|Base||Denver, North Carolina|
|Race drivers||#8 Blake Koch
#10 Jeff Green
#14 Cale Conley
#19 Mike Bliss
#44 David Starr
|Sponsors||#8 LeafFilter North Inc
#19 Tweaker Energy Shot
#44 Zachry Group
|Races competed||NSCS: 197
TriStar Motorsports is a racing team that competes in the NASCAR Xfinity Series. They currently field the #8 LeafFilter Toyota Camry for Blake Koch, the #10 Toyota for Jeff Green, the #14 Toyota for Cale Conley, the #19 Tweaker Energy Shot Toyota for Mike Bliss, and the #44 Zachry Group Toyota for David Starr. They also field a #91 car on occasion. The team competed in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series primarily during the early to mid 1990s, suspending racing operations in 1997 and continuing on as Tri-Star Motors, and later Pro Motor Engines, supplying engines to many NASCAR teams prior to returning to competition in 2010.
- 1 History
- 2 Nationwide Series
- 3 Sprint Cup Series
- 4 Pro Motor Engines
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Winston Cup 1989–1998
Tri-Star made its debut in 1989 at Talladega Superspeedway. Driver Ron Esau finished 38th after wrecking the #18 Pontiac. Brad Teague made the team's second start at Charlotte Motor Speedway with Mello Yello but finished 31st after suffering engine failure. Barn Animals sponsored Hut Stricklin's #68 entry at the 1990 Daytona 500, and fielded the #18 for him at Atlanta Motor Speedway, where he finished. Tri-Star switched to the #68 at Talladega Superspeedway, and Stanley Smith wrecked the Interstate Batteries car and finished 37th. The team finished their first race at Michigan with Mike Chase finishing 24th. They ran the #68 with Country Time Lemonade sponsorship and Bobby Hamilton driving in two races, with a best finish of 28th.
In 1991, Tri-Star ran full-time with Hamilton and Country Time again sponsoring their Oldsmobile. Hamilton had four top-ten finishes and finished 22nd in points, winning Rookie of the Year honors. They began 1992 with no top-ten finishes, and later switched to Ford Thunderbirds, allowing Hamilton to get two top-ten finishes and finish 25th in points. After failing to finish higher than 15th eight races into the 1993 season, Hamilton was released. Greg Sacks drove for the rest of the season, with Dorsey Schroeder filling in at the road course races, and Loy Allen driving at Phoenix International Raceway.
Allen was named the full-time driver for the 1994 season, in addition to Tri-Star switching to the #19 and getting Hooters sponsorship. Allen won the pole for the Daytona 500, becoming the first rookie driver to do so. He also qualified on the pole at Atlanta and Michigan, but failed to qualify for twelve races that season and finished 39th in points. Allen and Hooters left Tri-Star at the end of the year, and Phil Parsons took over the driving duties for the first five races of the 1995 season with Ultra Custom Wheels sponsorship. After the first five races, the team cut back and did not run any races until the Winston Select 500, when Allen returned to the team with Healthsource sponsoring the car. In their first race back together, Allen and Tri-Star qualified second and finished tenth, Allen's career-best finish. Tri-Star ran a limited schedule for the rest of 1995, with Ron Fellows driving the 68 at Watkins Glen, and Allen driving the 19 during the rest of the season.
Healthsource signed for a full season of sponsorship in 1996, but Allen suffered a severe neck injury at the second race of the season at North Carolina Speedway, causing him to miss the next ten races. Dick Trickle filled in the interim, placing eighth at the Food City 500. Upon Allen's return, Tri-Star again moved to a part-time schedule, getting a best finish of 21st. Healthsource left the team at the end of the season, and Child Support Recovery took its place. After two races into the 1997 season, Allen was released and Gary Bradberry replaced him. After failing to qualify for the Miller 400, Child Support Recovery was dropped by the team due to lack of funding and racing operations were suspended again.
In 1999, they leased their shop to SBIII Motorsports and built engines for them. Following the team's closure near the end of the season, Tri-Star reacquired its equipment and fielded the #48 FansTeam Ford for Stanton Barrett at the 2000 Daytona 500, but did not qualify.
Although Tri-Star no longer fielded a team, they continued to build engines for various teams. Known as Pro Motors Engines, they have built engines for numerous teams, including Front Row Motorsports and their Sprint Cup Series teams until the end of 2009, ML Motorsports, MSRP Motorsports, and Mark Smith's own Tri-Star Motorsports beginning in 2010 in the Nationwide Series, Kevin Harvick Incorporated along with many other teams in the Camping World Truck Series and the ARCA RE/Max Series. The company has won Camping World Truck Series championships in 2003, 2004, and 2009, along with PME winning the MAHLE Engine Builder Showdown for 3 years in a row.
