Whitt at Road America in 2013
June 22, 1991 |
|Achievements||2008 USAC National Midget Champion|
|Awards||2006 Hoosier Sprint Car Rookie of The Year
2010 USAC Super License Award
|NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career|
|110 races run over 6 years|
|Car no., team||No. 98/55 (Premium Motorsports)|
|Best finish||31st (2014, 2015)|
|First race||2011 Kobalt Tools 500 (Phoenix)|
|Last race||2016 Bad Boy Off Road 300 (Loudon)|
|NASCAR Xfinity Series career|
|51 races run over 4 years|
|Best finish||7th (2012)|
|First race||2010 WYPALL 200 (Phoenix)|
|Last race||2013 Ford EcoBoost 300 (Homestead)|
|NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career|
|27 races run over 3 years|
|Best finish||9th (2011)|
|First race||2010 Ford 200 (Homestead)|
|Last race||2012 Fred's 250 (Talladega)|
|Statistics current as of September 25, 2016.|
Cole Whitt (born June 22, 1991) is an American professional stock car racing driver. After advancing his way through Kart racing, Whitt moved up to sprint cars and became a development driver for Red Bull. After running in the Camping World Series East, Whitt made his NASCAR debut in 2010. The younger cousin of Brandon Whitt, he currently competes part-time in the Sprint Cup Series, driving the No. 98 Toyota Camry and Chevrolet SS for Premium Motorsports. He is nicknamed "The Ginger Lion" due to his ferocity behind the wheel of race-cars.
Cole Whitt, born to Tobin and Kim Whitt, was inspired to race when he saw one of his cousins with a go-kart. After winning championships in go-karts, Whitt moved up to sprint cars in 2004. Whitt was quickly noticed by Red Bull and was in the semifinals for Red Bull's driver development search. After winning the Hoosier Sprint Rookie of the Year award in 2006, Whitt traveled around the United States the next year, running 60 races and gaining top tens in 34 of those starts. To continue his racing career, Whitt and his mother moved to Lebanon, Indiana. In 2008 Whitt became the youngest winner of the USAC National Midget Championship, while winning the Hut Hundred. The next year Whitt raced in Silver Crown, Sprints, and Midgets, earning 17 wins driving for Keith Kunz.
Whitt moved up to stock cars in 2010, the same year he won the Super License award for USAC. Whitt ran for the Camping World East Series championship, where he impressed by winning the pole in his first start at Greenville-Pickens Speedway. Whitt eventually finished fourth in points. Whitt was rewarded with making his Nationwide Series debut at Phoenix International Raceway, where he made the race and finished 15th. The next week, Whitt ran both the Nationwide and Truck Series events at Homestead-Miami Speedway, finishing 17th and 28th respectively, running the Truck race for Turn One Racing. Whitt drove for Turn One in 2011 and competed for Rookie of the Year honors. After failing to qualify in the No. 60 truck at Daytona, Whitt drove the No. 93 for RSS Racing before returning to Turn One. Whitt won the pole at Darlington, and became the first rookie to lead the Truck Series points after Charlotte, winding up ninth in points at the end of the season. He also drove a third Red Bull Racing Team entry in the Sprint Cup Series in the final two races of the season at Phoenix International Raceway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, but ended Homestead with a DNF near the finish of the race.
With the closing of Red Bull's racing program after the 2011 season, Whitt signed a contract with JR Motorsports to drive that team's #88 Chevrolet in the Nationwide Series in 2012, competing for Rookie of the Year honors. He also competed on a start and park basis in the Sprint Cup Series in selected races for Turn One Racing and Circle Sport. At the October Talladega race, Whitt was running in the top 15 before a crash involving Carl Edwards and Joey Logano took out Whitt on lap 17.
In 2013, Whitt and JR Motorsports parted ways with the team citing lack of sponsorship. He later joined forces with Tri-Star Motorsports, driving their #44 Nationwide entry from Dover onward. He earned his first top-ten of the year with an eighth-place finish at Road America. Late in the season, he ran seven Sprint Cup races with Swan Racing Company as a replacement for David Stremme. The team then hired him for the full 2014 season, placing him in their new second team, the #26.
During 2014 Daytona 500 practice, Whitt's car had debris hit the nose, and without a backup car due to teammate Parker Kligerman's crash during the session, Whitt's team was forced to make repairs, and he also did not have a provisional to lock him into the race. In the Budweiser Duels, Whitt's transfer into the 500 varied, but gained eight spots in the final five laps to finish 11th and qualify. When asked about the Duel, Whitt stated, "It was a hard way to do it, being out and back in with just a lap or so to go. I didn't know if I was in when I crossed the finish line. It was a nail biter, for sure." In the Daytona 500, Whitt ran as high as fourth, but ran out of fuel, and was later down two laps. However, Whitt eventually returned onto the lead lap, but was involved in a crash with seven laps remaining. Whitt finished 28th in the race.
Due to Swan Racing's restructuring, Whitt's future with the team was left in doubt, and on April 21, a representative from FUEL Sports Management Group announced that Whitt did not have a ride for the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond. However, Swan minority partner Anthony Marlowe stated his intent to run with Whitt for the remainder of the 2014 season. Days later the 26 team was acquired by the former Swan co-owner and he merged his ownership into BK Racing, with Whitt remaining behind the wheel. The team debuted at Richmond for the Toyota Owners 400 under the BK Racing flag and maintained all accumulated 2014 driver and owner points.
