Originally written on Race Review Online  |  Last updated 11/12/14

JR Motorsports has signed Cole Whitt to drive its No. 88 Nationwide car, replacing departing driver Aric Almirola.

The 20-year-old will compete for the Sunoco Rookie-of-the-Year and will be teammates with Danica Patrick, who is also embarking on her first full season of Nationwide competition.

Last year in the Camping World Truck Series, Whitt compiled two top-five and 11 top-10 finishes. He finished ninth in the series standings and also won a pole.

One of NASCAR's most promising up-and-coming stars, Whitt has progressed quickly through the NASCAR ranks.

After growing up racing karts and midgets, Whitt's NASCAR ventures began with a bang just two years ago. He won two poles and finished fourth in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings in 2010. The future is bright for the redhead as he continues to ascend the NASCAR totem pole.

“This is a big opportunity for me, and I’m happy to be a part of the JR Motorsports team,” said Whitt. “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.”

Team owner Dale Earnhardt Jr. hopes that Whitt will continue to develop as a driver in the Nationwide Series.

“Cole is the guy we wanted, and we’re lucky to get him,” 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.”

Whitt takes over the No. 88 from Aric Almirola, drove for JR Motorsports for one season. Almirola scored seven top-five and 18 top-10 finishes in 2011, placing fourth in the Nationwide standings. He is moving to the Cup Series ranks in 2012, where he will pilot the famed No. 43 machine for Richard Petty Motorsports.

With Whitt taking the wheel of the No. 88, yet another potential ride for David Ragan and Brian Vickers has been taken off the table. Ragan and Vickers lost their 2011 Cup rides when their teams shut their doors due to a lack of sponsorship, and so far neither has been able to sign a deal to race in 2012.

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