The only rookie to find victory lane in 2020, Cole Custer came into the year with one of the most talented rookie classes the Cup series had seen in years. Custer may not have been the best overall rookie, but his win at Kentucky was one of the most impressive feats a rookie had this year. It could be considered a lucky win, but it was still a great wheelman moment. He was put in a position to win and made the most of it so I can’t take anything away from him.
With his win at Kentucky it all but assured him Rookie of the Year honors which he received after a 16th place standings finish. Custer’s performance excluding his one win was on par with the rest of the rookie class that consisted of Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, and John Hunter Nemechek. An average finish of 20th with 7 top ten’s is average pace for rookie’s now-a-days.
With the new season coming in, it’s expected that Custer will make a decent jump in his second year. Nothing noteworthy, but in SHR equipment it would be a disappointment for him not to make the playoffs once again. This time however he might have to prove it with something other than a lucky win.
There are no major changes coming to Custer’s team so any improvement will more than likely come from Custer himself.
Top fives: 5
Top Tens: 14
Average Finish: 16th
Top Fives: 3
Top Tens: 9
Average Finish: 19th
I really don’t expect regression out of any of the rookies this season barring any team failures, but I doubt that will be the case with an organization like Stewart-Haas Racing. If everything goes as it should, Custer may even contend for his second win this season. There is a strong possibility my best case happens, axe the win. Even if Custer can contend or make the playoffs without a win it’ll still be a positive sign of growth.
The worst step for any second-year driver is to perform identical to how they did in their prior season, and I don’t see that happening with Custer. At every level he’s competed in he has gotten significantly better each season. It won’t be anything earth shattering, but look to see Custer in the top fifteen more consistently this season.