Concluding the NASCAR Goes West campaign, Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Cole Whitt finished 32nd in the Southern California Chevy Dealers No. 72 at Auto Club Speedway.
California native, Cole Whitt rolled off the grid 28th to start the Auto Club 400. The first caution came quickly after the start, on lap three of Stage 1. Whitt relayed the handling of the No. 72 was loose in, tight in the center and loose off; a condition Whitt battled for the entire duration of the extended over-time 202-lap event. Utilizing the caution as an opportunity, Crew Chief Frank Kerr pitted the No. 72 for tires, fuel and adjustments. Whitt returned to competition in the 32nd position and despite the pit stop adjustments, continued to struggle with ill handling. After a long green flag run, as fuel windows narrowed, green flag pit stops were inevitable. Whitt pitted under green on lap 34 when he was tagged for speeding on pit road and issued a NASCAR mandated pass through penalty. At the completion of Stage 1, lap 60, in the 36th position, two laps down from the leader, Whitt was eager to pit as the No. 72 had worsened and had become bouncy. He requested changes to allow for more side bite and ease for turning through the center. Under the Stage 1 completion caution, Whitt pitted for tires, fuel and wedge adjustments, returning to competition 31st, three laps down from the leader.
As the Auto Club 400 progressed into Stage 2, the adjustments from the previous pit stop had made the Southern California Chevy Dealers No. 72 edgy in, tight through the center and free off. As Stage 2 advanced and was caution free for the duration of the run, Crew Chief Frank Kerr called Whitt to pit under the Stage 2 completion caution making every effort to improve conditions for Whitt.
Entering Stage 3, Whitt resumed green flag racing in the 32nd position, three laps down from the leader. As the race progressed, the handling worsened for Whitt as the No. 72 was loose scoring him 4 laps down from the leader. A timely caution, soon thereafter, allowed Whitt to stay out on track and take the wave around gaining track position to 32nd position, 3 laps down. Another caution flag on lap 184, provided Whitt the much needed opportunity to pit for tires, air pressure adjustments and fuel, cycling back to the field 31st, three laps down. As Stage 3 neared end, the final caution of the day created an over-time scenario for the conclusion of the Auto Club 400, where Cole Whitt ultimately took the checkers finishing 32nd in the Southern California Chevy Dealers No. 72 at Auto Club Speedway.
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series will compete next weekend at Martinsville Speedway.