Return to NASCAR competition
After a nine-year hiatus from fielding race teams, Tri-Star acquired the Nationwide team owned by Front Row Motorsports, and fielded three cars in 2010, the former FRM team #34 for Tony Raines, a new team, the #35, for Jason Keller and ran the #36 on a part-time schedule. The team used their own PME Motors.
#8 car history
In January 2015 the team announced that Blake Koch would run the full season, in a new number 8 car with crew chief Bruce Cook. LeafFilter Gutter Protection will be the primary sponsor. Koch opened the season with a 20th place finish at Daytona.
#10 car history
The #8 began as the #36, which was a third car in 2010 with Tony Ave and Jeff Green behind the wheel, running as a start and park operation. The team used the prize money used to fund the #34 and #35 teams. Green drove the car again at Daytona as a start and park. Charles Lewandoski drove the car at Phoenix. Green drove the car for most of the season as a start and park, but was replaced for 3 races by Angela Cope. For 2012 the team changed number to 10, and Green once again drove the car as a start and park. However, when Green moved to the #14 after Eric McClure's injury, Tony Raines and Kevin Lepage became the temporary drivers until McClure returned at Road America.
Green ran the majority of the races in 2013 as a Start and park again. Cole Whitt moved over from the #44 car and ran the full race at Bristol in August, finishing tenth with Gold Bond as the sponsor. Mike Bliss ran the car at Homestead with his usual #19 occupied.
In 2014, Blake Koch and Jeff Green ran the majority of the races, mostly as a Start and park. David Starr ran the car competitively at Daytona in February. At Daytona in July, Koch had sponsorship from Celsius Negative Calorie Cola, with TriStar bringing five cars to run the full race. During the first round of qualifying, all five TriStar cars were running in a pack when a sudden downpour of rain caused the entire pack to spin out, causing most of the cars including four from TriStar to wreck. Koch, along with the #91 of Benny Gordon missed the race, and the sponsor of the #10 moved over to Mike Bliss' #19. Bliss ran the #10 at Bristol in August as a full race effort while Hermie Sadler ran his usual #19.
Jeff Green returned in 2015 at Daytona in February. After Scott Lagasse, Jr. and the 19 team failed to qualify, Lagasse and sponsor Alert Today Florida moved over to the 10 car for the race, finishing 37th after a crash.
#14 car history
What is now the #14 Chevrolet debuted in 2010 as the #35 Chevrolet. At the time it was a completely new entry, consisting of veteran Jason Keller as the driver and former Rusty Wallace Racing crew chief Bryan Berry atop the pit box. During their first attempt at Daytona, the #35 missed the race due to not having a top-35 points position and being unable to qualify on time. The team would go on to miss the races at Daytona, Las Vegas, and Texas, while successfully making the race Stater Brothers 300 in California, starting 21st and finishing 20th during the team's first race. The team would eventually make the top-35, a notable accomplishment for a team that missed 3 races during the season. The #35 and Keller got their first top 10 finish in the form of a top 5, finishing 4th at Talladega. At the inaugural event at Road America, the team selected Tony Ave to drive the #35, Ave being a road course ace with much success at the track. He qualified the car in 10th place, and was running 5th when he was spun on the last lap of the race, finishing 20th. Antonio Pérez drove the car at Gateway International Raceway, finishing 34th. Tony Raines drove the #35 at Phoenix International Raceway with sponsorship from BeAStockCarDriver.com. The #35 finished 29th in the 2010 owners points.
The team managed to put together some one race sponsorship deals for various races during the season. The #35 and Keller managed to get sponsorship from uPillar.com at Darlington, KEL Chemicals at Dover for Kellers 500th career start, and LubePros.com at Chicagoland speedway. BeAStockCarDriver.com sponsored Keller at Charlotte in October.
The team returned to competition in 2011 as the #14, with Eric McClure and his longtime sponsor Hefty coming along with him from Team Rensi Motorsports. Mike Bliss drove the #14 unsponsored at Dover when the car fell out of the top-30 in owners points. McClure made all 34 races that year, scoring a best finish of 18th at Chicago en route to a 19th place points finish. McClure and Hefty returned in 2012, along with the team's manufacturer switch to Toyota.
McClure started the season in the #14. He ran at the end of the first seven races before a crash at Talladega took him out of action. Jeff Green moved from the start-and-park #10 to the #14 while McClure recovered. McClure returned at Road America, moving Green back to the 10.
A fully recovered McClure remained in the #14.
Eric McClure returned for what was believed to be his final season. He ran at 28 races. Longtime partners Hefty and Reynolds Wrap once again sponsored the car. Teammate Jeff Green piloted the #14 in 5 races: Dover in May, Michigan in June, Mid-Ohio in August, Richmond in September, and Dover again in September. At Mid-Ohio, Green was running second with 20 laps to go when the throttle of the #14 Toyota hung out, sending him head-on into a tire barrier, relegating him to a 29th place finish.
