“I feel like our TaxSlayer team has been steadily improving as a group,” Whitt says. “Until Talladega, we just hadn’t had much luck through an entire race. It’s good to finally get a finish that our team deserved. There were a few races where I feel our finish didn’t show how well we were running.”
Last weekend at Talladega Superspeedway, Whitt finished fourth for his third top 10 of the season. Whitt now sits fifth in NASCAR Nationwide Series points, 77 points behind points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
Now this weekend heading to Darlington Raceway, Whitt will make his ninth start with JR Motorsports, ready to continue to move up the points ladder.
“I’m ready for this weekend. To head to a track where I’ve raced before and sat on a pole is exciting,” he says. “I led a lot of laps at Darlington in the Truck Series last year. I feel like these cars drive pretty similarly to the trucks, so that will be a benefit for me. A lot of people dread going to Darlington, it’s an intimidating race track. But I’m one of the guys that smiles when I see it on the schedule.”
Last year at Darlington in his first start on the 1.366 mile in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Whitt finished eighth after leading 30 laps.
While racing around the track, Whitt will be raising awareness for childhood cancer while running the CURE Childhood Cancer’s Press on Fund decal on the hood.
“This is important for TaxSlayer and everyone at JR Motorsports,” Whitt adds. “I hope we can run up front and bring some attention their cause.”
Meanwhile, teammate Danica Patrick will be making his first ever Nationwide Series start at Darlington as she continues learning more about racing stock cars.
“I’m told Darlington is not so much about the track and getting comfortable, it’s more about how to pass there because it’s difficult,” she says. “I think it’s one of those places where you can’t wrap your head around it until you actually get there. I know going two-wide in turns one and two is a detriment to your lap time. I’ll want to be smart about when you’re supposed to give a position up, so you don’t lose too much time. Getting used to that is going to be the hardest thing. It’s a new track for me, so feeling out the rhythm of the race is going to be another challenge.”
In eight races this year, Patrick has finished only once in the top 10, which happened at Texas Motor Speedway. She now sits 11th in points, two points out of the top 10.
Crew chief Tony Eury Jr. gave her some DVDs from previous Darlington races to watch to therefore learn more about the track. She hasn’t decided quite yet her goals for this weekend, but she knows that Darlington is going to be tough.
“I’m hoping to get familiar with the track during practice and try to complete every lap during the race,” she adds. “Realistic expectations are going to be important for our Go Daddy team. But with both the Nationwide and Cup races on the schedule, it’s going to be a busy weekend for sure.”