WWS: Brandon Whitt's California double report

Two races, two outside poles in Whitt's California double. FONTANA and STOCKTON, California (April 26, 2003) - One of the hardest lessons to learn in racing is that, even in the face of difficulty, drivers and teams must always dwell on the ...

Two races, two outside poles in Whitt's California double.

FONTANA and STOCKTON, California (April 26, 2003) - One of the hardest lessons to learn in racing is that, even in the face of difficulty, drivers and teams must always dwell on the so-called "silver lining" in every dark cloud so that they can maintain their focus in this demanding sport. That is why third-generation driver Brandon Whitt will be able to look back on his racing doubleheader on Saturday, April 26th as a positive experience - even though his finishes were not what he had hoped to achieve.

Brandon Whitt.
Photo by Tony Johns.
Brandon turned heads when he qualified his No. 28 McMillin Realty/Simpson GS3 Chevrolet Monte Carlo on the outside pole for his first-ever NASCAR Winston West, Grand National Division start at the 2-mile California Speedway in Fontana, Calif. As the Pontiac Wide Track Grand Prix 200 got underway, Brandon settled into fourth place to turn some laps and get some experience in the draft behind Ken Schrader and Scott Lynch. But he did not stay there long, passing Lynch for third and then moving into second after a speedy two-tire stop under yellow. Then, on the next caution, leader Schrader elected to pit and handed the top spot to Brandon.

The rookie driver enjoyed 16 laps in clear air in front of the field and the Fox Sports Net cameras, leading the first Winston West laps of his career, until Brandon experienced the famous and dreaded "aero loose" condition in traffic. Fortunately, he gathered the car back up and fell in line, having learned a valuable aerodynamic lesson in big-track drafting.

As Brandon came down pit road in the late stages of the race for his final stop, however, the caution flag flew for debris. Immediately, Jerry Pitts waved Brandon out of his pit stall, hoping to keep his young driver on the lead lap, but NASCAR ruled to the team's disappointment that the No. 28 had not beat the leader out of the pits. This meant that Brandon would restart one lap down in 17th, but Brandon was able to make up a position in the final ten laps and completed his first Winston West race in the 16th position.

Brandon Whitt.
Photo by Tony Johns.
"I'm very happy with the way the whole Winston West deal went from the time we rolled out of the hauler," Brandon said after the race. "Jerry gave me such a great car to drive. Nobody could have predicted that caution coming out right when we hit pit road. I look at it as one big learning experience. It was a lot of fun drafting and mixing it up with those guys."

Immediately following the race, the Clean Line crew quickly gathered their gear and headed to Ontario Airport for the trip up to Stockton, Calif. and the quarter-mile Stockton 99 Speedway, the next stop in their Saturday doubleheader. Brandon put his familiar No. 28 Moen Faucets/Victory Circle/Simpson Race Products Pontiac Grand Prix on the outside of the front row - his second outside-pole start of the day. But once again, misfortune struck in the Budweiser 125 presented by Havoline while Brandon was running in the top five - this time in the form of ignition failure which robbed Brandon's car of power and cost him eleven laps to the leaders.

Still, for all that happened on this marathon day, there was much to be pleased about for Brandon and his team.

"You know, it was unfortunate to end the weekend with the result at Stockton," continued Brandon. "We were coming off of a high note with the (Winston) West race in Fontana. We practiced and qualified well, but unfortunately our race was marred by the ignition problem.

"We have everything in place. We are just being held up by problems that nobody can help or control. We will just keep working hard and move on to the next race."

"All of the I's were dotted and T's were crossed," said Brandon's father and team owner Dan Whitt. "We couldn't have asked for anything else from the crew. I'd like to thank our team members for the tremendous effort they showed this weekend."

Restart: Brandon Whitt.
Photo by Tony Johns.

Brandon will compete in his next NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series, Touring Division event at Irwindale Speedway in Irwindale, Calif. on Saturday, June 7th.

Finally, Brandon Whitt and the Clean Line Motorsports team send their best wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery to friend and fellow racer Austin Cameron.

ERRATA: In our previous press release, we stated that Jerry Pitts was the winning crew chief in Eric Norris' victory at Fontana in 2002. However, Jerry joined the Norris Racing team immediately following that race; Kevin Cram was the crew chief of record for the event. We apologize for our error.

-clm/tj-

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About this article
Series NASCAR
Drivers Ken Schrader , Brandon Whitt , Eric Norris , Scott Lynch , Austin Cameron