Thursday, February 20, 2014

Cole Whitt is “GEAR’d” up
for the #NASCAR Daytona 500

One of this year’s Sprint Cup ‘Rookie of the Year’ candidates, Cole Whitt, is a hometown boy. He was born and raised in Alpine, California. NASCAR Race Mom has been following him since he first sat behind the wheel of a go-kart. As a youngster, Whitt was an advocate for the El Cajon Lions, Tigers & Bears (LTB) organization. It was impressive that one so young could work towards such an honorable pursuit. 

The #26 of NASCAR Sprint Cup ‘Rookie of the Year’ candidate Cole Whitt

After winning championships in go-karts, Whitt moved up to sprint cars in 2004. In just ten short years and at the age of twenty-two, Whitt is one of the talented group of rookie racers competing in their first full-season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Of that group, Cole Whitt has the most Cup experience with 14 starts since 2012. (includes four “DNQ's” and five “Start-and-Parks”)

Last week, the Speed Stick GEAR team announced a new partnership with Cole Whitt. As part of this new partnership, Speed Stick GEAR has proudly become the primary sponsor of Whitt's No. 26 car for Swan Racing during the 2014 Daytona 500.

Additionally, Speed Stick GEAR is filming a documentary series that will chronicle Whitt's preparation and in-car experience leading up to this year's Great American Race - the Daytona 500. Beginning March 2014, that documentary series can be viewed on the SpeedStick YouTube channel. (

Today, Cole Whitt will attempt to put aside his misfortune* during the first Daytona 500 practice run to race his way into one of the most important and prestigious races on the NASCAR Calendar – the NASCAR Daytona 500.

Whitt will need to finish fifteenth or better in the Budweiser Duels – Race 1 from a field of twenty-five. NASCAR Race Mom thanks Cole Whitt for taking a few minutes out of his hectic schedule to answer a few questions.

NASCAR Raced Mom: What is your major focus for your first full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Season?

Cole Whitt: We want to win Rookie of the Year. If we can do that, that would be amazing. But at the same time, I think that growing with the team is going to be more important than anything; over time, just becoming better and watching the team go from a top thirty-five team to a top twenty-five team is what I look most forward to doing.

We are a small team and we are trying to taking on some very big competition. I would not like to do that with any other people. Team owner Brandon Davis has been great to us. He has helped straighten out a few things and put us in the right perspective. He always keeps me upbeat and helps me stay professional in what I do. I’m pretty excited about what we got coming up. I am really confident in my guys and we have Speed Stick on board.

NASCAR Raced Mom: 2014 should prove to be a difficult season for the ‘Rookie of the Year’ candidates. So many qualified drivers will be sporting that yellow stripe on their bumper.

Cole Whitt: They say that it is one of the most talented group in years. Part of that is a bit of an honor in itself, for people to think that way. We definitely think that we have a shot at it.

NASCAR Raced Mom: How have you prepared yourself, both physically and mentally, to tackle the challenge?

Cole Whitt: I think I have covered myself by doing intense workouts; lots of cross fit type of workouts. I try to keep myself in the best shape physically as possible. I believe that helps mental prepare you as well.

NASCAR Raced Mom: Does an incident like yesterday’s “oops” during practice effect you mentally at all?

Cole Whitt: No, not really except that I would have like to have gotten more practice obviously and more time on the race track. But you cannot control some things and getting a flat tire had nothing to do with our team or anything we did; it was just unlucky. Fortunately, the car is ready for the duel and we are going to be just as good as we were.

NASCAR Raced Mom: Have you done any restrictor plate racing?

Cole Whitt: Just with the Nationwide stuff. I ran the Cup race at Talladega last year and got some really good experience and will hopefully be able to put that to use. In the Nationwide and Truck series that I came through, I did some Daytona races there. I have different experience at different levels, but nothing to this stature. Daytona is definitely the biggest race of my career and also our biggest race of the year.

NASCAR Raced Mom: You and teammate Parker Kligerman are both in the first duel race tonight. Is that a good thing or bad thing?

Cole Whitt: I think that is definitely a good thing. If we can get together, that is going to be great. If we get that opportunity, we will get together and do whatever we can. Not sure we will get that chance. After yesterday . . . . nothing is for sure in NASCAR.

NASCAR Raced Mom: As the mom of a racer, I know that watching your son compete on the track can be very nerve racking. How does your mother handle that stress?

Cole Whitt: I don’t know but she does really good. I don’t know how to describe her other than she is a saint. She has done a lot for me; my whole family has made sacrifices for me. For it to pay off and for me to get this far and be able to run the Daytona 500 is pretty amazing. It is huge for my family. My Mom and Dad are down here. It is pretty special just to have that.

NASCAR Raced Mom: Do you have anything you would like to add?

Cole Whitt: Yes, one thing that I want to add . . . there is a documentary being done with Speed Stick GEAR which will be on the Speed Stick YouTube Channel. It will have behind the scene stuff that covers a lot of personal stuff with me. You will learn a lot about me, more than just interview questions. It will cover all that I had to go through during the week before the biggest race of my career. I think that it will be a pretty cool piece!

NASCAR Race Mom enjoyed her interview with young NASCAR ‘up-and-coming’ Cole Whitt. He proved to be articulate and very pleasant. NASCAR Race Mom is glad that Cole mentioned the Speed Stick GEAR Documentary. Personally, I cannot wait to see it and hopefully post some of it on this blog.

The Daytona 500 will take place on Sunday, February 23, 2014 and is televised nationwide. You can watch the Cole race in the qualifying race of 60 laps, or 150 miles, tonight. These races will air on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 7:00 pm ET. Green flag start time for Cole Whitt’s race is set for: 7:19 pm ET.

* Four laps into Wednesday afternoon's practice session, Whitt scraped the outside wall after a piece of debris punctured the nose of his No. 26 Swan Racing Toyota. In an attempt to avoid Whitt's car, Brian Vickers collected Casey Mears' Chevrolet and shot nose-first into the outside wall, NASCAR Wire Service reports.

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