SWS: Cajon: Brandon Whitt preview

Third-generation El Cajon racer Brandon Whitt to return to hometown competition. March 18, 2002, El Cajon, CA: Nineteen year-old stock car racer Brandon Whitt will continue a three-generation tradition on Saturday when he competes in the NASCAR...

Third-generation El Cajon racer Brandon Whitt to return to hometown competition.

March 18, 2002, El Cajon, CA: Nineteen year-old stock car racer Brandon Whitt will continue a three-generation tradition on Saturday when he competes in the NASCAR Southwest Featherlite race at Cajon Speedway. The Whitt family and their Clean Line Racing team has been racing and winning at El Cajon throughout the last forty years, and are stepping up to Southwest Featherlite competition this season with new sponsor Moen Faucets. The family's current standard-bearer is young Brandon Whitt, who returned to the family team last year after nine months of specialized training in open-wheel cars at the famous ELF/La Filliere Campus school in Le Mans, France.

Back in 1999 the Whitt family made local history when Brandon, his uncle Tobin and his grandfather Jim raced at Cajon Speedway on the same evening. Preparing for his hometown debut in the more powerful Southwest Featherlite cars this Saturday, young Brandon looks back to that special night for inspiration:

"I remember standing next to my father on the spotter's deck, watching the old-timer's race. It was the fifteenth lap, and my sixty-five year-old grandfather was leading the race, followed closely by my Uncle Tobin. My Dad and I weren't sure who to root for, but when Tobin dived down the inside and passed my Grandpa for the lead, we cheered like mad. A moment later, my Dad looked at me and said, 'Brandon, when you go out there tonight in Sportsman Stock, it will be the first time in history that three generations of a family raced on the same night at El Cajon Speedway.' I got chills when he told me that, and I still do whenever I talk about it."

Brandon expects to see a lot of family and friends, including Uncle Tobin Whitt and his grandfather Jim Whitt, cheering him on this Saturday. "For some reason my Grandpa never comes down to the pits when I race. He just watches from the stands. He did the same thing when his son Tobin was racing. I think he's afraid he might be tempted to jump in the car himself," chuckles Brandon.

To celebrate his return to the fold in the spring of 2001, the Whitt family reformed their Clean Line Racing team and commissioned a new paint-scheme for Brandon's #28 car, featuring a huge green "W" on the hood to celebrate the Whitt heritage of racing. Brandon and the family-run team spent the summer of 2001 competing in a limited schedule of Super Late Model races at El Cajon, Bakersfield, Phoenix and Irwindale, gaining momentum with several podium finishes during the summer.

Brandon entered his first Southwest Featherlite event in Phoenix on October 25th, finishing 14th. He completed the season with a bang by winning his first career Super Late Model race at the Las Vegas Bullring on November 4, 2001.

One of ten drivers competing for Rookie-of-the-Year honors in the 2002 Southwest Featherlite Tour, Brandon finished 28th in the season-opener at Phoenix, after being swept up in a four car pileup midway through the race. Upon receiving a clean bill of health at the trackside medical center, Brandon re-entered the race minus his front-end bodywork, and finished 16 laps down but with valuable points, and is ranked third in the rookie standings heading into El Cajon.

"Our main goal for this season is to qualify for every race and win Rookie of the Year. I've been racing at El Cajon since I was sixteen and I know the track well." According to Brandon, the biggest adjustment from Super Late Model to the Featherlite Southwest Tour is the increased power available to the driver. "You need to slow down more for the corners, and roll on the power smoothly coming out of the turns. You can't get all jumpy on the throttle like you can in the lower-horsepower Super Late Models. There's still an element of momentum involved, but a lot more acceleration and deceleration on each lap."

Series: NASCAR Southwest Featherlite Tour
Driver: Brandon Whitt
Car: #28 Moen Faucet/STR Chevrolet Monte Carlo
Team: Clean Line Racing

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Series NASCAR
Drivers Brandon Whitt