NASCAR: Front Row expands to three full-time cars, adds Cole Whitt

Leave a comment

Cole Whitt’s NASCAR career has taken him from the Red Bull driver ladder to Swan, then BK Racing last year and now to Front Row Motorsports for 2015.

Whitt, who’s still only 23 despite the career odyssey, will enter his second full-time season in FRM’s third full-time entry, the No. 35 Ford, alongside David Ragan and David Gilliland.

It’s a good resolution after a misplaced tweet about Whitt’s 2015 plans earlier this offseason by Anthony Marlowe, who later apologized about the situation in an exclusive interview with my MotorSportsTalk colleague Jerry Bonkowski.

Sponsorship for Whitt will come from Speed Stick for 10 races, including the season-opening Daytona 500. Randy Cox will also join the Front Row team to continue his relationship with Whitt as crew chief.

“I’m really excited and grateful for the opportunity to go racing with Front Row Motorsports and continue my relationship with Speed Stick,” Whitt said.

“Bob Jenkins is a smart businessman and has grown his team the right way over the years, and I’m really looking forward to being a part of that growth. The 2014 season was great for me as a driver. We had some important personal victories and some areas where we’ll want to improve.”

The No. 35 ran selected rounds of the 2014 Sprint Cup schedule with several different drivers, but struggled to find footing after failing to qualify in several of the opening races.

Whitt, too, endured a trying year as Swan Racing went under, and his entry was fused into BK Racing for the balance of the season. He started all 36 races, and posted a best finish of 15th in the fall Talladega race with two other top-20 finishes. He ended 31st in the points standings.

Ideally, the race-winning FRM squad – traditionally a strong performer at the restrictor-plate races where Ragan has won before – should propel Whitt a bit further forward in 2015.

Kyle Busch happy with first stint: ‘Put me in the car, there’s excitement!’

AP Photo/Terry Renna
Leave a comment

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Rolex 24 at Daytona debut of the “KB Show” was cut short by a strategy maneuver but still delivered drama and a positive result.

Kyle Busch got the No. 14 RCF GT3 Lexus back on the lead lap and back in contention for a GTD victory at Daytona International Speedway.

“It was good,” Kyle Busch said with a broad smile after a 42-minute stint. “Just, uh, shit, put me in the car, and there’s excitement around! Drove all my way back to the lead lap and everything.

“Overall, we’ve had a good experience and hell I only got one stint in, so I’m ready for more. Sign me up, coach!”

The two-time Cup champion was expected to drive for at least 90 minutes, but the first full-course caution of the race (with 19 hours and 16 minutes remaining) caused AIM Vasser Sullivan to change up its drive plan. Busch was called to the pits in favor of Parker Chase.

“With all the strategy and the way the wave-bys work here, it’s quite different than what we’re accustomed to (in NASCAR),” said Busch, who likely will drive longer now later in the race. “That wasn’t bad. To get ourselves back on the lead lap and back to a position where we can start scrapping again hopefully is what we needed.

“So I got one stint in, but I’m trying to save myself and (teammate) Jack (Hawksworth) for a little later.”

Busch climbed into the car shortly after 6 p.m. as the last of the No. 14’s four drivers. He complained a few times on his radio about traffic, which he said was his biggest challenge.

“There were a couple of instances we ran down a smaller car, and (it was) just mirror driving in front of us,” he said. “That was pretty bad. We lost probably 2 seconds on that. Overall, I guess that’s road racing.

The yellow flag was exactly what Busch’s team needed after being forced to start from the rear of the field when it missed qualifying because of an engine change. Hawksworth, who started the race, said the car was “quick in the wrong places and slow in the right places” after struggling with handling and speed in the first stint.

“I don’t feel we’re out of it,” Hawksworth said. “It’s a very long race. Still early days. We need to work on having speed for the end of the race. The position right now doesn’t really make any difference. We’ll need to find some performance at the end of the race to fight for the win.”