Sunday’s Cup race at ISM Raceway was the last NASCAR race for Cole Whitt, TriStar Motorsports announced on social media after the race.
The team said Whitt, 27, “has elected to hang up his helmet and step away from his life behind the wheel.”
A native of Alpine, California, Whitt has made 242 starts across NASCAR’s three national series since 2010. Sunday’s race was his 161st Cup start. He finished 25th.
Whitt said before the season he was “looking forward to taking the next step” in his life “and trying to spend most of my time with my family.”
Last month, Whitt told frontstretch.com “It’s been a slow, steady drive of me to get away from racing and move back to be around family and friends and to live a normal life. That’s been a drive for the past couple of years.”
Whitt competed full-time in Cup from 2014-15 and 2017.
Whitt split time this year in the No. 72 Chevrolet with Corey LaJoie, making 13 starts.
The best season of Whitt’s career came in 2012 in the Xfinity Series. Driving the No. 88 for JR Motorsports, Whitt earned four top fives, 14 top 10s and finished seventh in the standings.
Bittersweet day for us as one of our all-time favorites has elected to move on to the next phase of his life. Thank you @ColeWhitt for the memories!! We’re going to miss you but are happy that you are following your heart and wish you the very best!! pic.twitter.com/hWqAFfGI5U
The biggest disappointment of Justin Allgaier‘s NASCAR career has turned into “the best thing that’s ever happened” to it.
It only took “about a week” for the 31-year-old driver to accept that.
The JR Motorsports’ driver is one of the four competing for the Xfinity Series title in today’s Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway (3:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN).
It was in this race a year ago that Allgaier was within arm’s reach of a possible championship, his first in NASCAR.
But it was snatched away on the final restart.
With three laps to go, Allgaier restarted in the third row on the outside. In front of him was fellow championship driver Erik Jones. In front of Jones was Cole Whitt in a car normally found toward the back of the pack. Whitt had not pit under the caution because his team had used up its tire allotment.
At the green flag, Whitt spun his tires and backed-up the outside lane. That allowed Elliott Sadler and Daniel Suarez to get separation from Allgaier and Jones and race each other for the win and championship, which Suarez claimed.
Before Allgaier could come to terms with anything positive from the experience, he spent the following week just wanting to be left alone.
“If I could have locked myself in a dark room and not talk(ed) to anyone, I’d have been perfectly okay with that,” Allgaier said Thursday during the NASCAR championship media day in Miami Beach, Florida.
Allgaier got back in touch with those year-old feelings this week when he watched a replay of the race while flying to Florida.
“It still bugs me that we didn’t have a shot because of somebody else’s decision,” Allgaier said.
But Allgaier views the end of the 2016 race through a wiser lens. One where he accepts there’s only so much he can do in a 200-lap race against 39 other drivers.
“What if I had broken a transmission or run into the wall a little bit too hard on one of those times that I got (into) the wall like 37 times in the race last year and cut a tire?” Allgaier said. “What if a meteor fell out of the sky? … There’s so many things that, when you have 40 competitors on the racetrack every week, there’s so many things that can happen that are out of your control.”
His attitude has been helped by the best year of his career. Allgaier enters the championship race with a career-best two wins – including at his home track Chicagoland Speedway.
Allgaier also leads all Xfinity regulars with 497 laps led.
“I look at 2017 as we have done everything we can do up to this point,” Allgaier said. “We’ve had the best race cars I’ve ever had. We’ve had great pit stops. We’ve got guys that work together on the race team that are incredible. I feel like for me personally I’m in the best shape of my life, on and off the track. I’m in the best place mentally.
“And at the end of the day, no matter what happens on Saturday night, I know that we have the best product on the racetrack and we’re in the best position we can be. And if it doesn’t work, it’s not because we weren’t in the right spot or because we didn’t do things right. It’s because circumstances are out of our control. And that’s taken so much pressure off of me this year.”
BRISTOL, Tennessee – Frankie Kerr, crew chief for the No. 72 driven by Cole Whitt, will be working hurt during tonight’s Cup Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The TriStar Motorsports crew chief was injured Friday on pit road when Whitt’s car fell on him during practice.
The incident broke his right scapula and bruised his sternum and ribs, but the 56-year-old crew chief still will be on his team’s pit box for the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race (7:30 p.m ET on NBC).
There are no garage stalls at the 0.533-mile track, leaving teams to work on cars on pit road.
Whitt’s car was being placed on a jack stand when the accident occurred, Kerr told ESPN. Kerr was underneath the front of the car when it fell.
“It must not have been high enough, and they hit it again with the jack, and that’s when it fell over and the jack stand wasn’t in,” Kerr said “It landed on me and basically squeezed the air out of me.”
Kerr was taken to the hospital and released later in the day. In addition to some cuts, the front splitter of the car left a visible line on his body. Kerr’s right arm is in a sling today.
“It never entered my mind (to go home). I just won’t be able to help on the car as much,” Kerr said. “I’ll do what I can and call the race and go home and thank God we have a week off (next week).”
The story is a detailed account of the he-said, he-said relationship between the driver and owner, with Gaulding claiming he wasn’t getting paid and Devine saying Gaulding defaulted on payments of a $2 million deal that had been struck with the driver’s family marketing firm, GGR Enterprises, in January.
Devine claims Gaulding owes $560,000 in sponsorship money, while owing him $1.36 million overall from the deal.
The story also details the problems other drivers – including Landon Cassill and Cole Whitt – have had with BK Racing, which was founded in 2012.
Kyle Larson and Clint Bowyer each will sit out 30 minutes of Saturday’s final Cup practice for failing inspection before last weekend’s Monster Energy Cup race at Kentucky Speedway, NASCAR announced Friday.
They are among 11 Cup teams and seven Xfinity teams that will miss practice time this weekend because of inspection issues at previous events.
Four Cup drivers – Landon Cassill, Gray Gaulding, Cole Whitt and Michael McDowell – will each miss 15 minutes of practice in today’s practice session, which runs from 11:30 a.m. – 12:55 p.m. ET on NBCSN and the NBC Sports App. Each is penalized for being late to inspection before last weekend’s event at Kentucky.