Homestead: Brandon Whitt preview

'Qualifying is crucial for Homestead' No team has been a stronger qualifier the past couple of months than the Red Horse Racing team of driver Brandon Whitt, and the ...

'Qualifying is crucial for Homestead'

No team has been a stronger qualifier the past couple of months than the Red Horse Racing team of driver Brandon Whitt, and the #38 DW Boogity Grill Tundra. They will carry that streak to Homestead-Miami Speedway this week for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series finale, Friday night at the 1.5-mile track.

Whitt has qualified in the top eight in 13 of the last 14 races, and the top five in seven of the last 14. That includes two poles -- such as last week's at Phoenix.

The sophomore driver from El Cajon, Calif., Whitt scored his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series victory at Memphis Motorsports Park in July, becoming the first to do so from the Rookie Class of 2004. Known for his penchant of being fast and loving speed, Whitt is considered one of the top up-and-coming young drivers in stock car racing. His truck his owned by Red Horse Racing, which consists of general manager Marty Gaunt, a winning veteran leader of motorsports teams; Jeff Hammond, a NASCAR Nextel Cup championship crew chief now serving as an analyst for FOX Sports; and Tom DeLoach, a former Mobil Corp. executive who, with Hammond, owns and operates PIT Instruction and Training LLC, the number one pit crew training center in the world.

This will be the fifth race Ameritrax, Lawry's and The DW Boogity Grill -- named after NASCAR champion Darrell Waltrip and his coined, "Boogity, boogity, boogity" phrase -- have sponsored a racing vehicle.

The thoughts of DW Boogity Grill Toyota Tundra driver Brandon Whitt heading into Homestead:

"Winning poles obviously doesn't guarantee you a winning truck but, at least in our case, we're batting .500 right now (Whitt has two poles this season, winning at Memphis, Tenn., from the pole).

"Whoever wins the pole at Homestead isn't going to get a lot of time to enjoy it. With our schedule this year and so many one-day shows, you qualify and race on the same day. You spend a few hours on the front row, then they drop the green flag and everything changes.

"Still, I'd rather start up front than anywhere else. Sure, you can win from the outside pole or 20th or wherever, but the pole is still the best place to be. First of all, you start in front of everybody else. That's 35 other trucks you don't have to worry about passing, at least for awhile. Then you add in the fact you get to pick your pit position before anyone else -- that is really important too.

"I think there is something of a momentum factor too. Everybody knows you have a good truck, and they know you are one of the ones they have to beat. That also pumps your crew up a good bit.

"There isn't a secret to winning poles or qualifying well, whether it is at Homestead or anywhere else. Basically, everything has to be just right. There isn't any such thing as perfect but whoever wins the pole at Homestead will be about as close to perfect as you can get. You have to have a really strong engine, the chassis has to be just right, the truck has to be strong aerodynamically, and the driver has to do his job. If you do all of those four things right, then you are going to be near the front. Throw in a little bit of luck, and you might have a pole.

"You know when you have a good qualifying lap going, and you really can feel it at Homestead. Sure, the difference can be a tenth of a second, but a driver can feel that difference. You might not know whether you won the pole or not until the crew chief tells you over the radio, but you know if you are close. And that's an awfully good feeling.

"Qualifying is going to be crucial for the Truck race at Homestead. Starting up front is going to be really important, and a good pit position is going to be crucial. We want to get that great qualifying run in this DW Boogity Grill Tundra Friday afternoon, then close the deal Friday night."

-dwr-

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Series NASCAR-TRUCK