First came the beat from Jason White, and then the bang from Nelson Piquet Jr. Together, they knocked Cole Whitt out of contention at Martinsville Speedway.
The 20-year-old Whitt qualified 19th earlier Saturday and jumped into the top 10 courtesy of a two-tire stop under the first caution. Seven laps later, White’s No. 23 nearly turned around Whitt’s No. 60 truck exiting turn four. Whitt skated sideways, somehow kept it straight and continued on.
As Whitt exited turns one and two at the other end of the track, Piquet’s No. 8 drifted up from the inside lane and sent Whitt spinning. His truck sat motionless — rear end first — for a moment before retreating to pit road for left-front repairs. As the field quickly circled around NASCAR’s shortest track, Whitt went from ninth to three laps down in 34th.
"The 23 ruined it and the 8 finished us off.”
And that’s how the rookie’s chilly, but finally sunny, afternoon went in southern Virginia. He was outside the top 30 for much of the race before finishing 27th — only his fourth finish outside the top 20 in the season’s 23 races.
“Just Martinsville, I guess,” Whitt said. “We had a good truck. We were really fast. We were fast even with it torn up trying to come back up through the field, just kind of riding around out there three laps down. We could drive through the field before every caution. There’s nothing you can really do. The 23 basically ruined it. We never should have been back there with the 8. Yeah, the 23 ruined it and the 8 finished us off.”
Whitt dropped two positions in the driver standings to ninth. With two races remaining, he’s four points behind eighth-place Joey Coulter and five behind Matt Crafton in seventh.
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