(Photo: Zach Catanzareti)

Cole Whitt: ‘I Just Spun the Tires’

Cole Whitt chose not to pit in the final five laps at the season-ending NASCAR XFINITY Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway, vaulting him from the back of the lead lap right into the lead.

Moments later, he was vaulted right into the center of controversy. Whitt, whose car was already slower than the drivers who made up the XFINITY Series Championship 4, could not come up to speed with older tires.

“I was just trying to give those guys as much room as possible,” Whitt told Frontstretch after the race. “I knew we weren’t going to be able to run with them. And then just spun the tires, couldn’t get going.”

Whitt’s problems caused a jam-up on the outside line, right where title contenders Justin Allgaier and Erik Jones were restarting. By the time the cars hit turn 1, both men’s chances for the title were over as the track position lost was too much to overcome. Both held in their anger in the post-race press conference but were clearly agitated over Whitt’s choice to stay out.

“It’s just kind of insane really,” Jones said. “I’ve never seen anything like it.  He didn’t even attempt to go.  He didn’t spin his tires.  He just sat there and stacked the top line up.  It was pretty disrespectful, really, and I strongly hope that somebody is able to talk to him about that.  I’d really hate to see something like that happen again.

“Why would you stay out in that situation when guys are running for the championship?”

As for Whitt’s side of things, he said it was a decision on top of the pit box he had to respect.

“He just told us to stay out, just told us to go,” he said of crew chief Bryan Smith. “We didn’t have any tires, so we just stayed out and took it.”

Whitt’s crew appeared stunned in the XFINITY garage after the race; there was dead quiet among the crew as it wheeled the No. 14 back to the hauler. Whitt, for his part, appeared to be holding back tears as he quickly ran through a television interview and then walked off, alone, en route to home.

Don’t expect him to get a Christmas card from any of the title contenders anytime soon.

“I don’t necessarily blame Cole,” Allgaier said. “I mean, if he got told to stay out there and stay in the lane he was in, it’s not really any of his doing. [But] there’s nothing you can do in that situation. We didn’t get to race for it at the end, and that’s probably the hardest pill to swallow over tonight.”

XFINITY CHAMPIONSHIP CONTENT

GABLE: Suarez Breaks Through

WOLKIN: XFINITY Series Finale Does Not Define Allgaier’s Season

CATANZARETI: Suarez Dominates Homestead, Worthy Champion

ALBINO: Elliott Sadler Devastated Over Title Loss

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The author of Bowles-Eye View (Mondays) and Did You Notice? (Wednesdays) Tom spends his time overseeing Frontstretch’s 30 staff members as its majority owner. Based in Philadelphia, Bowles is a two-time Emmy winner in NASCAR television and has worked in racing production with FOX, TNT, and ESPN while appearing on-air for SIRIUS XM Radio and FOX Sports 1's former show, the Crowd Goes Wild.

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8 comments

  1. Avatar

    I have a question for Brian.

    Which would you rather have happen? Win a real championship by 100 points or lose a one race crap shoot like that?

  2. Avatar

    Exactly what I was thinking DoninAjax. I really don’t blame the 14 team or driver, because the main goal in racing has always been to win the race, and they were trying to give themselves that chance. However, because of the stupidity of the one race crapshoot championship, it completely screwed up the outcome of who will go down in history as the 2016 “champion”.

  3. Avatar

    Right on posters…What a bunch of crap. “The Chase” is so wrong and this instance highlights a huge problem. But NASCAR got their “first ever to”…bullshitz narrative in high gear already. Viva la…who flucking cares..

    Just pitiful, and I don’t mean Cole Whitt.

  4. Avatar

    As over 12 YEARS ago, I reserved the right to tell ya’, so here we go! ….I TOLD YOU SO!
    Now the NXS has vividly displayed one of many kinks & uncreative flaws the gimmick “chase” format offers. When you decide a motorsports championships in a “classic” manner, all the circumstances of individual races are averaged out over the course of each race in the 33 race (NXS) season, which is the only way a proper & integral motorsports championships can be decided. When you decide things under the farcical guise of a gimmick format like the one Nascar has devised, that culminates in a one race finale (not to mention a race with a GWC finish), you invite the very strong likelihood of deciding the driver’s championship almost entirely independent of anything to do with the championship contender’s driving skill. And you inject circumstances that are wildly outside of the contenting driver’s control into the truncated critical championship equation & elevate non-driver related everyday happenstance to a level that they can & do have critical importance on championship bids. Then you have made the “driver’s” championship minimally about driver’s skill & made it more about which of the contending for is luckiest. And that, my friends, epitomizes the counter-intuitiveness or this “driver’s” championship format, in that is more resembles picking names out of a hat, drawing straws or a lottery.
    Considering how indisputably about drivers skill, perseverance & endurance “classic” formats were, it is now a shame, because the importance of the “classic” formats winning qualities have been utterly obliterated! When you boil a championship down to one race with the “championship four”, not to mention a race with a GWC finish, you might as well assemble all of the crews members of all for these four teams in a darkened gymnasium (to include the entire pit crew & every fabricator in various shops all around the world) & play DODGE BALL IN THE DARK to decide your championships.
    So that is to say, under the guise of this one race championship gimmick format, one loose tire rolling across pit road, one gas can hung up on a car leaving the pit box, or, as it were tonight, one consummate non-contender or back-marker making a perfectly legitimate race strategy call by NOT pitting in advance of a GWC or literally ANY OF AN INFINATE NUMBER of foreseeable, normal, strange &/or wild freak circumstances that are wholly unrelated to ANYTHING under the driver’s guise can & do elevate perfectly legitimate tough luck race circumstances that “normally” have only a minor impact on “classic” formats, to having utterly catastrophic consequences on summarily deciding the championships.
    As it were, #14-Whitt NXS crew made the call to stay out for the GWC as everyone else on the lead lap pitted for new or newer tires. So, on 30 lap old tires, #14 restarted P1 with 2 to go, ahead of 3 of the championship three & side-by-side the forth contender. With easy foreseeability, the #14 stacked up the field & effectively eliminated two contenders (#7-Allgaier & #20-Jones) from the championship. In doing so, with absolutely nothing what-so-ever to do with the championship contenting driver, team or manufacturer talent, effort or performance, the format effectively rendered ALL of these two championship contending teams’ efforts, over the course of the entire season, entirely MEANINGLESS!
    Wtg Nascar! You are your own worst enemy…

  5. Avatar

    Two years in the first Game 7, we had the opposite situation where the #24 car pitted inexplicably (well, probably with some “encouragement” from NASCAR) from 2nd in the running order late in Game 7. The fallout, of course, was Alan Gustafson having to make a hostage video a couple of days later with some halfhearted excuse.
    Regarding this year’s NXS Game 7, you have to wonder what NASCAR’s take would have been if this benefited one of the drivers who wasn’t a graduate of the so-called Diversity program.

  6. Avatar

    Congrats to Daniel …but this does not pass the small test

  7. Avatar

    Perhaps Cole Whitt simply hoped to get his name mentioned on TV for once; Whitt isn’t fortunate enough to drive for a mega-team like Jones and the others, at least not since he was screwed over by JR Motorsports after running much better than Princess Danica in the Xfinity/Nationwide Series years ago. Whitt is a great driver, and the poor guy deserves a great ride, not the crap he’s been forced to run in recent years (not to take anything away from how hard his guys work). These GROWN MEN should stop whining about everything!