At Daytona in the Coke Zero 400, Whitt was caught up into a multi-car pileup and he t-boned Kyle Busch throwing Busch onto his roof. At Watkins Glen in the Cheez-It 355 at The Glen, Whitt crashed early in the race when his car drove straight into a tire barrier in turn 1 in an accident that loosely resembled Jimmie Johnson's infamous crash at the same spot in 2000. Whitt climbed out mostly unscathed. Whitt led his first lap in Sprint Cup competition under caution in the GEICO 500 at Talladega. He would ultimately hang on for his career-best finish of 15th.
At the end of the season, in which he finished 31st in points, BK Racing owners Ron Devine and Anthony Marlowe announced that Whitt would not return to BK Racing in 2015. It was then rumored that he had left the team so he could replace David Ragan in the No. 34 Ford for Front Row Motorsports. Marlowe then sent a Tweet congratulating Whitt for getting the ride with the team. However, less than 24 hours later, Front Row Motorsports spokesperson Shari Spiewak squashed that announcement by stating that it was false and that they denied that Whitt was replacing Ragan at Front Row and that they are working to get Ragan and teammate David Gilliland contract extensions with them, leaving many including Ragan puzzled about what Marlowe was thinking. Marlowe later apologized to Ragan and the team about his inadvertent tweet in an interview with MotorSportsTalk, although he still insisted Whitt was headed to Front Row in some capacity. Whitt would eventually announce that he had left BK Racing.
Later, on January 16, 2015, Front Row announced that Whitt would join the team, in the No. 35 Ford, the third full-time team car. Speed Stick GEAR, who had sponsored him for four races at Swan and seven at BK, followed him to Front Row in a ten-race deal, along with Rinnai Tankless Water Heaters for an undisclosed number of races. Whitt finished the year 31st in points for the second straight year, while improving his career best finish to 13th in the GEICO 500 at Talladega. FRM shut down the No. 35 car leaving Whitt with no ride in 2016.
Whitt moved to Premium Motorsports in 2016, driving the No. 98 with sponsorship from RTIC coolers, Spead Stick, and Rianni among others. While racing Michael McDowell in his Can-Am Duel race, Whitt spun and broke his transmission, which caused him to miss the Daytona 500 after qualifying the previous two years. Whitt finished a 26th place at Fontana on an unfunded team. At Talledega, Whitt avoided massive crashes contending a top 10 finish, but was involved in the last lap finishing a season best 18th. On the series' return to Daytona, Whitt was able to avoid major crash involvement and crossed the line 11th, a new career best, and Jay Robinson's best finish as a Sprint Cup owner.
Motorsports career results
(key) (Bold – Pole position awarded by qualifying time. Italics – Pole position earned by points standings or practice time. * – Most laps led.)
Sprint Cup Series
|2015||Front Row Motorsports||Ford||19||22|
Camping World Truck Series
|NASCAR Camping World Truck Series results|
|2010||Turn One Racing||60||Chevy||DAY||ATL||MAR||NSH||KAN||DOV||CLT||TEX||MCH||IOW||GTY||IRP||POC||NSH||DAR||BRI||CHI||KEN||NHA||LVS||MAR||TAL||TEX||PHO||HOM
* Season still in progress
1 Ineligible for series points
- Fryer, Brit (November 19, 2011). "Cole Whitt 22nd in NASCAR Truck Series season finale at Homestead". Red Bull USA. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- "Kangaroo Express Sponsors NASCAR's No. 84 Cole Whitt". Convenience Store Decisions. Rocky River, Ohio: Harbor Communications. November 21, 2011. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
- Spencer, Lee (January 4, 2012). "Whitt joins JR Motorsports in Nationwide". Fox Sports. Retrieved January 4, 2012.
- "Whitt, Kligerman to drive for Swan Racing in 2013". NASCAR.com. December 3, 2013. Retrieved December 3, 2013.
- Swan Racing (January 7, 2014). "Swan Racing Announces 2014 Season Updates". Retrieved January 7, 2014.
- Center, Bill (February 28, 2014). "Crashes don't diminish Whitt's Daytona debut". U-T San Diego. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- Bianchi, Jordan (February 21, 2014). "2014 Daytona 500: Mixed emotions as some drivers make Daytona 500, others don't". SB Nation. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- Pearce, Al (February 21, 2014). "NASCAR Sprint Cup rookies looking for more success after qualifying for Daytona 500". Autoweek. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- "2014 Daytona 500". Racing-Reference. Retrieved March 10, 2014.
- Pockrass, Bob (April 21, 2014). "Cole Whitt looks for ride as Swan Racing future in limbo". Sporting News. Retrieved April 22, 2014.
- Caraviello, David (April 23, 2014). "Swan Breakup Leaves Kligerman Without Ride". NASCAR.com. Retrieved April 23, 2014.
- Bonkowski, Jerry (November 27, 2014). "MST exclusive: BK Racing co-owner Anthony Marlowe apologizes for Cole Whitt/David Ragan tweet controversy". Retrieved January 17, 2015.
- Gluck, Jeff (November 26, 2014). "Cole Whitt won't return to BK Racing in 2015". USA Today. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
- Whitt joins Front Row Motorsports, motorsport.com, January 16, 2015
- "COLE WHITT TO DRIVE NO. 98 IN SPRINT CUP SERIES FOR 2016". NASCAR. February 2, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2016.
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