Cole Custer honors Sam Ard with Darlington throwback scheme

Mike Arning/True Speed PR

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

With NASCAR’s annual Labor Day visit to Darlington Raceway slowly approaching, the first of many throwback schemes are beginning to pop up from the sport’s Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and XFINITY Series (NXS) teams.

One of the first to arrive this year is Cole Custer’s No. 00 Haas Automation, Inc. Ford.

As unveiled by Custer and Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) on Wednesday afternoon, the 19-year-old’s No. 00 will pay homage to Sam Ard, who made the number famous with 22 victories in just 92-career NXS starts throughout the 1980s.

Ard, who passed away just two months ago on April 2, had a brief three-year career in NASCAR. But the Asheboro, North Carolina native quickly established himself into the sport’s lore with an incredible run in what was then known as the NASCAR Budweiser Late Model Sportsman Series. From 1982-84 Ard earned two championships and a runner-up result in the points, with a combined average finish of just 5.5.

Sam Ard was dominant in the No. 00 Oldsmobile through the mid-1980s. (Photo: Mike Arning/True Speed PR)

The North Carolinian made only one start in Cup – a one-lap appearance at Martinsville Speedway in 1984 – but his dominance of the NXS has forever etched his name into the sport’s history, allowing a younger driver such as Custer to discover his story.

“The 00 number has been a part of my entire NASCAR career, and over the years I’ve gotten to know its history and met some of the people who worked with Sam and saw him race,” Custer said in a release. “The more I learn about Sam and all that he accomplished, the more impressive it becomes. I feel like I’m driving his car, and I want to make him and his family proud. Guys like Sam Ard helped shape the sport into what it is today. Without him, I don’t know if the opportunity to drive racecars for a living would exist. I’m grateful for it and I’d like him and his family to know it.”

Now 12 races into his rookie season with SHR, Custer sits ninth in the series standings with two top fives and five top 10s. The Ladera Ranch, California native will carry the special scheme in the Sept. 2 Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200.

“Sam Ard was a terrific ambassador and champion for the NASCAR XFINITY Series. It’s great to see a team like Stewart-Haas Racing, and their rising star Cole Custer, pay tribute to Sam with a special throwback paint scheme in his honor,” Darlington Raceway president Kerry Tharp said. “Sam is from nearby Pamplico, and it’s great to have a local racing hero like Sam, and his family, recognized in this manner. Cole’s paint scheme will be one of the highlights of our Sport Clips Haircuts VFW 200 race on Sept. 2, and we thank him and Stewart-Haas Racing for remembering one of our sport’s heroes this way.”

(Photo: Mike Arning/True Speed PR)

(Photo: Mike Arning/True Speed PR)

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