NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie Cole Whitt wasnt sure hed even have a car to drive in the first of the Budweiser Duels on Thursday night. But his crew feverishly hung a new right side on the No. 26 Swan Racing Toyota, and Whitt raced the fledgling teams rebuilt car into the field for Sundays Daytona 500.
By RANDY COVITZ
The Kansas City Star
Whitt, 22, had blown a right front tire during Wednesdays practice, sending him into the wall and tearing up the Camry from the right front tire to the right rear. He would have gone to a backup car for the first Budweiser Duel, but teammate Parker Kligermans Toyota was totaled when he was sent into the fence during Wednesdays seven-car crash.
Because Swan Racing had only one backup car, it went to fellow rookie Kligerman, leaving Whitts crew to go to work fixing the No. 26. Whitt rewarded Swan Racing, a second-year operation, with a 12th-place finish, which was good enough for to make the field.
And Kligerman, the 2009 ARCA series winner at Kansas Speedway, finished 18th, which also turned out to be good enough to put him in the field.
These guys worked their tails off, Whitt said. Thats a testament to the guys we hired at Swan Racing. Stepping up to cars is tough for them. We took on a lot with building new cars, moving shops, trying to find sponsors. For our guys to pull together and fix our car up was pretty impressive. It says a lot about our company and where were headed.
Bowman in, too
Another rookie, Alex Bowman, driving the No. 23 Toyota for BK Racing, made a mad dash from the rear of the 24-car field to the 15th place finish he needed to clinch a spot in the 500.
I was fortunate enough to get the right runs at the end and pass the exact number of cars, said Bowman, 20, the winner of ARCA series races at Kansas Speedway in 2011 and 2012. This is huge. I mean, I got the call to come drive a Cup car to make the Daytona 500. Its something Ive watched as a kid every year.
Show Me fast
Jason Jennings, of LaGrange, Mo., will attempt to qualify for Fridays Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona in the No. 63 MB Motorsports Chevrolet that propelled the NASCAR careers of Carl Edwards of Columbia and Jamie McMurray of Joplin.
Jennings, 21, who has made 10 starts in the past two years for truck owner Mike Mittler, hopes to compete in 10 to 12 races this season, including Kansas, where he finished a season-best 18th in 2013 last season, and at Iowa and St. Louis.
Mike Mittler is always telling people about me and trying to promote me as much as he can, and he really wants to move me up to the next level, Jennings said. Were going all out for this race and start the year off right. We ended on a good note last year at Texas with a lead-lap (19th-place) finish and ran up there with them, so wed like to continue that this year.
Full ride for Cobb
Jennifer Jo Cobb of Kansas City, Kan., has lined up sponsorship to run the full 22-race truck series schedule in the No. 10 Chevrolet, starting Friday at Daytona.
Cobb is participating with the Used Truck Association Wreaths Across America and Fans4Truckers to honor Arlington Cemeterys 150th Anniversary and has co-sponsorship with Grimes Irrigation and Construction of Tyler, Texas.
Cobb holds the record for the highest finish by a female in NASCAR at Daytona with her sixth-place finish in 2011.
NASCAR Hall of Famer and Fox analyst Darrell Waltrip, who missed the telecast of the Sprint Unlimited on Saturday after undergoing gall bladder surgery, will return to the booth for the Daytona 500.
Im doing fine, said Waltrip, 67. I feel great. I had no idea I had anything wrong. I was getting ready to leave to come down here, and the next thing I know I was rushed in to the emergency room and they took out my gallbladder. Im healing up good.
It was the first time since he started with the network in 2001 that Waltrip had missed a broadcast.
Clint Bowyer remembers the day he was working in an Emporia, Kan., body shop when he received the call from Richard Childress, offering him a chance in NASCAR.
Now Bowyer and Michael Waltrip Racing are launching the second Peak Stock Car Dream Challenge, a nationwide search to find an amateur racer who may have the potential to become a professional driver. Last year, 700 entrants were narrowed to Patrick Staropoli, a 23-year-old medical student from Plantation, Fla., who moonlights as a racecar driver. Staropoli won the Challenge and drove the No. 99 PEAK Toyota in two NASCAR K&N Pro Series West races, recording two top-10 finishes.
From now until April 30, racers can submit video entries and their racing resumes at PeakStockCarDream.com, showing off their talents and telling viewers why they deserve one of the 18 spots at the Showdown in Charlotte, a three-day racing competition with coaching and judging from Waltrip team drivers, Peak representatives and Danica Patrick.
In todays day and age, its sad, but true, youve got to have a pile of money to get here, Bowyer said, and Peak is creating an opportunity for a lucky driver. Patrick is building a name for himself. I love the fact that literally all you have to do to get a shot at that opportunity is submit a video and resume and then compete against other kids who are deserving of an opportunity of a lifetime.
| Randy Covitz, firstname.lastname@example.org