d like to run Turkey Night more than the Chili Bowl. Another race would be some type of V8 SuperCar. I think that would be kind of cool to run something over there. The Indy 500 is cool. Rolex 24 would be cool to run. I don’t know. It’s hard to run through. I’d have to really think about it, but those are the ones that come to mind.”

ARE YOU EXCITED ABOUT THE ROVAL AT CHARLOTTE? “It’s gonna be interesting, that’s for sure. It’s a really tight track, I guess. It’s gonna be interesting. We’re gonna see when we go there. We’re gonna be the first cars to find out, so nobody really knows what to expect. It could be good, it could be not what we need, but it’ll be interesting for sure.”

WHICH DO YOU PREFER, OVAL RACING OR ROAD COURSES? “Oval racing is where I’m from and probably what I more specialize in, but I really do like road racing. It’s a lot of fun. It’s something I feel like we need more of. I wish we went to more road courses like Road Atlanta and just different kinds of actual road courses because we have some really great ones in North America. Hopefully, we can keep running more. You’re just doing a lot more. Even though oval racing is really hard and you have to be real precise and you’re always on the edge, road course racing is fun because you’re banging gears, you’re driving it sideways, you’re spinning the tires, you’re hard on the brakes. It’s just a lot of stuff going on and it’s really fun.”

TONY SAID HE MIGHT LIKE TO RUN THE ROVAL. HOW WOULD IT BE TO HAVE HIM AS A TEAMMATE FOR THAT EVENT? “It would be awesome if Tony ran an XFINITY race with us. It would be really cool to have him as a teammate and get to bounce ideas off him. He’s obviously one of the best all-time, so it would be a dream come true to be his teammate.”

** The opinions expressed on this site are not necessarily those of the publisher. All comments other than website related problems need to be directed to the author. (c)SpeedwayMedia.com. **

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