It’s hard enough to survive a weekend on the Strip. It’s even harder, if Saturday was any indication, to survive a Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
But Cole Whitt did, steering clear of 10 caution flags to finish eighth in the Smith’s 300. It was the 11th top 10 of Whitt’s rookie Truck Series season.
“The best way to say it is that we just didn’t have the speed we really needed to run in the top five,” Whitt said.
Speed no. Skill yes.
Early in the race, Ricky Carmichael’s No. 4 went spinning and collected a handful of trucks in turn one to bring out a red flag. The tailgate of Whitt’s No. 60 truck squeezed past as Carmichael drifted back up the track, but it was a nifty move that took Whitt from his 12th-place starting position and into the top five.
After the final pit stop with 37 laps to go — when Turn One Racing put on a mixed set of new and old tires — Whitt noted his truck wasn’t handling particularly well. Then with seven laps to go, Whitt admittedly tapped the No. 32 of Blake Feese. He took evasive maneuvers as smoke filled his windshield and escaped unscathed — barely.
"There was definitely a sense of survival, and it played into that kind of race.”
“I got into the 32. My truck was really wicked,” Whitt said. “I accidentally got into him, spun him out. But that was just one of a lot of wrecks. It was a hot race track. Lots of trucks were greasy. There was definitely a sense of survival, and it played into that kind of race.”
All totaled, 16 of 36 trucks were involved in the 10 caution flags. And only nine trucks were on the lead lap when race winner Ron Hornaday Jr. crossed the finish line.
Whitt slipped a position in the driver standings to eighth — three points behind seventh-place Todd Bodine, five behind sixth-place Matt Crafton and 38 behind Timothy Peters in fifth. Four races remain in the 2011 season.
“Nothing’s really important to me other than winning races and a championship,” Whitt said. “The championship seems to be difficult, but all I want to do is win a race by the end of the year.”
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