February 3, 2003, Phoenix, Arizona: Last season's Rookie-of-the-Year Brandon Whitt had his best-ever qualifying performance in Featherlite Southwest competition on Saturday, qualifying third for the season-opener of the Featherlite Southwest...
February 3, 2003, Phoenix, Arizona: Last season's Rookie-of-the-Year Brandon Whitt had his best-ever qualifying performance in Featherlite Southwest competition on Saturday, qualifying third for the season-opener of the Featherlite Southwest Series, NASCAR Touring. Running in the top five throughout the first half of the race, Brandon pitted for fresh rubber during a yellow flag on Lap 50 while the leaders stayed out. Climbing back up the ranks from 22nd position, Whitt finished ninth, directly behind Winston Cup driver Ken Schrader.
"It was great to have a strong result right away, after all the changes we made during the offseason. I was so excited when they told me on the radio that we had qualified third, and racing with Ken Schrader the next day was a real treat."
During the brief off-season, Brandon and his family owned Clean Line Racing team hired Jerry Pitts as Crew Chief, Bob "Toby" Tobias as Car Chief, and switched to the Victory Circle Chassis. With just four laps of practice in the new car due to a rear end problem, the team did not have a baseline on fuel consumption or tire wear for long runs. "Although our pit strategy was different from the leaders, I still feel that was the best decision," explains Brandon.
Brandon's father Dan Whitt is concentrating on the business aspects of team ownership this season, now that the race shop has moved to Bakersfield California from the family's home base in El Cajon. "It's nice to have Jerry and Toby working on the car full-time up in Bakersfield. It has taken a big load off my mind to become more of a traditional team owner and leave the car preparation and race strategy to Jerry," says Dan.
With the Featherlite Southwest series on hiatus until the March 22nd event at Mesa Marin Raceway, Brandon will be hitting the books, focusing on his engineering studies at Bakersfield College.