TriStar Motorsports will continue to field the No. 72 entry in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
However, the team announced Tuesday afternoon that the seat would be split, with the bulk of the races to be run by 26-year-old Corey LaJoie (pictured above), who joins TriStar after a rookie season with BK Racing. Cole Whitt was the primary driver last season, but has “elected to decrease his racing commitments and has requested a limited schedule” for 2018.
“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 (below) said in a team release. “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.”
Whitt earned 12 top-25 finishes for the team last season, finishing 33rd in points.
LaJoie finished a career-best 11th last July at Daytona. He has 34 starts in the Cup Series.
“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 [team owner] Bryan [Smith] while honoring the legacy his dad, Mark, left behind.”
TriStar Motorsports will again run the full season and again lease a charter from Front Row Motorsports. Frankie Kerr will remain the team’s crew chief.
“We are taking a different approach with our competitive platform for 2018 by utilizing two drivers,” Smith 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.”
Sponsorship details for the No.72 Chevrolet will be announced at a future date.