NASCAR Sprint Cup Rookie of the Year candidate Cole Whitt finished 40th in Sunday night’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway after an incident with Danica Patrick. The finish dropped him to 34th in the standings. Whitt is learning quickly what most drivers new to the series have learned--that life as a NASCAR rookie is tough. He has also learned to appreciate the good things that have come his way.
Four races into the season, Whitt’s best finish has been 27th at Phoenix International Raceway. His cars have sometimes been better than his finishes and his team has worked hard. Sunday was his first visit to Bristol in a Sprint Cup car and his numbers should improve as he returns to tracks later in the season.
The California native has a lot of positives to take away from the first four weeks of the season. With no owner or driver points to fall back on, he has been forced to qualify at time trials and he has been successful in getting into each race. He has sponsorship, a team that works hard and seasoned drivers he can turn to for advice and encouragement.
In a recent phone interview, the 22-year old said he is grateful for the opportunity Dale Earnhardt Jr. gave him to drive for his NASCAR Nationwide series team and for the guidance he gave him that helped him as he progressed to the next level. He feels he can turn to several of the seasoned drivers for advice.
He is excited for the opportunity Swann Racing game him to drive in NASCAR’s premier series in the team’s second car. Fellow rookie Parker Kligerman drives the No. 20 for the team owned by Swan Energy CEO Brandon Davis.
Sponsor Speed Stick GEAR, a new line of antiperspirants designed for advanced performances, filmed a documentary series that chronicled Whitt’s preparation and in-car experience leading up to this year’s Daytona 500. A workout enthusiast, Whitt said he is very happy to have Speed Stick GEAR as a sponsor on the No. 26. Whitt says they are a great company and reflect the active lifestyle he likes.
As most rookies know, the first season is often measured by the experience gained through both success and failure. Whitt’s goal is to finish the season in the top-25 drivers, a realistic goal if he can get a little luck along the way.