GUEST COLUMN: Local pro-truck driver Whitney Poole leaves her mark at local track
Whitney Poole (l) practices her #00 Chevrolet Taylor Racing Products Pro-Truck at Orlando Speedworld (Photo by Karen Pistone)
by Karen Pistone
Editor’s note: Karen Pistone is the force behind the Racingal’s Fan2Fan blog (http://racingal.com), a NASCAR fan blog which is an exceptional resource for race fans. For instance, after the past weekend’s events at Daytona, Karen posted six suggestions that would help to make the experience an even better one for fans.
Fan2Fan is an outgrowth of Pistone’s original The Fifth Turn blog, which was a part of the race page on the website of the OrlandoSentinel, where Karen works as a production artist. Production duties recently changed. causing Karen to shift her focus and move her blog to the current location.
A professed race fan for the past 25 years, Karen attended many races at Dover until relocating to Orlando in 2002 where she currently attends races at Daytona International Speedway and Miami-Homstead Speedway.
Karen’s racing heritage is impressive- she is reticent to talk about it, but I think it deserves mention: Her grandfather-in-law is former NASCAR driver “Tiger Tom” Pistone. There’s also her brother-in-law, Tom Pistone, who has his own chassis building warehouse in Statesville, NC – Performancenter Pistone LTO — and who also races, as well as cousins Tommy III, Nick and Chase. All four family members will be racing against each other at the Legends Million Dollar Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway next week, July 15-17.
And as a true race fan, Karen goes anywhere the action is to be found–whether it’s out to Daytona International Speedway for the Coke Zero 400 or to the local track at Orlando Speedworld for Friday night racin’ with friends.
The following post Karen wrote about a particular Orlando Speedworld driver who looks to be on the right track for the big time. Karen graciously agreed to have it reprinted here.
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At times, I think local racing is more exciting than a NASCAR Cup or Nationwide race. You know how it is: Less rules for the drivers, and they actually let ’em race! Local tracks are also great breeding grounds; some pretty awesome drivers can emerge. They have to start somewhere, right? And nothing beats watching all those young guns (and then some) racing, bumping and grinding, doing whatever it takes trying to get that victory!
Recently I headed out to Orlando Speedworld (where I’ve become a regular) for some “local” racing under the lights. I had also invited my Orlando Sentinel “posse” along, and we all met out at the track.
I asked them to watch this one driver and to let me know what they thought. This driver had caught my attention earlier last year during the Orlando Speedworld season opener, finishing second. I wanted confirmation from other fans about what I’d been wondering: Did I want to support this driver just because she was the only female currently racing at that track — or was it because she could really race and kick some butt, holding her own up front racing with the guys, taking no BS from anyone?
The driver I’m talking about is 19-year old Whitney Poole from Vero Beach, FL. Whitney started her racing career at the age of 8 racing Go-Karts. Over the years she accomplished 104 wins, 155 Top-5’s and 162 Top-10 finishes in that league.
By the age of 17, Whitney worked her way up to motorsports driving in the Sportsman class. In 2007 she grabbed 2 wins, 6 top-5 and 17 top-10 finishes, and was named Orlando Speedworld’s Winter Series Sportsman Champion.
Whitney also participated in the Grand Slam of Trucks “Touring Series,” completing the four-race series 5th in points out of 34 teams and wining 2009 Rookie of the Year honors.
Whitney is in her second year of racing in the Taylor Racing Products Pro-Truck Series. Last year she drove the #00 ’95 Chevy to 2 top-5 and 8 top-10 finishes and finished fifth in points for the Orlando SpeedWorld 2009 season.
Whitney getting ready to run some practice laps as Dad Randy pats her helmet for luck. (Photo: Karen Pistone)
Poole’s crew consists of her Dad (and Crew Chief) Randy Poole, and Mom Kimberly Poole, who takes photos and video and is also an associate sponsor. Her pit crew includes Don Abrams, Brian Lynch Sr., Brian Lynch Jr., Bob Hall, Darrell Hubler, Eddie St. Angelo, James Barrett (spotter) and her best friend Sam Myberg (team scorer).
