Competing at the Daytona 500 is a dream come true for most NASCAR rookies, but for Cole Whitt, it’s just part of the big plan. The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie took to the track and traded paint with the best of the sport, all the while earning himself a reputation as a fighter. 

The action started early for Whitt. He recovered from an incident in practice to run to a photo finish in the first Budweiser Duel, one of two 60-lap qualifying races, having recovered five grid places over the final lap of the race. We spoke with him on the day of the Duels, here’s what he had to say.

Race day at the Daytona 500 brought with it a new set of challenges: a six-hour rain delay and problems in the pits. But Whitt kept fighting and battled his way up to the front of the pack, holding fourth against the likes of Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Brad Keselowski.

An accident involving Ryan Newman took Whitt and his Swan Racing teammate, Parker Kligerman, out of the race, though Whitt looks at the positives. He mixed it up with some of the best in the business and he’s earned the respect of his fellow drivers. You can follow Cole Whitt on Twitter and on his website as the rising star fights to take Rookie of the Year for 2014.

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[via Youtube]