Whitmore solid in ARCA RE/MAX Series debut Salem, IN (Wednesday, September 17th, 2003) - - ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Brett Whitmore wasn't sure what to expect when he arrived at Salem Speedway on Saturday, but his confidence was high, thanks ...
Whitmore solid in ARCA RE/MAX Series debut
Salem, IN (Wednesday, September 17th, 2003) - - ARCA RE/MAX Series rookie Brett Whitmore wasn't sure what to expect when he arrived at Salem Speedway on Saturday, but his confidence was high, thanks largely to his team led by ARCA RE/MAX Series owner/driver James "Harvey" Hylton.
"We came down here earlier this weekend, before the rest of the team's arrived, so I could see the track for my own eyes with nobody around, and it blew me away," said Brett. "I had all the faith in the team, I was just hoping that they were going to have faith in me," he continued.
The ARCA RE/MAX Series entered Salem Speedway for the final time in 2003 Saturday, under bright blue skies, and the team quickly beginning to work on their machines. Practice, Qualifying, and Race were all on tap for the day.
The first and only practice session for the teams began shortly after 1:00pm. Under advisement from owner Hylton, Brett was told to get a feel for the racecar and most importantly gain some seat time. In the session, the Liberty, TWP Ohio native posted the 35th fastest lap in the unsponsored Hylton Motorsports Ford Taurus.
Whitmore was able to maneuver his machine around the track in 20.597 seconds amounting to a speed of 97.004 MPH. "Obviously, we didn't set a track record with that lap, but we were more concerned with getting some time on the track, and find a grove that I was comfortable in," said, Whitmore who resides in North Carolina.
The team opted to make a smart move and skip qualifying and adjust the No. 48 Ford Taurus to Whitmore's driving style, in which they felt would be beneficial for the race.
Using a provisional, Brett Whitmore would line up 30th for his ARCA RE/MAX Series debut.
"As a team we felt it was in our best interest to forgo qualifying and concentrate on the race, the team has spent countless of hours preparing this car all week, so I was not going to disagree with what they suggested," commented Brett.
The green flag waved for the Eddie Gilstrap Motors Fall Classic 200 shortly after 8:15 PM, EST with Whitmore using patient while trying to get through the opening laps.
It would not take long for the leaders, Frank Kimmel, Brian Ross, and Shelby Howard to capture the tail end of the ARCA field, putting Brett, among many others a lap down approaching lap 25. A caution-nearing lap 30 would fly, leaving Whitmore a chance to catch his breath, and explain to the team how the car was reacting. Both car owner James Hylton and spotter Patrick Register reminded their driver to use patience, and let the fastest machines by.
The series returned to green flag racing, a few laps later, but when again fly nearing lap 50, as the Whitmore entered turn one too hard, and would loop his Ford Taurus around.
It would turn out to be an innocent spin by the rookie driver, as he was able to avoid the wall and oncoming cars. "That spin was my fault, 100%, I guess I was trying to hard," he said following the race.
The JHM (James Hylton Motorsports) was able to take a good look at their machine under the caution and felt it was not necessary to bring the No. 48 to pit road, but telling their driver to go get 'em again.
While Whitmore was never a factor for the race win, the 29 year old spent much of his race learning. From passing, to changing lines, to working with other drivers, he knew his job was to gain as much time seat time as possible, learn, and bring the car to the garage in one piece.
While the driver had several close calls on the track, he was able to avoid the crash filled event and cross the line 21st. The race was originally scheduled for 200 laps, but a late race caution would bunch up the field and force a green-white-checkered finishing, giving hometown native Shelby Howard his third ARCA RE/MAX Series win. Third generation driver Jason Jarrett finished second, youngster Justin Allgaier collected his career best finish of third, while pole sitter Brian Ross, and Randy VanZant rounded out the top five.
"I'm happy," said Brett, climbing from his machine "We weren't involved in any of the major accidents, I learned a lot and I had my crew and spotter guide me to the finish, I'm thrilled," he exclaimed.
"I have to give a huge thanks to this James Hylton Motorsports team, not only for their guidance, but again their faith in me. James Hylton is a remarkable guy, and I am honored that I can say that I have drove from him," Whitmore boasted.
"In the end Salem Speedway is an incredible place, unlike any other track I have experienced in my life time, and I'm just happy knowing that we're going home with a solid finish in the books."
For Brett, he is looking at potentially running the final race of the 2003 ARCA RE/MAX Series event from Lowes Motor Speedway, however that would only be accomplished if sponsorship fell into place. "We're doing some heavy duty negotiating with potential sponsors not only for Lowes but also for the full 2004 ARCA RE/MAX Series, as we want to make a bid for Rookie of the Year, at this point we're staying very optimistic."