Weekends are unpredictable as it is. Now throw in some rain, flash floods, and crazy lightening. Then add in some fast cars with a ginger lion behind one wheel and a former football player cheering in the stands. The combination is one epic event that spans beyond even your wildest Saturday and Sunday. This all happened this past weekend at the Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan, but it wasn’t the perfect storm for a total disaster. In fact, we wouldn’t have had a better time if there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. The unbelievably uncertain situation shaped up to become a defining “Defy the Doubt” moment.
On any given weekend, NASCAR fans have learned to expect unpredictability as one of the race course’s only constants. This weekend was no different. The NASCAR Quicken Loans 400 race was pummeled with heavy rain, thunderstorms, and lightening, but the race went on as always. Lucky for us, the bad weather didn’t cancel our plans to hang out with Cole Whitt (aka The Ginger Lion) and spend some off-the-track time with him and his sponsor Speed Stick.
We have followed Cole Whitt on his journey with Speed Stick from the beginning and, now that he has reached the next level as a sophomore driver, we had a chance to sit down with Cole. He told us all about his defining “Defy the Doubt” moment while we caught up.
Tam: So you’ve been at this, your sophomore year, second year, do you feel you’ve had your defy the doubt moment yet?
Cole Whitt: I think it’s constantly evolving. People don’t expect us to really succeed in this a lot. We’ve also kind of come in working with the smaller teams, we’ve been the third team on the smaller teams a lot, so this 35 team last year didn’t really run a whole lot of races. And the races it did run were, you know, a lot of them were just kind of run in back.
We’ve been able to take the third teams and turn them into a team that can make races and consistently try to improve. Last year we did that with the 26; started a fresh team and were able to get them in the top 36 in points and stay there throughout the season. And I think we’re doing that again this season, so that’s something that I’ve seen people try with these teams and haven’t been able to accomplish a whole lot.
To do that its been nice, but at the same time, we always want more, so that’s why I say it’s always a constantly evolving wheel. Just to get in and establish here isn’t enough for us. We want to take that next step, we want to be a top 25 team. Then if we get there, we want to be a top 20 team.
It’s constantly always people doubting us and don’t think we can do it, but we’re here to prove them wrong.
VIDEO: NASCAR Slow Motion Pit Stop
Oh, and that football player we mentioned was none other than former Detroit Lion Nate Burleson, now an analyst for the NFL Network. An unlikely pair, Cole and Nate teamed up to promote “Lionblood.” The brand was founded by Burleson and has introduced a limited edition t-shirt for this young, up-and-coming driver affectionately know, by NASCAR fans as the Ginger Lion. Nate made a special appearance at the track to sign some autographs with the driver of the #35 at the Speed Stick #DefytheDoubt fan zone and to promote his associate sponsorship of Cole’s NASCAR run.
We see Cole as the young and up and coming driver that is much like a young Lion ready to lead his pride. He has that Lionblood in his DNA to get to this level in his sport and he has a drive in him that will not stop until he is a Champion. ~ Lionblood
Cole hasn’t won his first race, but he is showing everyone that he deserves to run with the big boys of NASCAR. He lead a lap at one of NASCAR’s most coveted tracks, Talladega, during the Geico 500 and had his best finish in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series finishing 13th in the same race. People may not be placing all their bets on him behind the driver’s seat, but so far he is living up to his nickname and turning some heads. With the help of his sponsor Speed Stick, he may just take defying the doubt to the next level.