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It’s clear that Cole Whitt is here to stay. The Red Bull rookie ranks fifth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series standings — he’s 12 points behind leader Johnny Sauter based on his three top 10s in the five races this season.

Better yet, he’s first in the Truck Series rookie standings. Parker Klingerman is the next-closest first-year driver, and he sits 10th in the standings — a fluffy 39 points behind Whitt entering Friday’s Lucas Oil 200 at Dover International Speedway.

“My first year in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series has been a big learning curve because this is the first time that I’ve ever driven trucks and they’re a lot different than driving cars,” Whitt said. “I think we’ve done really well, though, on tracks that I had never even seen before, so that’s been a pleasant surprise. All in all, I feel like we’ve been really stout.”

Stout, indeed.

In Turn One Racing’s No. 60 truck, Whitt has finishes of 14th, sixth, eighth, sixth and 12th. He hadn’t seen three of those tracks (Daytona, Darlington and Nashville) until he rolled off for practice, yet he has qualified in the top 10 four times, including a pole at tricky, slippery Darlington.

Whitt heads to Dover this weekend, having navigated the concrete high banks once before. That go-around came in September 2010 in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, when he put his Red Bull Toyota on the front row but suffered a blow tire — and the ensuing contact with the wall — to finish 26th.

"If we could just put a whole race together then I think we’d have the chance to contend for wins."

“We’ve had some really good runs,” Whitt said, “and if we could just put a whole race together then I think we’d have the chance to contend for wins. I think that’s part of being a rookie, though … learning how to run well the entire race. It’s great that I’m able to lead the rookie of the year standings right now, and I’m looking forward to trying to hold on to that title throughout the rest of the season.”

Follow Red Bull Racing Team on Twitter: @RedBullNASCAR.

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