Third-generation El Cajon racer Brandon Whitt finishes fifth and takes lead in Rookie-of-the-Year standings. March 18, 2002, El Cajon, CA: Nineteen year-old stock car racer Brandon Whitt finished fifth on Saturday, continuing a three-generation...
Third-generation El Cajon racer Brandon Whitt finishes fifth and takes lead in Rookie-of-the-Year standings.
March 18, 2002, El Cajon, CA: Nineteen year-old stock car racer Brandon Whitt finished fifth on Saturday, continuing a three-generation family tradition. Brandon's third career event in the Southwest Featherlite series brought him the "Rookie of the Race" award, and moved him to first place in the Rookie-of-the-Year standings and ninth place overall. The Whitt family and their Clean Line Racing team have been racing and winning at El Cajon throughout the last forty years, and Brandon's father Dan and Grandfather Jim were on hand to cheer for the black car with the big green "W" on the hood.
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. Shortly thereafter, Brandon headed to Le Mans, France for nine months of specialized training in open-wheel cars at the famous ELF/La Filliere Campus school. Brandon returned home in time to graduate high school and began a limited series of Super Late Model races last year in preparation for this year's full-season Southwest Featherlite program.
"I had a blast," exclaimed Brandon. "We started fifth, I got up to fourth around lap ten, and just hung out, trying to save the car. There was a lot of close racing, and long stretches of green flag. I have to thank the crew-we had a good car that never went away during the long runs. I was really excited with all the friends and family in the stands, and it was a big sigh of relief when I finished the race in a good position."
Brandon's father Dan Whitt, who owns and manages the Clean Line Racing Team, was impressed by his son's poise in a high pressure situation. "It's hard when you go to your own home track, because everybody you know is there expects you to do well. Brandon's confidence last night was huge. On the restarts, a couple of guys gave him a lot of pressure, including Jerry Gay, who is a legend around here with over 125 wins under his belt. Brandon didn't give Jerry an inch, and to drive away from him is quite an accomplishment." (Gay finished the race in seventh position.)
"Our main goal for this season is to qualify for every race and win Rookie of the Year," Brandon said before the race. His fifth-place qualifying effort proved especially valuable on the tight 0.375 mile El Cajon bullring, where passing is difficult. The starting grid was limited to 24 cars, and several of Brandon's Rookie of the Year competitors were among the 16 drivers who did not qualify.