St. Hilaire: Custer Not An Option For No. 32

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May 4, 2019: Cole Custer during qualifying for the Allied Steel Buildings 200 at Dover International Speedway in Dover, DE.
Cole Custer. (HHP/Ashley Dickerson photo)

FORT WORTH, Texas – Despite announcing a new technical alliance with Stewart-Haas Racing on Friday at Texas Motor Speedway, Go Fas Racing owner Archie St. Hilaire had a strong message for reporters.

Stewart-Haas’ most-promising young star won’t be driving for his race team, at least not in 2020.

St. Hilaire emphatically said Friday afternoon that NASCAR Xfinity Series playoff contender Cole Custer, currently driving SHR’s No. 00 Ford Mustang in that division, “is not coming to our team” when asked about his plans for the upcoming year.

Motorsports Tribune first reported on St. Hilaire’s comments following an afternoon press briefing at the Go Fas Racing team hauler.

“Cole Custer’s not coming here,” St. Hilaire repeated. “Alright? It’s all over social media, so I wanted to get that one right out of the way. We really want Corey to come back. We’re negotiating with Corey. Of course, we had negotiations going to know where we were going (as a team), and we make an investment in that, so now we’re just trying to dot the I’s and cross the T’s to work the deal out with him (LaJoie) and finish that up.

“I think in a couple weeks we’ll know where we’re going, but we want Corey back.”

LaJoie, 28, has been solid in his first year driving for Go Fas Racing. He’s earned two top-10 finishes – at Daytona Int’l Speedway and Talladega Superspeedway, respectively – and has the team 29th in owner points, tied for the team’s highest placing in the Cup Series.

“We worked well together this year,” noted St. Hilaire. “Our crew chief works well with him. For a small team I think we’ve had a decent year. And I think going forward if we just jump into … obviously at Daytona, anything can happen, but when we start going to Vegas, California and Phoenix with the same group, we’ve got a great group of people. I don’t think we want to change any person in this organization through the winter, and I’ve never said that before.

“Everybody that works here right now, we’re happy with, and we want to continue with the same driver and crew chief right through.”

Despite St. Hilaire’s confidence that he’ll get LaJoie back in the seat for 2020, he didn’t quite offer a sure thing, noting that all his agreements are traditionally one-year deals.

“I think that’s where it’s going to end up, but I don’t want to sit here and say he’s our driver yet, because nobody is signed,” he said. “We have one year deals. We have a one year deal with Stewart-Haas. In my businesses, I do one year at a time and I go by an old adage that probably is different in this business than most people, but if I have a good relationship with somebody for a year, we’ll go forward. If it’s not, then why go through the pain of not working, right? So we do one year at a time.”

“The Stewart-Haas deal is one year, but we’re really looking to establish something with them, so that when the new car comes out, hopefully we’ll stay along with it,” he noted. “But it’s a one year deal at this point. If it all works good, the cars are going better and the technology we’re learning from, I think you’ll see it continue. We’ve got one engineer; they probably have 200 over there, so it should do nothing but help us. But you never know.

“If we don’t trip over ourselves, and we get better, we’ll continue because it’s a lot of money too. So we’ve got to make sure we get return on investment. So that’s the plan.”