As the transmission in his No. 84 Red Bull Toyota let go Sunday, Cole Whitt was forced to release his stranglehold on the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points lead.
Red Bull Racing Team's development driver seemed destined for another impressive showing in the season's third race at Iowa Speedway, qualifying second overall earlier in the day and leading 31 laps. That was until, on lap 139, Whitt's car slowed in turn three to bring out the race's fifth caution.
The problem proved to be terminal. Whitt and the No. 84 retreated to the garage, where they stayed for the final 62 laps. He finished 38th overall in the Iowa 200 - a combination race that pitted the best from the East and West series against each other in the same event, with championship points being awarded to the respective divisions.
"It's really disappointing for us not to be able to finish a race." -Cole Whitt
"We came to Iowa with such a great car and I really thought we had a chance to win this race," said Whitt, who competed at Iowa once before in a July 2009 USAC sprint car race, finishing seventh.
"My team works so hard, so it's really disappointing for us not to be able to finish a race. All we can do now is focus on bringing a great race car to Martinsville and hope to have more success there."
Based on finishes of third and second in the season's first two events, Whitt carried a 25-point lead into Iowa, but he left the .875-mile track outside of Des Moines fourth in the East championship - 22 points behind leader and race winner Max Gresham.
Because he finished 22nd among the East drivers at Iowa, Whitt was credited with 22nd-place points (102). He was also the highest qualifier from the East, thus earning his second pole of the season.
Up next is the UNOH Performance 200 on Sunday, June 6, in Martinsville, Virginia.