Halfway of Saturday night’s AAA Insurance 200 marked the halfway point of the 2011 Camping World Truck Series season.
Cole Whitt finished eighth at Lucas Oil Raceway while throwing around a slew of adjectives to describe the handling of his Turn One Racing No. 60. First it was “tight,” then “killer tight,” then “super tight” and, lastly, on a scale of 1-to-10, it was “10 tight.” But Whitt hung on at the .686-mile short track and, knowing that his truck couldn’t make it on fuel, pitted late for tires and gas.
From there, Whitt charged to eighth, hoping a few of the front-runners would be forced to pit or that the race may enter overtime. It didn’t, and the strategy of cycling to the front just missed.
“It’s a little frustrating,” Whitt said. “We couldn’t quite get through the field the way we needed to and were fighting the truck a little bit — tight in the center, tight off. It took a little while to get used to it. Once we got the truck handling a little better, we were definitely faster but the pit cycles just never worked out. We knew we couldn’t make it to the end and came in and got our tires, made up a lot of time. I think we would’ve been pretty sporty if everything had cycled around. We’ll just take it and move on.”
Recapping the first of Whitt’s rookie season in the Truck Series:
DIGITS THAT MAKE A DIFFERENCE: Starts: 13; Poles: 1; Wins: 0; Top fives: 2; Top 10s: 7; Average start: 11.5; Average finish: 11.8; Laps completed: 2,057 of 2,171 (94.7 percent); Laps led: 67; DNFs (1); Fastest laps: 83; Laps in top 15: 1,690 (77.8 percent); Laps on lead lap: 1,879 (86.6 percent).
HIGHLIGHTS: March 12, Darlington Raceway — Whitt won the pole, his first in only four tries, with a track-record lap of 173.933 mph. … May 20, Charlotte Motor Speedway — Coming off a career-best second-place finish at Dover, Whitt, still more than a month from his 20th birthday, finished third and became the first rookie and youngest driver to lead the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series points standings.
LOWLIGHT: June 10, Texas Motor Speedway … The motor in Whitt’s truck quit with 56 laps to go. Whitt finished 28th — a sour ending to what was shaping up to be a promising night. After starting 14th, Whitt had climbed to fourth while avoiding a slew of cautions. He lost the title as the only Truck Series driver complete every lap.
POINTS LANDSCAPE: Whitt ranks fifth — 29 points behind leader Johnny Sauter with 12 races remaining. The standings read like this: Sauter (453), Austin Dillon (-4), James Buescher (-20), Timothy Peters (-22) and Whitt. “We’re hanging onto a top-five spot. With everything tightening up we could jump right up there in one race. We just have to go out there and try to win races.”
Up next for the Truck Series: Saturday at Pocono Raceway.
Follow Red Bull Racing Team on Twitter: @RedBullNASCAR.