For the past couple of years, Whitney has been racing against some top teams – including Daytona’s and NASCAR’s France-Kennedy clan, Ben Kennedy (son of Lisa France Kennedy). To date, Whitney has yet to win a Taylor Racing Products Pro-Truck Series race.
Whitney Poole (#00) running ahead of the #96 of Ben Kennedy at Orlando Speedworld. (Photo: Karen Pistone)
Here’s a recap of some Poole racing action, excerpted from the Orlando Speedworld race program:
… Orlando Speedworld had a full race for the second straight Friday night. Without question, the race of the night belonged to the Taylor Racing Products Pro-Trucks. … After a brief caution with just 3 laps remaining, the restart saw Scott Reeves (#55) going from the top spot with Whitney Poole (#00) alongside. Row two was Anthony Sergi (#20) and Ben Kennedy (#96). … Reeves got the jump and quickly regained the lead while Sergi and Poole went side-by-side for second and after a little rubbing in Turn 1, Sergi cleared Poole, who then, following suit, took third with just two laps to go… as they raced side-by-side, Reeves got sideways…Kennedy crossed the finished line, winning, Reeves took second and Poole, third…
As it turned out, my workplace “posse” confirmed my thoughts about Whitney — they were all as impressed with her as I was. “She can drive the wheels off that truck,” said one. “She wasn’t scared of anything!!”
I asked Whitney what the significance was to having the #00 on her truck. She replied, “When I was a little kid, my dad worked on the crew (tire changer) of the #00 Hooters Pro Cup Team of Curtis Davis, so that had an influence. But when I was 8 years old, I thought it (the number) was cool because my last name was “Poole” and we would put P(00)LE on my go karts.”
Currently, Whitney’s sponsors include Advance Auto Parts, Terri O’Connell (GoTerrioGo.com) and Kimberly Poole Photography. She is currently looking for a main sponsor for the remainder of the 2010 season as well as for 2011. Orlando Speedworld is considered her “home track;” However, Whitney has competed in some select races at New Smyrna Speedway in New Smyrna Beach, FL and is currently racing a limited schedule there as well as at Orlando Speedworld and Punta Gorda Speedway.
Poole applied for NASCAR’s Drive for Diversity in 2009 but didn’t quite make the cut. It’s a tough program to get into, but Whitney isn’t giving up. She says she will keep on racing, and hopes the experience she gains will help her into Drive for Diversity.
Whitney is currently a full-time student at Keiser University, majoring in Business Marketing. She currently holds a 3.5 GPA after five semesters. She is also enrolled in online schooling so she can continue with her racing career.
As with everyone else trying to meet the demands of our sluggish economy, 2010 has been a tough year for Whitney. Her main sponsor had to pull out for reasons that were beyond her control.
One thing that had me laughing as we were sitting in the stands shooting the breeze was Whitney’s reply when asked if her truck was hard to drive.
“Compared to a car that has a manual transmission, oh yeah, my truck is easy to drive!”
Whitney Poole takes time to sign autographs for her fans out at Orlando Speedworld. Right: Whitney Poole has fans of all ages – as seen here with Gavin Koors, 6. (photos: Karen Pistone)
Having finished her race, Whitney headed down to the track where all the other drivers had gathered with their rides, to talk to and sign autographs for fans.
In addition to having a wonderful, warm and outgoing personality, Whitney handles herself like a professional and takes her racing very seriously. Racing is what she loves to do and will continue to be her focus, and maybe, just maybe, Whitney Poole will someday have her dream come true and find herself as the first female driver to win a race in NASCAR.
If you’d like to support Whitney Poole and her racing efforts, you can now buy Whitney Poole Motorsports team shirts for only $12 through her Facebook Fan Page – Whitney Poole Motorsports – or by email at Poole00@gmail.com. You can also keep up with Whitney’s racing through her website at WhitneyPoole.us.
Whitney Poole with Karen Pistone. Keep up the great work, gals!