26th Place Finish for Cole Whitt in Kansas
The Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series (MENCS) raced under the lights for the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway. Cole Whitt, driver of the RTIC Coolers No. 72, qualified 26th to start the 267-lap event. An ill-handling condition plagued the California native for the duration of the event.
Whitt identified early in Stage 1 the RITC Coolers No. 72 was unbalanced resulting in the lack of stability in the front and rear. Falling back to the 35th position and a lap down from the leader, an early caution on lap 31, with seemingly perfect timing, allowed Whitt to pit for much needed adjustments. Crew Chief Frank Kerr debated the option to keep Whitt out to gain track position or pit in an effort to improve the handling. Kerr quickly asserted the call to bring Whitt in for four tires, fuel, air pressure and wedge adjustments sending him back out to take the green flag restart in the 35th positon. Whitt relayed the car was better but still tight and became even more so under a long green flag run. With the next caution soon thereafter, Whitt was the recipient of the free pass and came back to pit road for four tires, fuel and air pressure adjustments; returning to the field 31st and posted back on the lead lap. Whitt continued to run between 33rd and 31st and pitted two more times through the end of Stage 1.
Starting Stage 2 posted as 31st on the leaderboard, Whitt relayed the handling was worse and he continued to battle lack of front and rear stability. Stage 2 contained a total of 5 cautions including the Stage 2 conclusion caution. Whitt pitted several times throughout Stage 2 as he continued to battle lack of rear grip and communicated he could not run the high grove because he had nothing to lean on. With that feedback, Crew Chief Frank Kerr called Whitt for a series of pit stops during Stage 2. At the Stage 2 completion, Whitt was posted in the 24th position at which point he pitted for four tires, fuel and a wedge adjustment; restarting 23rd as he took the green flag for the start of Stage 3.
With Stage 3 underway, Whitt radioed the RTIC Coolers No. 72 sounded different. He relayed the gauges were normal but knew something had changed with the No. 72. Calling him to pit road under caution, Crew Chief Frank Kerr had the pit crew check the spark plug connections and sent Whitt back out to rejoin the field 30th and one lap down from the leader. The field took the green flag restart on lap 198 when a major accident, on lap 201, involving three competitors resulted in a lengthy red flag. When the field returned to yellow, the crew assessed the No. 72 and could not determine the cause of the issue. Whitt resumed his placement on track, restarting 27th when the green flag was displayed. He advanced one position and continued to run in the 26th until the final lap of the Go Bowling 400. Post-race the team determined the No. 72 most likely experienced a clogged injector. Despite the challenges, Cole Whitt and the No. 72 team leave Kansas Speedway with a respectable 26th place finish.
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