TriStar Motorsports owner Mark Smith announced Dec. 7 the addition of Eric McClure to the organization's driver lineup for 2011, further extending the team's presence in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.
Beginning with the Drive 4 COPD 300 in Daytona, McClure returns to the Chevrolet family and will pilot TriStar Impalas for a full Nationwide Series season.
The Hefty brand, one of the longest-running sponsors in the Nationwide Series, will continue its relationship with McClure for a sixth consecutive season by serving as primary sponsor in all 34 scheduled events.
McClure, a 31-year-old native of Chilhowie, Va., will be competing in his fifth full season of Nationwide Series competition. McClure finished a career-best 17th in Nationwide points in 2009 and has 137 series starts and three Sprint Cup Series starts to his credit, with a best finish of 15th and 26th, respectively.
TriStar Motorsports began as a Sprint Cup Series team in the late 1980's before evolving into Pro Motor Engines, a thriving independent engine building company providing horsepower to teams in each of NASCAR's top three series. The team returned to Nationwide Series competition in 2010 with drivers Tony Raines, Jason Keller and Jeff Green, scoring a top-five, and three top-10 finishes.
The team's car number, as well as other program details will be announced at a later date.
Eric McClure Quotes:
What are your expectations for the 2011 season and being with a new team?
"I'm looking forward to joining TriStar Motorsports in 2011. They have a great nucleus in place and as a multi-car team this past year was able to accomplish quite a bit of success and grow their race team. I think that's a testament to the quality drivers and personnel they had, and certainly Mark Smith, who is a racer in every sense of the word. He reminds me a lot of my father and his brothers when they built their team up over the years. Our responsibilities at TMI are first to find the best home for our sponsorship partners, and secondly, the best place for me to grow as a driver, and I think this presents a great opportunity for our program to be maximized on all fronts. I feel like the final two New Car races this season were my best events in the last half of the year as far as overall performance, so I think we all hope to have a solid, competitive season as the series utilizes the New Car full-time. We have some other things we are working on that, hopefully, we can announce soon that I think are pretty cool and will be beneficial to me and to TriStar's organization.
On Hefty brand returning for its sixth consecutive season:
"I, as well as everyone at TMI, am just so appreciative of our relationship with the Hefty brand. This will be our fifth full-time season together, our sixth year overall, and I'm just so privileged that they continue to support our efforts in the NNS. When we started our partnership I never dreamed it would grow to be one of the longest partnerships in our series."
"We owe a special thanks to the race fans that, regardless of whether or not I'm their favorite driver, continue to support the Hefty brand and their quality products at their nearest retailer. We strive so hard to create a positive image for the brand and their customers, and it's evident they've been pleased with the result. We've developed a great off-track promotion we will announce soon that will reward some of those fans and we look forward to having the opportunity to give something back to the racing community."
Mark Smith, owner of TriStar Motorsports quotes:
"I am excited to have Eric McClure and the Hefty brand join our TriStar organization. I believe we have been able to assemble a dynamic group of individuals that will result in a competitive upcoming year of racing. Eric has proven to be a solid competitor and is focused on the same goals that we have here at TriStar. So, with a company like Hefty behind Eric and TriStar, I am anxious to see what we can accomplish in the 2011 Nationwide Series season now that we have joined forces."