Brandon Whitt extends Rookie of the Year lead with another top 10 finish. July 7, 2002, Erie, Colorado: Nineteen year-old stock car racer Brandon Whitt scored his second consecutive top ten finish at Colorado National Speedway on Saturday, ...
Brandon Whitt extends Rookie of the Year lead with another top 10 finish.
July 7, 2002, Erie, Colorado: Nineteen year-old stock car racer Brandon Whitt scored his second consecutive top ten finish at Colorado National Speedway on Saturday, extending his lead in Rookie-of-the-Year points and moving up to ninth in the overall championship standings in the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring. After qualifying sixteenth due to a loose car, Brandon and his family-run Clean Line Racing Team decided not to change the setup, predicting that changing track conditions would favor a loose car in the race. The gamble paid off, as Brandon passed nine cars in the opening laps and settled into fifth place for most of the race.
"The moment the race started, I had a car that could run anywhere on the track, high or low" Brandon explained. "It was one of my most fun races because I was moving up through the field so quickly. I was hoping to finish top five after spending so much time in the fifth spot, but I had some unlucky breaks with lapped traffic at the end and lost a few positions."
Brandon's sole remaining rival for Rookie-of-the-Year, Steve Belletto, finished sixteenth, extending Brandon's lead in rookie points to seven. Brandon now leads Belletto 107-100 in rookie points, yet trails Belletto by two points in the overall championship standings.
"We're within striking distance of our goals now with two remaining races left in the season," says Brandon, who started the season hoping to win Rookie-of-the-Year and finish Top Ten in overall points. "We have a great setup for Mesa Marin, and have run well at Phoenix, so I feel very good about our chances."
As the Featherlite Southwest heads into a two-month hiatus, Brandon, like most other nineteen year olds, will be heading back to school. Entering his third semester at Cuyamaca College in El Cajon, Brandon will be taking four classes this fall, working towards completion of his Associates Degree in the spring of 2003.
"My goal is to complete my AA in the spring, and then transfer to San Diego State next fall to pursue a mechanical engineering degree," explains Brandon. "It's amazing be following my dream of becoming a professional racing driver, yet at the same time I want to keep my feet on the ground and build a solid base for my future. I've always admired professional athletes who develop themselves physically and mentally at the same time, and Mechanical Engineering can help me both on and off the track."
Brandon expects to enter several Super Late Model races in September and October at tracks including Irwindale, Bakersfield, and El Cajon. The next NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series race will take place on Sunday, October 20th at Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, California.