RICHMOND, VA (August 31, 2001) - For nearly three decades, Vince Whitmire has been the prototypical 'Saturday Night' weekly short-track racer. On Thursday, September 6, the 43-year-old Georgia native will take his first step into the big time when...
RICHMOND, VA (August 31, 2001) - For nearly three decades, Vince Whitmire has been the prototypical 'Saturday Night' weekly short-track racer. On Thursday, September 6, the 43-year-old Georgia native will take his first step into the big time when he takes the green flag in the Kroger 200 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Richmond International Raceway.
"This has been a long time coming," said Whitmire, who will pilot the No. 61 Team Rensi Chevrolet Silverado in the Richmond event. "I've always believed I could compete at this level, but I never had the opportunity to do so. Thanks to Team Rensi, I finally have that opportunity."
Whitmire comes to the Craftsman Truck Series after an impressive career in motorcycle, go kart, stock car and truck racing. After winning 10 of 14 motorcycle events over a three-year period, Whitmire graduated to go karts where he posted even more impressive statistics winning the 1980 Georgia State Championship on the strength of 30 victories in 50 events.
In 1984, Whitmire ascended to the Late Model Stock Car ranks at Georgia International Speedway (now Peach State) with immediate success capturing the track's Rookie of the Year Award.
Whitmire's career then took a different turn as he became the General Manager of Georgia International and later the promoter at Anderson (SC) Motor Speedway. A resident of Flowery Branch, GA, Whitmire returned to the Stock Car ranks in 1992 competing at Peach State and Lanier (GA) Speedways. Along the way, Whitmire competed in select NASCAR All-Pro and Hooters Cup events before joining the Parts Pro Truck Series in 1999.
"The Parts Pro Truck Series is a neat deal and got me revved up about racing in the Craftsman Truck Series," said Whitmire, who finished in the Top-10 in PPTS points both seasons despite not running the full schedule of events. "There's just something about racing a truck that appeals to me and the Craftsman Truck Series is the highest form of that kind of racing. It really made me want to work toward getting a ride there."
The Kroger 200 and the .75-mile Richmond oval should be the perfect place for Whitmire to make his NCTS debut after a career filled full of weekend events at short tracks around the country.
"I've never raced at Richmond, so obviously there's going to be an adjustment there," said Whitmire. "I have been to some pretty fast places like USA International Speedway in Lakeland, FL. Last year, I ran the Parts Pro event at Atlanta Motor Speedway. It was a road course race, but we used the back stretch portion of the oval track and we were hitting nearly 150 miles an hour in a truck that has a stock front stub and stock front spindles. That was pretty crazy."
While Whitmire is looking forward to the Richmond NCTS challenge, he is also realistic about his initial NCTS outing.
"We're going there for the experience and to race the racetrack," Whitmire stated. "We're not coming in with any big ideas about how we're going to run or finish. In fact, the only goal here is to get some experience and finish the race with all the fenders on the truck. It would be great to be running at the end of the race, maybe in the Top-15 or so. I'm not out there to race Jack Sprague, Joe Ruttman, Scot Riggs or any of the other drivers competing for the Truck Series championship. You can be sure I will be giving them plenty of room. I'm out there to do something I always dreamed about doing. Heck, I'm 43-years-old. I don't have any illusions about a career change here. I'm just like every other weekly racer who ever wanted to race in a premiere NASCAR division. I'll be out there racing for myself and every one of those guys who ever dreamed of doing that."
The Kroger 200 at Richmond International Raceway will take the green flag Thursday, September 6, at 8 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 19th of 24 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events this season will be telecast live on ESPN2 and will be broadcast worldwide on MRN Radio.