NASCAR: Top candidate emerges to compete for new team in 2025

Stewart-Haas Racing Xfinity Series driver Cole Custer appears to be the favorite to compete for Haas Factory Team during the 2025 NASCAR Cup Series season.
Cole Custer, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR
Cole Custer, Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR / Stacy Revere/GettyImages

Weeks after it was announced that Stewart-Haas Racing would be shutting down after the 2024 NASCAR Cup Series season, team co-owner Gene Haas surprisingly confirmed that he plans to remain in the Cup Series as a team owner in 2025 and beyond, doing so with what is set to be called Haas Factory Team.

Haas has confirmed that he plans to retain one of his team's current four charters to operate a one-car team, starting next year. One of the other three charters is set to move to Front Row Motorsports, and the other two are believed to be on their way to 23XI Racing and Trackhouse Racing Team.

The team, which have also confirmed plans to continue running two cars in the Xfinity Series, have not yet announced who their drivers or manufacturer will be next year. But an early frontrunner has emerged when it comes to the Cup Series seat.

Cole Custer back to the NASCAR Cup Series?

After three impressive seasons with Stewart-Haas Racing in the Xfinity Series from 2017 to 2019, Cole Custer competed full-time for the team in the Cup Series from 2020 to 2022 before he was sent back down to the Xfinity Series.

He won the Xfinity Series championship with a three-win season in 2023, and he currently leads the point standings in 2024, despite having not yet found victory lane this year.

Stewart-Haas Racing executive Joe Custer, Cole's father, is set to run Haas Factory Team, and in the announcement that the team would be keeping a charter, Haas himself specifically referenced his desire to keep his platform to promote Haas Automation and Haas Tooling.

Given the fact that Custer's cars have long been sponsored by Haas's companies, it's hard to envision the team going with anybody else.

While Custer may not be a particularly flashy selection for Haas Factory Team, it is worth mentioning that, courtesy of his upset victory at Kentucky Speedway as a rookie in 2020, he owns as many Cup Series victories as the four current Stewart-Haas Racing Cup Series drivers do combined.

The 26-year-old Ladera Ranch, California native had been linked to Front Row Motorsports after the announcement that they would be expanding to three cars, especially since Bob Jenkins' team find themselves with two open seats, not just one, thanks to Michael McDowell's decision to leave for Spire Motorsports.

Next. Kyle Larson has a new teammate for 2025 (if he decides to return). Kyle Larson has a new teammate for 2025 (if he decides to return). dark

The only active Stewart-Haas Racing driver with a victory is Chase Briscoe, and he has been heavily linked to a move to Joe Gibbs Racing to replace the retiring Martin Truex Jr. behind the wheel of the No. 19 Toyota. The team's other three drivers, Josh Berry, Noah Gragson, and Ryan Preece, are all seeking new homes for the 2025 season.