After the season, McClure and Hefty/Reynolds Wrap announced their departure for JGL Racing. Cale Conley will drive the #14 for the full 2015 season, running for Rookie of the Year with crew chief Eddie Pardue.
#19 car history
What is now the #19 team was previously the #34 team from the 2010 season. Tri-Star acquired the team from Front Row Motorsports following the 2009 season. It remained mostly intact, with Scott Eggleston returning as crew chief and Tony Raines returning as the driver of the Long John Silvers entry, and with the previous years owners points transferring over which locked the team into the first 5 races of the season. During the first race for the new team at Daytona, Raines and the #34 lead 3 laps and finished 14th despite being involved in 2 incidents. Alongside his teammate, Raines and the crew scored the seasons first top-10 in the Aaron's 312 at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama, finishing 7th after running in the top-5 for various parts of the race. Raines got his second top 10 of the season at Gateway, finishing tenth. Charles Lewandoski started and parked the #34 at Phoenix International Raceway in November, with Raines in the #35 for that race. Dave Fuge became crew chief of the team in the second half of the season. The #34 finished 23rd in final owners points, with Raines finishing 17th in driver standings in 2010.
The team managed to put together some one race sponsorship deals for various races for during the season. The #34 and Raines was funded by Planet Hollywood Resort and Casino at California, doorstopnation.com at Daytona & Talladega, Continental Fire & Safety at Dover, and Boss Industries/The Walter Payton Foundation at Chicagoland. Front Row Motorsports' owner Bob Jenkins pulled the Long John Silver's sponsorship from the team following the race at Bristol Motor Speedway in August, with BeAStockCarDriver.com sponsoring Raines for the final 4 races of the season. Raines was replaced by Nationwide Series veteran Mike Bliss.
The team returned in 2011 as the #19, and Mike Bliss signed on to drive the car for the 2011 season. Crew Chief Dave Fuge remained with the team but was replaced early in the season by Wes Ward. Fuge now is part owner of Derrike Cope's CFK Motorsports. Ward also left the team early on and was replaced by TRG interim crew chief Paul Clapprood. The team scored 19 top-20 finishes with a best finish of 11th at Lucas Oil Raceway. With limited sponsorship Bliss and the 19 team finished the season 12th in points. For 2012 Bliss was replaced by Tayler Malsam as he brought sponsorship from Green Earth Technologies as well as the team's manufacturer change to Toyota. Venezuelan Alex Popow drove the car at Watkins Glen. Malsam was 13th in points when he and TriStar parted ways after Kentucky, leaving Bliss to return to the 19. Also, Hal Martin competed in three races in 2012.
Mike Bliss took over the 19 once again for the full season. G-Oil and Tweaker Energy Shot sponsored the car. Dakoda Armstrong ran the car at Homestead with sponsor WinField, while Bliss ran the #10. Bliss would just miss the top 10 in points.
Mike Bliss was once again in the car full-time, with Tweaker Energy Shot sponsoring several races. Hermie Sadler ran the #19 at Bristol in August and Richmond in September, with Virginia State Lottery sponsoring, with Bliss moving to the #10.
Mike Bliss is set to return to the #19 in 2015.  Scott Lagasse, Jr. attempted the season opener at Daytona with sponsor Alert Today Florida, but failed to qualify and moved over to the 10 car for the race.
#44 car history
The #44 car was run in 2011 by Jeff Green as a Start and park entry. For 2012, Mike Bliss drove the car with various sponsorship until Dover when he moved back to the #19 and Green took over for the next two races. Hal Martin and John Blankenship finished out the season.
In 2013, Hal Martin ran for Rookie of the year with American Custom Yachts as the sponsor, but only ran the first ten races and then two late in the season. Chad Hackenbracht ran seven races with Ingersoll Rand and Tastee Apples sponsoring. Cole Whitt ran the most races for the team, with several strong runs including four top tens and only one finish outside the top twenty. Whitt was sponsored by Takagi Water Heaters and Gold Bond. Whitt left for Swan Racing in the Sprint Cup series at the end of the season.
For 2014, it was announced that Blake Koch would drive for TriStar full-time, splitting time between the #44 and the #10. David Starr ran the majority of races with the team, with a best finish of 9th at Talladega. Various other drivers have run the #44, bringing sponsorship with them. These include Hal Martin, Paulie Harraka, Carlos Contreras, ARCA driver Will Kimmel, and Matt Frahm.
Hal Martin returned to TriStar's #44 for both races at Iowa Speedway in 2014. Stuart, FL based American Custom Yachts returned as a sponsor for the team (not appearing on the hood), as they did in Martin's first 10 races of 2013. Martin finished 26th and 28th in his two races respetively.
