On the heels of the induction of the second class of the NASCAR Hall of Fame, young up and coming driver Cole Whitt is just taking it all in and learning from the masters of the sport.
[media-credit name=”Photo credit: redbullusa.com” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]But most of all, the soon to be twenty year old rookie who is now leading the point standings in the Camping World Truck Series is forging his own path. And yes, he is just being Cole Whitt.
“Anyone that is going to be inducted in the Hall of Fame is going to be someone that I look up to for sure,” Whitt said. “I look up to all of them.”
“But at the end of the day, you have to have your own style and your own way of doing things,” Whitt continued. “I’m really just pushing my own road and doing things the way I need to do them for myself.”
“Cole Whitt is going to be who Cole Whitt is.”
Right now Cole Whitt is currently the youngest points leader ever in the Truck Series. After his second consecutive top-three finish, the driver of the No. 60 Red Bull/ Fuel Doctor race truck leads veteran Johnny Sauter by a mere point.
“It’s pretty amazing to think we did it, especially where the team has come from the beginning of the year,” Whitt said. “We really didn’t have that great of a Daytona outing but the team really turned things around.”
“To come this far into the season and already grab the points lead, it’s been pretty cool,” Whitt said. “The team has really come together and things are clicking really well. It’s awesome to see this team come as far as we have.”
While Cole Whitt preaches just being who he is, the young driver also credits his success solely with his race team. For him, the team is his main motivating source.
“I think it’s just a matter of having a lot of good people,” Whitt said. “We’re not a big team, which makes it tough. But at the same time it’s easy to keep everyone on the same page.”
“I try to keep the guys really motivated,” Whitt continued. “I’m at the shop every day and I try to put in as many hours as they do and work hard with them.”
“I think the main thing is trying to keep everyone having fun,” Whitt said. “At the same time, we care about it a lot. When we don’t run good, we’re upset. But at the same time, we push each other to be better.”
Whitt realizes that his team, with owner Stacy Compton, is one of those small team ‘Davids’ fighting some of the ‘Goliaths’ of the sport.
“Stacy’s team has never been one of the biggest teams or one of the teams that is looked to as the one to beat but we’re trying to be that team,” Whitt said. “When everyone shows up at the track, we want them to say ‘We want to beat that team.’
Whitt knows that it is just a matter of time until he and his team win a race this season. He currently is the only Truck Series driver to complete all 1,134 laps for the season, with five top-10s, finishing no lower than 14th to date.
“So far, we haven’t really been the team to win races but we’ve been so consistent, driving up front,” Whitt said. “I think that win is just really going to come as long as we keep running as good as we have.”
Whitt’s success in the Truck Series has also caught the eyes of others in the sport. He recently was offered the chance to run for Pastrana-Waltrip Racing in their No. 99 Nationwide car at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Memorial Day weekend.
“It came together pretty quick,” Whitt said. “Jay Frye (Red Bull Racing) had been talking to me before about doing some Nationwide stuff and I just wasn’t really sure where it was going to go from there. He called me up and asked if I wanted to do this one weekend deal.”
“I’m really excited to run for Pastrana-Waltrip Racing and give that 99 car a good run,” Whitt continued. “I’m excited more than anything to go back to a track that I’ve already been on and made laps on where it’s a little more familiar.”
Whitt is also excited to celebrate the Memorial Day holiday at the race track as well as at home, a real treat for any professional stock car driver.
“More than anything, I’m looking forward to getting into that Nationwide car,” Whitt said. “That’s kind of like my celebration I guess you could say.”
“I’m going to hang out around the house more than anything,” Whitt continued. “The best part about Charlotte is sleeping in your own bed.”
While Whitt could not be more excited to take on the new Nationwide ride, he is realistic about his expectations. And that is just another way that the young driver is being true to himself.
“I wouldn’t say I expect anything,” Whitt said. “At the beginning of the season, if you had asked me, I would have never thought we’d be leading the points.”
“Would I have really thought it would be possible? Probably not,” Whitt continued. “But that’s cool. We pushed forward and we have a team that’s better than we expected to be.”
“There’s so much to grasp and I’ve just been absorbing everything that’s been thrown at me,” Whitt said. “I’m so thankful for the chance to learn.”