(photo courtesy Jason Smith/Getty Images)
Junior Motorsports has announced that they have signed Cole Whitt to drive the JRM #88 Chevy in the Nationwide Series for the 2012 season.
Whitt, a 20-year-old native of Alpine, Calif., will also compete for Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year honors. He comes to JR Motorsports from the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, where he finished ninth in last year’s championship standings with one pole, two top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. To date he is the youngest driver ever to win the USAC National Midget championship.
“Cole is the guy we wanted, and we’re lucky to get him,” team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. “He’s got raw, untapped talent, but we are most impressed with his ambition. I sought advice and input from people I respect in the industry, and the overwhelming consensus was that Cole has the potential to do great things in this sport.”
The signing of Whitt completes the 2012 driver line-up for JR Motorsports, which will compete in Nationwide Series competition with Whitt in the #88 Chevrolet, Danica Patrick in the #7 Chevrolet, and Earnhardt Jr. in select races in the #5 Chevrolet. All three drivers will compete in the season-opener at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 25.
“This is a big opportunity for me, and I’m happy to be a part of the JR Motorsports team,” said Whitt, who was introduced to employees Wednesday morning. “I’m grateful to Dale, Kelley and everyone at JR Motorsports for giving me this chance. It’s an honor to work with the Eurys, and I will do everything in my power to put this No. 88 team where it belongs in Victory Lane.”
Whitt got his start racing karts and saw immediate success with eight International Karting Federation championships and two World Karting Association grand national championships. He was the Hoosier Sprint Car Rookie of the Year in 2006. In that same year, Whitt earned 34 top-10 finishes in 60 USAC starts in 2007 before winning the championship in 2008. Whitt advanced to the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East in 2010, promptly notching two poles and finishing fourth in points in his first year.
I believe that the combination of Cole Whitt and JR Motorsports will make a very big impact in the NNS this year. Whitt will be stepping into some very competitive equipment in 2012, and therefore, should be in contention for the NNS driver championship.
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!