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NASCAR UPDATE: StandOut Retreat Alum, Stacy Compton
Compton sees benefits of using race team to develop up-and-coming drivers
By: Damien Sordelett
There’s nothing like bringing two rookie drivers to Martinsville Speedway’s paperclip oval for a Camping World Truck Series race.
But it’s another thing to have both drivers finish on the lead lap and one contend for a victory as Stacy Compton’s two drivers did Saturday in the Kroger 250. Cole Whitt finished sixth after starting second and Justin Marks finished 21st, the last truck on the lead lap, for TurnOne Racing.
“With Cole and Justin, I feel like both of them are some of the best talent coming through the sport in a long time,” Compton said. “It’s a good opportunity for us. Good timing and pretty excited. Obviously, both teams are rock solid right now.” Compton, a Hurt native and former driver in all three NASCAR national touring series, has allowed his team to help develop up-and-coming drivers who have displayed the talent to make an impact in NASCAR.
Whitt raced exceptionally well last season in the K&N Pro Series East and has continued those solid runs in the Truck Series. Whitt, in the No. 60 Red Bull Chevrolet, is tied with Danville resident Timothy Peters for third in the points standings, seven behind leader Johnny Sauter. “I’d rank him right up there with anyone’s that been helping me in the past,” Whitt said of Compton. “He’s done a lotmore than a few people have. It’s been a huge help. It’s just so easy to go to him and talk to him. It makes it easy. It’s kind of like having a friend there and being able to talk to a friend, but at the same time get good advice. That’s probably the biggest thing is having a friend that can also give you advice.”
Whitt’s crew chief, Marcus Richmond, has been through the rigors of helping a driver make it in the series while also learning the ropes himself. Richmond was Peters’ crew chief in the Late Model ranks and came up with him to Bobby Hamilton Racing when Peters got his first shot in the Truck Series.
Richmond is using some of those lessons to help Whitt in his transition.
“Working with Timothy just throughout the years, I had to learn a lot. When we really started, both of us were learning together,” Richmond said. “That really gave me a big lesson. Now that if I can help Cole any, which the good thing about it, it’s been very, very short and easy transition with Cole. He’s adapted so well. Some people just have it a little bit better than others in adapting to the stock cars.”
While Compton and Richmond have been instrumental in the development of Whitt, Douglas Wolcott has done the same as the crew chief for Marks. Driving the No. 66 GoPro Chevrolet, Marks has posted his best starting spot of the season (22nd) and his second-best finish of the year. “It’s a huge asset for anybody that has limited experience can have. These series are so competitive and these tracks, especially a track like Martinsville, the line is so fine in being in the ballpark competitiveness-wise and being completely out to lunch,” Marks said. “Having somebody telling you what to expect and how the truck’s going to react … is hugely crucial. It’s definitely a good thing for both of us.”
The drivers’ tango with Martinsville came out better than either could have anticipated. The results obviously bring a smile to Compton, who hopes the down the line he has the opportunity to align himself with a Sprint Cup Series team to field either a full-time Nationwide Series team or a partial-season Cup Series team.
Either way, he’s finally getting the opportunity to showcase what he’s able to do as an owner with two quality drivers who bring full sponsorship to the rides.
“I feel like I’ve got a little bit of experience and can help them a little bit along the lines during the race. We’ve got a great team with both crew chiefs. They’ve done a great job in assembling guys,” Compton said. “I’m a small part of it and glad to be a part of it. I feel like we’re at least going to have a little hand in getting these guys on down the road. I truly feel like next year Cole will be gone and probably sitting in a Cup car and I think Justin’s got the potential as well. We know we won’t keep them long, but at least we have a little part in getting them down the road.”
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