Rookie Cole Whitt had his work cut out for him from the get-go Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway.
Starting 30th in a 36-truck race is no easy task, considering the front-runners are free, clear and turning 16-second laps. They’re there, on your rear tailgate, before you know it. But Whitt used a three-wide move at the start and quickly picked up a handful of positions to provide a bit of a buffer.
From there, Whitt moved into the top 15 as various strategies played out during early-race cautions — a few of which forced Whitt to take evasive maneuvers. Whitt pitted his Turn One Racing No. 60 truck for the only time on lap 51 and stayed within striking distance of the top 15. He ended up 12th at the checkered flag, improving 18 positions from where he started.
“After qualifying so bad, we were worried about getting lapped really quick — being stuck back there behind slow trucks and your day is kind of done early,” said Whitt, who paced opening practice in his first visit to Bristol. “I just kind of kept rolling the top until it fanned out. That got us to about mid-pack. There was a string of cautions as the race went on and different strategies played out.
“When we did pit, we were the only truck really to come. Then later, some trucks came and got fresh tires. We were the last truck holding off on old tires. That was hard. Seems like rookie luck couldn’t get any worse when we were trying to do something right.”
Whitt remained fifth in the driver standings. He’s 42 points behind leader Johnny Sauter and 13 behind fourth-place Austin Dillon.
Red Bull Racing PR