Whitt Wins USAC Championship
At 17 years old, Cole Whitt became USAC's youngest champion when he edged Tracy Hines by one point to claim the USAC National Midget title on Thursday night.
The Red Bull athlete trailed Hines by 17 points entering the Turkey Night Grand Prix in Irwindale, Calif. Whitt finished 11th in the race; Hines 26th. And after nearly 30 races, he won the title 196-195.
“They’re all so good,” Whitt said of USAC competition. “All those guys have so many laps in every situation — a bunch of times. They don’t think twice out there on the race track. I try to learn from them the best I can. You have to work really hard to catch up to them.”
Driving Keith Kunz’s Red Bull Bullet/Esslinger Ford, Whitt was impressive in his first full season in USAC midgets. He led all 30 laps to win at Dodge County Fairgrounds in August and went to victory lane in the prestigious Hut Hundred in October.
On the sprint car side, he won twice — at Big Diamond and Gas City — and finished fourth in the championship only because he fell one race short because of age restrictions at Richmond.
Whitt, no doubt, hopes he’s on the fast track to NASCAR.
“That’s the reason I chose this way to go. A lot of people say the sprints and midgets are the toughest thing out there,” Whitt said. “Running on dirt and pavement and being in a different kind of car almost 80 times a year … you just get so much seat time. You learn so much.”