No. 84 driver Cole Whitt, coming off a fifth-place finish July 30 at Lee USA Speedway, ranks fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship entering Saturday night's race at Gresham Motorsports Park.
The layoff since the last race gave us some time to catch up with Cole, so here’s a little Q&A for your reading pleasure...
There are three races left in the year; rate your season so far.
We've done pretty well this year. Things seemed to be rolling well and we were running top five. The whole DNF deal killed us at Iowa in the third race, and New Hampshire killed a little bit of the momentum we had… I think we’ll be fine at Gresham. We got a test in there (Aug. 10) but unfortunately had a tire go down and had a little more work to do, but all in all the test went well and our car was fast. Going into this race everyone here seems to be more excited than going to any track. I think we will have a good chance to win it.
"Sometimes I don't get to sleep because I'm so excited to go racing." -Cole
You are fourth in points with three races to go. Are you done with points racing and just going for wins?
I don't really look at the points right now. I don't even know how far back we are (156 points off the lead). I'm not even worried about the championship. Going into the season, that was our first goal but reaching that right now probably isn't realistic. We will keep going for wins, and we will do everything we can to collect some. We want to go to every race and be first in practice and on the pole for qualifying and win the race - that's our goal. If we can do that then the points race will take care of itself.
What have you been doing in the 3-4 weeks since the last race?
I've been trying to keep busy at the shop. It takes forever between races and I just chomp at the bit to go racing, for sure. Sometimes I don't get to sleep because I'm so excited to go racing and it sucks that we don't get to go every weekend. You try to keep yourself busy and find some type of fix for how bad you want to race.
You're a video gamer - what's your favorite game?
Call of Duty. That's pretty much the only game I play.
Are you one of those guys who will sit there and play into the early hours of the morning?
I play for a while but I'm off of it pretty early. I don't normally play late at night.
You've been in North Carolina for a year now; what kind of food have you started eating around here?
A lot of steak and potatoes recently.
Was college ever on the board when you were mapping out your future, or was it just racing for you?
It was pretty much just racing. I never really thought about trying to go to college. I really wanted to get through high school just so I could get out. I didn't really enjoy school; I did it so I could get to the race track because mom was making me do it.
Are you much of a sports fan?
The only one I really pay attention to is football. I like college football more than I like the NFL. I'm a big fan of the San Diego Chargers, but they don't give you much to cheer about.
Favorite thing to do around the shop?
I like getting a car back from paint and body and starting to assemble it. These guys know what they're doing and I've learned a lot from them. I think when you get a car that's fresh from paint and you start putting it together you feel like you're putting a winning piece together.
Do you get excited when you get a brand new race car?
Definitely. Sometimes when we put stuff together it looks like all the other ones, but then other times you get a feeling – I don't know what it is. You know when everything goes together right that it's alive and it just wants to race so you get excited to drive it.
What do you dread doing around the shop?
It's all pretty cool. The week leading up to the race is probably the hardest part and my least favorite because it seems to go so slow.
Of the tracks on the K&N East schedule, what is your favorite?
The big tracks with banking are a lot of fun. Iowa is a lot more fun than New Hampshire. It has so much banking you can roll with so much momentum and run a few different lines. So far Iowa has been the most fun, but I'm really looking forward to Dover. That should be exciting.
Would you rather be a "bottom feeder" or have a car that likes the high side?
Wherever there isn't anyone in front of me.
Talk about the communication with you and crew chief Randy Cox. How has it evolved since the beginning of the season?
I don't really think it's changed much. I think we hit it off pretty good on day one. We’re all real comfortable with each other and we can tell each other anything at the race track. Whatever is going on we can figure it out and get the car right.
Any funny stories from the road with your crew?
Craig (Smokstad) likes to do these bottle bombs. He takes an empty water bottle and tapes it to the end of an air hose. When someone walks buy he'll turn the air on and it will blow up. It makes such a loud noise it will about blow your eardrums out. It’s a good laugh when you get someone who jumps.