By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
TriStar Motorsports announced Tuesday they’ll continue competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series with drivers Corey LaJoie and Cole Whitt sharing the No. 72 Chevrolet. LaJoie will make his team debut in the 60th running of the Daytona 500 on February 18 with Schluter Systems as his primary sponsor.
TriStar also acquired a charter from Front Row Motorsports, guaranteeing them a spot in the race. Frankie Kerr will continue to be on top of the pit box, calling the shots for both drivers.
LaJoie said he’s looking forward on building his Cup experience after scoring one top-15 last season in 32 starts.
“It’s such a great opportunity to work with TriStar Motorsports,” LaJoie said. “I hope to use the learning experiences from my 2017 Rookie Season and work hard for some great finishes this year. It’s my goal to continue building a successful team with Bryan, while honoring the legacy his dad, Mark left behind.”
Whitt said part of the decision running a limited schedule was to spend more time with his family after running the No. 72 car full-time last season, highlighted with a 12th place effort at Indianapolis and leading three laps in the Great American Race.
“I want to thank TriStar and the Smith family for allowing me to do something I feel is the right decision for me and my family,” Whitt said. “I am excited and a little nervous to say that I will be racing a limited schedule this year. I am looking forward to taking the next step in my life and trying to spend most of my time with my family. Stepping back from racing is a hard choice but I strongly believe this is the right path. TriStar has been an amazing blessing to me and my family and I look forward to what the future holds for both of us.”
TriStar Motorsports owner Bryan Smith, who took over his father Mark’s operations after his death last July, said he wanted to take a different approach by having two drivers in his car.
“We are taking a different approach with our competitive platform for 2018 by utilizing two drivers”, Bryan said. “It is an opportunity we feel is the best direction for this season and accommodates the goals of both drivers as well as the team. We are more than pleased with Cole’s efforts in 2017 and are extremely glad to have him back this season. He has been an integral part of our return to the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series and we appreciate his contributions to our team. We are equally as pleased to add Corey to our driver roster. His attitude, desire and ability are a welcomed addition and we feel he will be a great fit. We feel both drivers embody the core elements of who we are as a team and are confident each will contribute to the betterment of our program.”
TriStar will look to capture its first top-10 finish in Cup since March 1996 at Bristol when Dick Trickle finished 8th.