By MIKE MALLETT
Billy Whittaker’s run in the Billy Whittaker Cars 200 didn’t come to the end he was hoping for. The Central Square, N.Y., driver crossed the line 18th. Unfortunately had things gone differently, he probably would have found himself on the podium for the main-event. There is no doubt Whittaker had one of the fastest cars all day long, but circumstances didn’t play out for him the way they should have.
“What a story it would have been to finish top three in Billy Whittaker Cars 200,” said Whittaker afterwards. “It’s bittersweet. We know we were good. It was fun, it was a blast and at the same time it sucks. We put on a show for a little while and it was fun.”
Whittaker started the race from the inside of the eighth row. A spot he improved by a couple positions at the beginning of the race moving him just outside the top ten. From there he rode it out as the track took rubber and locked down on the bottom. He remained there before hitting pit road around lap 60.
“Early on it rubbered up and we settled into 12th or 13th,” mentioned Whittaker. “It was a nice pavement race. We were just cruising. We figured we’d maintain tires and see what we got. We had a pit stop around lap 50 or 60, I’m not exactly sure. We came in, everyone came in. We changed tires, took fuel and came back out. We had a miscue on pit road and ended up dead last. I looked up and thought that this day sucks. We are in the rubber at the end of the line.”
With seemingly all hope lost, Whittaker went for broke taking his LJL Kevlar powered Bicknell to the outside for the green flag. Surprisingly to him and everyone watching, it stuck. From there he worked from the tail of the field to the runner-up spot. It seemed as only Whittaker and Peter Britten had found the outside.
“I figured they would get bottled up for a while after that restart on the bottom so I went to the top,” cited Whittaker. “I went to the top and 50 laps later I’m in second place.”
On lap 148 Whittaker lost the second spot to Larry Wight. Now in third, he paced himself again holding his own while fending off challenges from Danny Johnson and Stewart Friesen. Whittaker ran in this position until lap 176. That’s when things took a drastic turn for the worse.
As Whittaker raced into the third corner after a restart, Friesen attempted to get below him. He slid up and made contact with Whittaker sending him spinning in the fourth turn. Whittaker was able to continue, but not before showing his displeasure with Friesen under the yellow.
“I haven’t seen the video so I don’t know what happened,” said Whittaker about the incident. “Objective people have come up and said it was a raw deal, but I don’t know yet. I think it was, but again I don’t know. I’m more disappointed, if that was the case, that there was no call from DIRTcar. It was just an unfortunate deal. I hate it for my guys, hate it for my team. We worked hard all week. We were a show. Period. We drove around everybody except for Peter. I got him at one point, but he got the line and got back by me in traffic. So we literally passed every race car out there.”
At that point, Whittaker ended up mired in the back for the rest of the race. His 18th place finish in no way tells the story of the great day he had until the unfortunate incident with 24 laps to go, but fans in attendance knew he was there and watched his impressive run from the back to the front. He shared the spotlight with Britten right until the end.