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Truck star Whitt getting noticed

Cole Whitt is getting noticed and not just by fans and competitors in the NASCAR Truck Series.

Whitt, a 19-year-old from Alpine, Calif., leads the Truck points standings in his rookie season with incredible consistency.

While he hasn't won yet, he has finished no worse than 14th in the first seven races, has five top-10 finishes and is the only driver in the series to complete every lap of competition.

"Our team has been consistent all year long," said Whitt, who'll turn 20 on June 22. "The Cup guys have been running so strong. We've just been consistent, and we're out-running the guys we need to.

"This team has been spot on, and the truck has been fast."

With the Truck series off this weekend, Whitt will make his season debut in Saturday's Nationwide race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He's driving the No.99 Toyota fielded by Pastrana Waltrip Racing. While scheduled for just one race, it's likely to turn into more as the season goes on.

Whitt ran a strong second to race winner Kyle Busch two weeks ago at the Truck race at Dover, Del., then added a third-place finish last weekend at Charlotte, which catapulted him to the series lead.

"I think he's got something going on over there," Busch said of Whitt, a Red Bull Racing development driver currently on loan to Turn One Racing. "He's fast - he's quick week-in and week-out.

"Dover was the first one that he really, really contended for - that I've been in anyway. He did a great job."

Whitt, whose only previous NASCAR experience is a handful of Nationwide and Truck starts and running last season in the K&N Pro Series East, is making a good impression throughout the sport.

Busch, a Sprint Cup Series regular who also competes frequently in the Truck series with his own team, isn't the only Cup driver taking note of Whitt's talent.

During a rain delay of the Nationwide race at Dover, Mark Martin was asked by ESPN's Brad Daugherty who were some of the young guys who caught his eye as future superstars.

Martin's immediate response? "Cole Whitt."

"Cole has really got my attention," Martin said. "He did an incredible job (at Dover) and has really been coming on strong. He really has only had a few races in these big stock cars."

Whitt has been racing - and winning - for more than half his life. On BMX bikes, in karts, sprint cars and midgets. There was no question his career path would eventually lead to NASCAR.

"That's what I've always looked up to," he said.

In 2006, Whitt won the Hoosier Sprint Car rookie of the year award. The next year, he bounced between the United States Auto Club and local tracks, earning 34 top-10 finishes in 60 starts.

Whitt broke through in 2008, claiming the USAC National Midget championship to become the youngest USAC champion in the sanctioning body's 58-year history. He also finished fourth in the USAC National Sprint Car Series. He totaled 11 wins in 80-some races.

In 2009, he finished second in sprints, sixth in midgets, won two USAC Silver Crown events. Last season, he ran the K&N Pro Series and made a combined three starts in Nationwide and Trucks.

"We're right there," Whitt said of his strong start to the 2011 season, "but at the same time we take it race by race.

"Every race is a like a lap. We just need to make every lap and race for wins."

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