Whitt walks away from tremendous wreck at Sonoma Top-ten battle ends prematurely with demolished race car SONOMA, California (June 23, 2003) - What started as a promising run for Brandon Whitt came to a frustrating and frightening end at...
Whitt walks away from tremendous wreck at Sonoma
Top-ten battle ends prematurely with demolished race car
SONOMA, California (June 23, 2003) - What started as a promising run for Brandon Whitt came to a frustrating and frightening end at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, Calif., but the Clean Line Motorsports team is just happy to have their driver in one piece.
Brandon had matched his sixth-quick practice speed in qualifying, and the team was pumped up as the green flag was shown to the 42-car NASCAR Southwest Series field in the Snap-On Tools/Jelly Belly 200. But when the field got to turn three, Brandon found himself in a three-wide sandwich with cars on either side closing an already small gap. He was able to back out of the squeeze play, but not without several tire marks and damage to his left front. Once the field settled out, however, Brandon was able to hold his own in the top ten and was squarely in the top five with three-fourths of the distance complete.
Brandon's strong run ended when, during the race's closing laps, contact from another car going into turn one sent the No. 28 McMillin Homes/Victory Circle/Simpson GS3 Pontiac Grand Prix careening first into the inside wall, then across the track and head-on into the outside wall. The impact tore off the car's nose, crumpled both ends in a twisted mess, and bent the steering wheel in the cockpit. But the Clean Line team's safety preparations and Brandon's HANS device worked just as planned and the young driver was able to walk to the ambulance with minor scratches, soreness, and a deep sense of disappointment. At his family's and NASCAR's urging, Brandon underwent a precautionary CAT scan at a local hospital but was released later in the evening with a clean bill of health.
"I'm okay," Brandon says. "I've got a big headache right now and I'm sore, but otherwise I'm fine. I was running good in the top five, but when I got alongside the other car he came down on me and shoved me right into the wall. It's unfortunate that things like that have to happen on the track, because we're supposed to give and take out there. But what happened happened, and we just have to move on and get ready for the next race."
Brandon is cleared to race and will return to the Mesa Marin Raceway in Bakersfield, Calif. on June 28th for his next NASCAR Southwest Series event.