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Cole Whitt Defies the Doubt as NASCAR Upstart

Sophomore NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Cole Whitt is defying the odds and taking on the big boys of racing.

John Scott Lewinskiby John Scott Lewinski

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Cole Whitt isn’t a rookie anymore, but he’s still fighting for position — both on the track and in the ranks of NASCAR racing teams. In his second year in Sprint Cup Racing, Whitt and sponsor Speed Stick are promoting that fight for traction with its #DefyTheDoubt campaign.

“We’re obviously a smaller team,” Whitt said from his trailer hours before qualifying for the Brickyard 400. “We don’t get a lot of attention out there because the big boys focus on the big boys. They don’t expect us to run with them.”

“Our goal is just to run with them out there — to drive around the big teams with millions of dollars more than what we have. We worked with the folks at Speed Stick to come up with a hashtag and a campaign that would show that.”

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“Working with (Speed Stick) is always fun because the biggest thing for us around here is we’re a small team trying to make it with big dogs. They stand behind that. We’re not supposed to match the big guys on race dat, so we defy the odds. We all believes in that.”

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While Whitt and his entire race team push for success and respect on and off the track, Whitt hd to learn when to put his toe down and when to breathe during races: “Sometimes, you put it out there on the line. I think sometimes — during my rookie year – I drive over my head out there. I learned a lot through my first year about not overdriving the car and not finishing some races because of that.”

As for most younger drivers and upstart racing teams, the longterm goal for Whitt and company is to make it as a member of a bigger racing team like Hendrick or Penske. For now, he’s enjoying his status as a new face in the NASCAR Sprint Cup world and the young fans that brings his way.

“My fan contact is going up a lot. Just looking at Twitter, I’ve gained more followers. They’ve tripled in the last year. A lot of them are from the younger generation. I think it’s because young racing fans see a guy just a few years older than themselves and he’s out there racing NASCAR.”

As his popularity and notoriety as a racer grows, Whitt hopes to do more charity work with those young fans in need of a break: “I want to do more charity work — especially for underprivileged kids. I was very fortunate with my family because they did a lot for me. I feel for the kids who didn’t have that opportunity and don’t have that grownup in their lives to offer that guidance or be there for them. I know how important it is to have that person there for you.”