44-year old NASCAR veteran Carlos Contreras has raced all three road courses for TriStar in the #44, with sponsors 38 Special and Voli and regular TriStar sponsor Ingersoll Rand. He posted a strong 15th place at Road America and a solid 23rd place at Watkins Glen International, and finished 21st in his debut at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in August.
26-year old ARCA driver Will Kimmel, nephew of ARCA legend Frank Kimmel, will drive five races in the TriStar #44 in 2014. Ingersoll Rand will serve as the primary sponsor for all five races. Kimmel finished 33rd in his debut at Phoenix and 22nd two races later at Bristol. Kimmel returned to the car in the fall races at Richmond, Chicago, and Charlotte.
New Hampshire native Matt Frahm was announced as the driver at his hometown New Hampshire Motor Speedway in July for his tenth start in the Nationwide Series. Hudson, NH based Gilchrist Metal Fabricating Company funded the car. Frahm finished a sold 25th, but 5 laps down.
NASCAR Drive for Diversity graduate and New Jersey native Paulie Harraka drive the #44 at home track Dover International Speedway in May. The Delaware Office of Highway Safety came on board with their "Click it or Ticket" campaign to raise awareness for traffic safety. Harraka qualified 22nd, and finished a solid 19th after battling back from a pit road incident with Brendan Gaughan. Notably, Harraka was involved in an incident the prior year at the Sonoma Cup race where his 52 car collided with the TriStar #19 on pit road before the race even started.
|2014 driver rotation|
|David Starr||11||Whataburger, BYF.org, Chasco Constructors|
|Blake Koch||10||CompassionRacing.com, Son of God (film), K-LOVE|
|Carlos Contreras||3||38 Special, Voli, Ingersoll Rand|
|Will Kimmel||5||Ingersoll Rand|
|Hal Martin||2||American Custom Yachts|
|Matt Frahm||1||Gilchrist Metal Fabrication|
|Paulie Harraka||1||Delaware "Click It Or Ticket"|
David Starr signed a three-year contract with TriStar and longtime sponsor Zachry Group to run the 44 full-time beginning in 2015. Starr finished a strong 6th at the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, after avoiding 2 big crashes in the late stages on the race.
#91 car history
TriStar occasionally runs a fifth car, usually for the restrictor plate races or as a start and park when the team's usual four cars have full sponsorship.
Jeff Green ran the car at Daytona in February and Auto Club in March, finishing last in both. He finished 39th at Darlington in April and 38th at Talladega in May. SupportMillitary.org & Hefty/Reynolds Wrap have appeared on the car, though not changing the team's start-and-park status. At Daytona in July, Benny Gordon attempted to qualify with BWP bats sponsoring, but did not post a fast enough speed before being taken out in a crash at the end of the first round.
Sprint Cup Series
TriStar attempted to qualify for the race at Watkins Glen in 2010 with driver Tony Ave in the #35 Chevy purchased from Front Row Motorsports, however the team did not qualify. It was the only Cup race Tri-Star attempted that year.
#19 car history
Mark Smith returned to the Cup Series in 2012 by partnering with former HP Racing co-owner Randy Humphrey. As Humphrey Smith Racing, the team fielded Mike Bliss in the #19. The team started fielding the #91 for Reed Sorenson starting at Indianapolis Motor Speedway as well. The team ran a mix of Ford, Toyota, and Chevrolet recycled from other teams for the #91 team, both cars are Start and parks. The #19 team and Bliss had returned for the 2013 season, running a Toyota. They attempted the full Daytona 500 with G-Oil as the sponsor, but failed to make the race. The car was driven by Jason Leffler in the Party in the Poconos 400, three days before he was killed in a sprint car accident at Bridgeport Speedway in New Jersey. Following his death, the team, like others in the racing community, ran "LEFTURN" logos above the driver doors in honor of Leffler.
In 2014, Humphrey left TriStar and started his own Cup operation, the #77 Ford driven by Dave Blaney. Smith did not field an entry in the Cup Series in 2014, and the #19 has since been claimed by Joe Gibbs Racing for its new entry in 2015 for Carl Edwards.
Pro Motor Engines
In addition to his racing operations, owner Mark Smith operates Pro Motor Engines (PME Engines), one of the top independent engine builders in NASCAR as well as ARCA and SCCA. Building and leasing primarily Chevrolet engines as well as the Toyota engines used by TriStar and others, PME-powered teams have won three Camping World Truck Series championships (2003, 2004, and 2009). Engine builders Dennis Borem and Darrell Hoffman also earned three consecutive MAHLE Clevite Engine Builder of the Year awards from 2007 to 2009, beating engine builders from Team Penske, DEI, Hendrick Motorsports, Toyota Racing Development, Roush-Yates, and other top-tier teams.
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