Sonoma, Calif. (June 24, 2002) Nineteen year old Brandon Whitt of El Cajon, Calif. leads Steve Belletto of Modesto, Calif. in the 2002 Rookie-of-the-Year standings after seven events in the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring division.
Sonoma, Calif. (June 24, 2002) Nineteen year old Brandon Whitt of El Cajon, Calif. leads Steve Belletto of Modesto, Calif. in the 2002 Rookie-of-the-Year standings after seven events in the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring division. Whitt has qualified and finished each of the first seven races and currently sits 9th in the overall championship standings. Whitt has collected three Rookie-of-the-Race awards and has one top-five to his credit. The 19-year old rising star has also completed 708 of the 793 laps run so far this season with an average finish of 16.7.
Joining Whitt in the Rookie battle is Steve Belletto. Belletto, a multi-time champion at Stockton 99 Speedway in Stockton, Calif., through his hat into the Rookie program after missing the season opener at Phoenix Int'l Raceway. Since missing the first race, Belletto has made a name for himself by driving to the front after having difficulty qualifying up front. In six 2002 starts, Belletto has one top-five and two top-ten finishes with 686 laps completed out of 793 run this season. Belletto has an average finish of 12.3 and curently holds down the 11th position in the championship standings.
With only these two titans left to due battle the rest of the season after seven drivers decided to withdraw, qualifying for each of the remaining races will make the difference in the title chase.
<pre> Rookie-of-the-Year Standings after Race #7 of the 2002 Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring event at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif. Saturday, June 22, 2002.
Car # Driver Points Infineon Qualifying Infineon Finish 28 Brandon Whitt 59 9th 17th 30 Steve Belletto 53 32nd 14th 48 David Gilliland* 31 - - 23 Dan Holtz* 26 - - 74 Jason Allen* 23 - - 09 Greg Voigt* 17 - - 75 Jason Fensler* 17 - - 86 Adam Andretti* 16 - - 21 Thomas Martin* 6 - - *Withdrawn from the ROTY Program for 2002. </pre> Steve Belletto was the FSWS Rookie-of-the-Race with a 14th place effort on the 11-turn road course. Belletto closed the gap on the rookie chase to just six markers behind Brandon Whitt. The ROTY title chase is down to Whitt and Belletto after seven others drivers have withdrawn to preserve their Rookie status for 2003.