Whitt homecoming marred by crash at Cajon Speedway. Accident while running fifth takes hometown driver out of contention. EL CAJON, California (April 7, 2003) - On a chilly spring night at Cajon Speedway in El Cajon, Calif., third-generation ...
Whitt homecoming marred by crash at Cajon Speedway.
Accident while running fifth takes hometown driver out of contention.
EL CAJON, California (April 7, 2003) - On a chilly spring night at Cajon Speedway in El Cajon, Calif., third-generation driver Brandon Whitt appeared ready to put on a great show for his hometown fans.
Brandon qualified third-fastest for the NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series Coors Light 125 at Cajon in his No. 28 Moen Faucets/Victory Circle/Simpson Race Products Pontiac Grand Prix, one of only three drivers to turn laps in the 16.1-second bracket and only .04 seconds slower than fast qualifier Craig Raudman. Track tradition called for an inversion of the top qualifiers, however, and Brandon ultimately started sixth in the main event.
On lap 35, Brandon was in fifth place and navigating heavy close-quarters traffic when the third- and fourth-place cars got together ahead of him, blocking the racetrack. Brandon barely had time to blink before his Moen Faucets Pontiac was caught up in the wreck. The impact broke an oil line to the engine, and when Brandon went to re-fire the motor, flames spewed from under the hood - forcing the 2002 Rookie of the Year to sit on the track until he could be pushed to pit road.
Once the Clean Line Motorsports crew repaired the damage and got Brandon back on the track, the No. 28 was still one of the fastest cars on the track. By now, though, the team was 31 laps behind the leaders, and Jerry Pitts advised Brandon to use the rest of the race as a test session to gain experience. When the checkers finally flew, Brandon was officially listed in 21st place.
After the race, while Brandon signed autographs and accepted well-wishes from friends, family, and fans, he reflected on his night at his hometown track. "We had such a great car tonight," he said. "The wreck was a typical short-track deal. I couldn't even get on the brakes because everything happened so fast. But my crew did such a great job today. I had a terrific car all night, and that is because of all of the hard work the guys did for me. I want to thank them for that."
It was Jerry Pitts who delivered the best summary of the day for everyone involved. When the race ended, Jerry radioed to Brandon from the spotters' stand: "You did a great job. There was nothing else you could have done. Today wasn't our day. but our day is coming."
Brandon's next NASCAR Featherlite Southwest Series start will be the Budweiser 125 presented by Havoline at Stockton 99 Speedway in Stockton, Calif. on April 26th.