The first time Cole Whitt raced at Kentucky Speedway, he was sideswiped by Ron Hornaday Jr., lost the third position and finished 26th. This time, Whitt ran a clean race and finished eighth for the 10th top 10 of his rookie NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season.
It was a cold and fast Kentucky 225. The air temperature at the start of the race was 48 degrees, the track temp a cool 53 — which made for furious pace around the 1.5-mile oval.
“A really fast night because it was cool,” Whitt said. “We were running faster times in the race as opposed to qualifying. We were fast, the track was fast — everyone was fast.”
Indeed. Only six cars were on the lead lap at the finish, mostly because the race went green for the final 61 laps.
After starting 10th, Whitt ran in the top five — or close to it — for the first half of the race. Then a myriad of strategies began to play out. Whitt pitted his Turn One Racing No. 60 under the seventh and final caution flag between laps 87-89, then pitted again under green late in the race.
“The race went green to the end, and a lot of people were on different strategies,” Whitt said. “Some guys got caught on pit road. Some guys started running out of fuel. Just kind of a melee at the end.”
“But we were really fast, had a great truck. It handled well, as good as I can ask for. We could hold our own in the corners.”
With five races remaining in the 2011 season, Whitt improved to seventh the driver standings — two points out of sixth, but 30 out of fifth.
Follow Red Bull Racing Team on Twitter: @RedBullNASCAR.