MOORESVILLE, N.C. – TriStar Motorsports officials announced Tuesday that Corey LaJoie and Cole Whitt will split the driving duties of the team’s No. 72 Chevrolet during the upcoming Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
LaJoie comes to TriStar after driving for BK Racing last year and competing in 32 of the 36 Cup races during the season. He will pilot the TriStar No. 72 in the majority of the schedule, including the season-opening Daytona 500 on Feb. 18.
Meanwhile, Whitt will return for a partial schedule after driving full-time for TriStar last year, having decided to decrease his racing commitments and only compete on a limited basis this time around.
Whitt, 26, has competed in 148 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races over the course of his seven-year career. The Alpine, California native scored his career-best Cup Series finish of 11th at Daytona Int’l Speedway in July of 2016 and nearly equaled that effort with a 12th-place run at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with TriStar last July.
His Brickyard 400 effort was one of three top-20 finishes for Whitt last season during TriStar’s return to full-time Cup racing.
“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,” said Whitt. “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.”
LaJoie, a third generation racer, is the son of former NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Randy LaJoie. He has made 34 NASCAR Cup Series starts during his career, also scoring victories in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and the ARCA Racing Series.
The younger LaJoie has a best finish of 11th in NASCAR Cup Series competition, coming at Daytona in July.
“It’s such a great opportunity to work with TriStar Motorsports,” said LaJoie. “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.”
“We are taking a different approach with our competitive platform for 2018 by utilizing two drivers,” added team owner Bryan Smith. “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 Motorsports has acquired a charter from Front Row Motorsports for the upcoming season and will continue competitive efforts under the direction of crew chief Frankie Kerr.
Sponsorship details on the No. 72 will be announced at a later date, as will plans for the TriStar XFINITY Series program.
CREDIT: TriStar Motorsports