Teaming up for the second time this season, Cole Whitt and Gold Bond were eager to pick up where they left off. The 22-year-old made his second start at the 2.45-mile road course located in the "Finger Lakes" region of New York. Whitt raced as high as fourth before bringing the Gold Bond Camry home in the eighth position, claiming his career-best finish at the challenging road course and giving Gold Bond their highest NASCAR Nationwide Series finish to date.
Starting from the 17th position, Whitt was quick to capitalize on an early caution to gain track position. While running in the 15th position on lap 15, Whitt radioed to Crew Chief Randy Cox "I need more grip". Coincidentally, the following lap a full course caution occurred. Cox instructed his crew to "be ready in case the leaders come in". When the leaders hit pit road for their first stop of the day, Whitt followed suit. The Gold Bond pit crew flawlessly put on four fresh Goodyear tires and a full tank of Sunoco race fuel, sending Whitt back to the track in the 18th position.
The event's second caution came out on lap 25, and Whitt brought the No. 44 Gold Bond Toyota in for fuel only. Restarting in the 19th position, Whitt returned to the track with 53 laps to go. Not long after the restart, the caution flag flew again for fluid in the esses. Whitt and his crew opted to stay out on track to gain track position. With pit strategy in full effect, Whitt restarted his Camry in the ninth position.
Whitt made quick work of the competition, racing his way into the fourth position with 29 laps to go. With one final pit stop in order, Whitt brought his Gold Bond Toyota to pit road for a green flag pit stop. The crew outfitted his Camry with four tires and fuel, returning him to the track 21st.
The final caution fell with 25 laps to go and Cox reassured Whitt, who was sitting in the 21st position, that they were "good to go (on fuel) until the end". Restarting in the 16th position, Whitt weaved in and out of traffic gaining eight positions in the closing laps to finish the Zippo 200 in eighth spot.
"Pit strategy and clean pit stops really helped us this weekend," said Whitt. "I'm glad we earned a top-10 for Gold Bond. I'm really happy with our effort; it showed what we're capable of."
Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Watkins Glen was the 10th race for Whitt and TriStar Motorsports, marking his second top-10 of the season with the team. Matching his career best finish on a road course, Whitt helped the No. 44 team maintain the 20th position in the Nationwide Series Owner Points Standing. Whitt will have this weekend off and will be back behind the wheel for the Food City 250 at Bristol Motor Speedway on Friday, August 23rd.