Brandon Whitt retains Rookie of the Year lead after rough race at Mesa Marin. July 7, 2002, El Cajon, CA: Nineteen year-old stock car racer Brandon Whitt left Mesa Marin Raceway on Saturday with his Rookie-of-the-Year lead intact, although his...
Brandon Whitt retains Rookie of the Year lead after rough race at Mesa Marin.
July 7, 2002, El Cajon, CA: Nineteen year-old stock car racer Brandon Whitt left Mesa Marin Raceway on Saturday with his Rookie-of-the-Year lead intact, although his Chevy Monte Carlo was not so lucky. After qualifying seventh, (Brandon's fifth top-ten start of the season), Brandon ran over debris early in the race and had to pit for a new front tire. After losing three laps during the unscheduled pit stop, Brandon returned to the track hoping to salvage as many points as possible. Yet on lap 63 things went from bad to worse, as Brandon's car was hit in the rear quarter panel and spun around by a driver who was later black-flagged. During the spin, Brandon's car was hit by a second car, and he was forced to retire in 26th place.
"We weren't even racing for position," Brandon explained, referring to the first contact that caused his spin. "Had the other driver pulled alongside me on the straightaway, I would have let him pass me, no problem. We have to take care of each other out there, and I was glad to see that the officials took notice and gave him a penalty."
Brandon's DNF was costly in the overall points race, dropping him from ninth to eleventh in the standings. Brandon's sole remaining rival for Rookie-of-the-Year, Steve Belletto, finished twelfth, which narrowed Brandon's lead in rookie points to five. The two California drivers are engaged in a pair of points battles: while Brandon leads Steve 68 to 63 in Rookie Points, Steve now leads Brandon in the overall championship standings, 896 to 882.
"Over the last few races, we seem to be qualifying well, and yet a string of bad luck keeps dropping us back as the race unfolds. All my team and I can do is focus on our original plan, which is to qualify for every race and finish in the top ten. If we can do that, the points will take care of themselves."
After two races in just nine days, the Clean Line crew is looking forward to some rest and relaxation for the holiday weekend. Brandon and his family are planning to attending the San Diego County Fair, which, according to Brandon, features a very cool fireworks display. The next NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series race will take place on July 20th at the Altamont Raceway Park short track.