Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
LaJoie, Whitt to Split Cup Series Ride
After a solid first year in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, TriStar Motorsports will once again field the No. 72 Chevrolet throughout the season. However, it comes with a twist.
Rather than running a single driver in each event – as they did in 2017 with Cole Whitt, it will become a shared seat for the new season. Whitt returns, set to share the schedule with Corey LaJoie. LaJoie will run the majority of the schedule, including the Daytona 500.
“We are taking a different approach with our competitive platform for 2018 by utilizing two drivers”, said Bryan Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports. “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.”
A third generation racer, LaJoie has made a name for himself, winning six times in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, with an additional three ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards victories. The 2012 NASCAR Next Alumni ran 10 XFINITY events in 2016 with two top-10’s, before moving up to Cup in 2017. He scored a season-best 11th at the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
“It’s such a great opportunity to work with TriStar Motorsports,” said Corey 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.”
The move comes following a request from Whitt to “decrease his racing commitments” and a request for “a limited schedule,” per the team’s press release. He has been competing in NASCAR for seven years, with 2017 marking his first full Cup campaign. As a rookie, Whitt picked up three top-20 finishes, with a season-best 12th place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“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.”
TriStar Motorsports also confirmed they have leased a charter from Front Row Motorsports, and Frankie Kerr will remain on the pit box as crew chief.
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