Unassuming Whitt already making strides in truck series
By Jared Turner
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(May 11, 2011)
To hear Cole Whitt tell it, he's just a simple guy.
So simple, in fact, that his time during the week consists largely of hanging out at his team's race shop and tinkering with his own diesel truck.
The 19-year-old also isn't one to gloat about his accomplishments—which include a USAC National Midget championship in 2008 and two USAC Silver Crown wins in '09—and he more or less likes to take life at a slow pace when he's not racing.
Perhaps it is Whitt's low-key personality that makes the rookie hardly a household name yet in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
It's all good with him, though. He's been making plenty of noise this season on the track.
In just five starts this year in NASCAR's No. 3 division, Whitt has three top 10s and a worst finish of 14th. He's fifth in the standings, 12 points behind leader Johnny Sauter.
Whitt hopes his early success carries over to Friday's Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway, where he competed in the track's 2010 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East event. He qualified second and finished 26th after wrecking out of the race 25 laps into the competition. He led the first 24."I feel real confident going into Dover just because that track I had so much fun running there last year," Whitt said.
Whitt's most impressive run to date arguably came in March at Darlington Raceway, where the youngster scored an unlikely pole in his No. 60 Turn One Racing Chevrolet.
He then finished eighth, two spots worse than his career-best.
Not too shabby for a guy who cut his teeth racing on dirt and prior to this season had fewer than 20 total stock-car starts to his credit.
"I guess a lot of people just don't know who I am around here," Whitt said. "I wasn't really known in any of the other leagues. I've always been a guy who always wanted to race everything and any chance we can race we wanted to be there. … At the end of the day I'm still just trying to make a name for myself and still trying to really learn this whole new deal and this whole new kind of racing."
At Daytona in February, Whitt was a rookie who handled adversity like a veteran.
After failing to qualify for the season opener, the Alpine, Calif. , native hopped in the No. 93 truck qualified by Shane Sieg. He started 33rd and finished 14th, an accomplishment considering he was on pace for a top five before getting caught up in a late wreck.
"That's what's given us probably a really big drive to be a better team and definitely made us try so hard to get so much better, so that was a little bit of a turning point for us, something that gave us really kind of a kick in the butt to turn things around," Whitt said of his experience at Daytona.
Whitt's ability to get up on the wheel caught the eye of Turn One owner and truck series veteran Stacy Compton late last season.
Compton offered Whitt a one-race cameo start in the truck finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he started 12th and finished 28th.
Whitt's performance was enough to convince Compton to bring him back for the full season in 2011 as part of his development deal with Red Bull Racing.
"He's won races and championships in almost everything he has ever raced," Compton said. "The kid is just impressive."
What: Lucas Oil 200
Where: Dover International Speedway ; Dover , Del.
When: Friday, approx. 4:45 p.m. ET
TV: Speed, 8 p.m. ET (tape delay)
Radio: MRN/Sirius Satellite Ch. 90, 5 p.m. ET
Track layout: 1-mile oval
Race distance: 200 laps/200 miles
Qualifying: Friday, 10:10 a.m. ET
2010 winner: Aric Almirola
2010 polesitter: Kyle Busch