Tha Sports Junkies 101

Cole Whitt And TriStar Motorsports: Chemistry Turned Into MENCS Surprise

Cole Whitt and TriStar Motorsports During 2017 Daytona 500 Practice NASCARMedia

The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season so far has come with a lot of surprises and shock. But, one may not be as surprising as the combination of Cole Whitt and TriStar Motorsports.

The two have integrated paths of struggle and success. TriStar Motorsports has been an on-off team in the NASCAR ranks since the late 80’s. Owned by Mark Smith, the team entered the 2017 season with 206 starts in MENCS. They’re most known for fielding Loyd Allen Jr. into the 1994 Daytona 500 pole, one of three for the rookie that season.

Cole Whitt has 121 career starts in the series, and was once a highly touted development driver for Red Bull Racing. However, after the team shut down at the end of the 2011 season he was in a career changing bind. After spending a season in XFINITY with JR Motorsports after RBR’s demise, he found his way with Mark Smith’s team.

The combo then went on to decent success as the team became a respectable mid-pack team in the XFINITY Series. However, Smith’s attempt to return to NASCAR’s top level never found success and was a start-and-park entry between 2012-2013. The effort however is most notable for the late Jason Leffler’s last CUP start in 2013 at Pocono.

But, when Mark Smith announced his return to the MENCS just weeks prior to the Daytona 500 this year, he tapped Cole Whitt to drive the 72 entry. This time, it has worked out to even the shock of a lot of competitors and fans a like.

They led 3 laps and finished 18th in the season opening Daytona 500 despite the short time to prep the Florida Lottery Ford. The combo has since continued to run modestly and avoiding trouble with only one DNF this year at Phoenix. Additionally, the team has top 25 finishes at Atlanta, Martinsville, and Bristol.

Overall, when you look at the early season surprises this young NASCAR Season has produced. The chemistry between TriStar Motorsports and Cole Whitt has been one of the most overlooked and surprising. The two spent years together grinding in multiple series, although with different intertwining paths. Now, they’re having respectable mid-pack runs in NASCAR’s top series and keeping out of trouble. Look for this underdog duo to keep howling for the rest of the season.