Ever drive a race car? On a short track? With cars here, there and everywhere? All while your nose and hood are mashed in to where you can barely see? Cole Whitt did on Friday night.
Driver No. 84 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East finished fifth at Lee USA Speedway after the front end of his Red Bull Toyota took a shot in a classic short-track check-up just before halfway. Whitt relied on instinct and spotter Jeremy Thompson to score the fourth top-five and fifth top-10 finish of his rookie NASCAR season.
"We had a car to win, but the nose got pushed in," Whitt said. "Cosmetic stuff, but it pushed the hood up to where I couldn't see out of the front of the car. I just kept going, looked out the sides. Just kind of kept rolling the rest of the race.
"We would have been lost if we came down pit road to fix the damage." -Cole
"You rely a lot more on your spotter. He let me know everything that was going on around me. We just kept going. We would have been lost if we came down pit road to fix the damage, trying to come back through the field. We were already up there and couldn't give up the track position."
Whitt started 11th - the first time in the season's seven races that the No. 84 didn't roll off from inside the top eight. That starting position slowed the two-time pole winner's charge to the front in a short, 125-lap race.
"Our qualifying run went just OK," Whitt said. "Not real happy with it, but we had good faith in the race and had time for me to work up there. A lot of beating and banging. As the race played out, we were fighting, coming good… even passing on the outside."
With three races remaining, Whitt ranks fourth in the championship – 56 points out of third and 156 out of first. The K&N Pro Series East is off until the Aug. 28 race at Gresham Motorsports Park, where the No. 84 team has an upcoming test session.