There's only one thing more difficult than securing a seat in a NASCAR Cup car these days.
And that of course, is getting a ticket to see Taylor Swift.
Too soon for some of you?
"You Need to Calm Down" and "Shake it Off".
Anymore, though, perhaps holding on to one of those seats is as difficult as getting one. Just ask Cole Custer, who is out as the driver of the Stewart-Haas, No. 41 Ford Mustang as of this week and is being replaced by Ryan Preece. The news ends a three-year, full-time run with the team for Custer.
Admittedly, it wasn't exactly a decorated stint. Custer managed but one win and two top fives and those came in his rookie season in 2020. Since, Custer has finished in the top 10 just five times and finished 26th and 25th in the point standings.
No doubt, that's not good enough for Tony Stewart, himself a three-time Cup champion. And I'm not saying it's the wrong move. Certainly, I'd value Stewart's assessment of driving talent over mine.
But, when did drivers get put on the same leashes college football coaches are on? Three years and you're out? Just like that?
Unfortunately, it's becoming a trend. We saw it with Erik Jones and Joe Gibbs Racing a couple of years ago and unbelievably, his replacement, Christopher Bell, was even in some rumors before making a run all the way to the championship race at the end of this season.
And the lack of results wasn't just on Custer. Stewart-Haas Racing struggled as an organization this year. It's not like Aric Almirola was much better, finishing 20th in points. Given, he had seven top-10 finishes, but none of them came in the final 12 races. But, alas, Almirola has that Smithfield sponsorship in tow and it's Custer who's the turkey.
The good news for Custer is that he's not out completely. He will return to the Xfinity Series to drive for the organization in 2023. Even more good news, that's where Custer, still just 24 years old, has enjoyed the bulk of his success, with 10 wins, including seven in 2019, his last full-time season in the series.
With both Kevin Harvick and Almirola reportedly entering their final seasons, perhaps this is nothing more than a one-year send-down. One would have to think Custer will have every opportunity to earn his way back next season.
But the road from the Cup Series to the Xfinity Series and back to Cup is a long, twisting and rarely traversed one. AJ Allmendinger will complete the long road back when he takes the track as Kaulig's full-time Cup driver next year, but it took 10 wins in two supremely impressive seasons in the minors to get him there.
Difficult? For sure. Impossible? No.
So, good luck to Custer who, hopefully, hasn't made his last stand.
And my apologies if you didn't get your Swifty tickets before Ticketmaster pulled the plug. Jokes aside, dealing with that over the course of days and coming away empty handed would be enough to make anyone see "Red."
Hope there's no "Bad Blood" between us.
Seriously, how many songs does this woman have?
If you're like me, there's nothing more annoying than getting hit with the endless stream of campaign commercials each election season.
Allow me a quick aside, but why aren't those limited to cable news networks? I don't need to be told who to vote for during halftime of a Bills-Vikings game on a random NFL Sunday while I'm begging for Gabe Davis to make two more receptions because I'm down two points and each catch is worth one in a fantasy PPR league.
The last thing I should be tasked with in that moment is considering the future of our government, local or beyond.
And why do eharmony commercials center around single people? It's a company dedicated to creating relationships, shouldn't the commercials show us, you know, couples? If these people are still single, why are they on my TV screen telling me how great eharmony is?
These are the thoughts that keep me up at night.
Any who, I finally found a political campaign we can all get behind. Well, unless you're a Chase Elliott fan.
Ryan Blaney, seemingly tired of the Elliott family hogging of NASCAR's Most Popular Driver Award (Chase and Bill have combined for 20 of them), made his case and his stand to end Chase's four-year run in a tongue-in-cheek, fun-poking video released on Twitter this week.
In it, Blaney accuses Chase of eating chicken wings with a fork and knife, which to me is the second biggest crime surrounding the fried-and-dipped poultry delicacy, only to calling boneless wings "wings" at all.
Come on, man. All wings have bones in them, that's how they work. You're eating chicken nuggets dipped in buffalo sauce. Just call them what they are!
Like any campaign ad, who knows if any of it's true and I doubt Chase Elliott's wing-eating practices will matter much to the NASCAR fan base, a big chunk of which is his fan base as well. But kudos to Blaney for his creativity.
Now, seriously, Gabe, can you get open this week, please?
— Reach Ryan Pritt at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @RPritt.
This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Custer out of the NASCAR Cup Series; Blaney throws shade at Elliott