Cole Whitt Impresses in His JRM Debut Test Session

Because of his first name, the “Days of Thunder” references are often unavoidable for Cole Whitt.

“I get it all the time, especially with these guys (at JR Motorsports),” Whitt said with a laugh.  “It’s OK, I’m used to it.  Pretty much ever since I was young, somebody brings (Days of Thunder references) up.”

Much like the question that surrounded the main character, Cole Trickle, in the 1989 NASCAR-themed film, so too are people asking about 20-year-old Whitt:  Can he drive?  That answer was confirmed this week at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando, Fla.

“Yeah, he can drive.  Everybody was impressed with him,” said crew chief Tony Eury Sr.  “He had plenty of speed right off the get-go.  He didn’t have any comfort problems as far as getting up to speed.”

Whitt tested two cars that will be part of his fleet for the No. 88 this year.  One of them was a brand new car that could find track time at Phoenix and Richmond.  The other was the pole-winning car driven by Aric Almirola at Phoenix last year.   But for Whitt, getting acclimated to his new team was just as important as getting acclimated to the cars that he’ll drive.

“It took a little while to get our language down between Pops (Eury Sr.) and me, but I think it went pretty good,” Whitt said.  “I like the way Pops makes changes, and the main thing is we have speed already.  That’s usually the hard thing to get right out of the box, but we have it.  We just need to put it to use.  I look forward to working with these guys this year.  I’m ready to get back to the track.”

And yes, the Days of Thunder references will continue.

“It’s too hard to resist,” chuckled Tony Eury Jr., crew chief for Whitt’s teammate Danica Patrick.  “We told him, ‘Cole, we have a real good set of matched tires on it, matched perfect and staggered special!’”