TRACKING THE CHANGES: Truck Series Silly Season
From one season to the next, NASCAR is never short of changes as there are always drivers in new rides entering another year of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series racing.
The first edition of TRACKING THE CHANGES left a lot to be desired as there was a lot up in the air at the time. However since then, a lot of confirmations have come to light.
Here is what has been confirmed as of January 30, 2018.
Christopher Bell will move up to the NASCAR XFINITY Series with Joe Gibbs Racing in 2018 after winning the 2017 Truck Series Championship.
Harrison Burton will continue his development as a driver, as he will return to Kyle Busch Motorsports. The son of former NASCAR driver Jeff Burton will run nine NASCAR Camping World Truck Series behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra, beginning with Martinsville Speedway on March 24.
KBM’s boss, Kyle Busch, will also be behind the wheel once again, running five events in 2018.
The 2015 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Champion will compete in two races behind the wheel of the No. 4 Toyota Tundra, beginning with Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, followed by Kansas Speedway (May 11). He will then drive three events behind the wheel of the No. 51, beginning with Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2, followed by Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 18) and Pocono Raceway (July 28).
After a successful rookie campaign in the Truck Series, Noah Gragson will once again drive the No. 18 Tundra in 2018 for Kyle Busch Motorsports, featuring sponsorship from Safelite AutoGlass. Last year, the Las Vegas native placed 10th in the year-end standings with 13 top-10 finishes, highlighted by his first career series victory at Martinsville Speedway.
Davis’ first race with KBM will come at Daytona International Speedway in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra on February 16. He will then also run the second event of the year at Atlanta Motor Speedway on February 24, before competing next at Texas Motor Speedway on June 8, and Michigan International Speedway on August 11. He will also drive the No. 4 Toyota Tundra at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on March 2.
Jones’ first race with KBM will come at Kansas Speedway on May 11 behind the wheel of the No. 51 Tundra. He will then drive the No. 51 at Chicagoland Speedway on June 29, Kentucky Speedway on July 12, Las Vegas on September 14. He will also compete in the No. 46 Toyota Tundra at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 18.
Herbst’s first event will come at Gateway Motorsports Park in the No. 51 Toyota Tundra on June 23, before driving the No. 46 Tundra at Las Vegas on September 14.
Todd Gilliland may not start off the year eligible to run every single NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event, but he will still compete in the majority of the races for Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2018. Set to turn 18-years-old on May 15, the second-generation racer will drive the No. 4 Toyota Tundra in 19 events, hoping to take home the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award.
Kyle Busch Motorsports confirmed that Todd’s father David Gilliland will drive the No. 4 Toyota for the truck series season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. A veteran in NASCAR, he has made 332 career starts in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, and has scored a pair of poles and a career-best third at Daytona.
Gilliland also made headlines when it was announced his race team, David Gilliland Racing (DCR), had partnered with the CROSLEY Sports Group to form DGR-CROSLEY. DGR-CROSLEY bought the Mooresville, North Carolina race shop and assets from Red Horse Racing. The ownership plans to not only field trucks, but also Late Models, K&N Pro Series, and ARCA cars together. They have yet to confirm their driver line-up, though.
Entering their 23rd season of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, ThorSport Racing’s trucks will carry the blue oval as they have partnered for Ford Performance for the upcoming year and beyond. Over the past 22 years, Duke Thorson has won 16 events and scored 300 top-10’s in series competition. The team won their first championship in 2013 with Matt Crafton, and followed it up with another year later. Crafton will return for a 14th season, with continued sponsorship from Menards.
Ben Rhodes is set to embark on his third full season of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and it will be filled with familiarity. He will once again drive for ThorSport Racing, behind the wheel of the No. 41 Ford.
2015 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards Champion Grant Enfinger will be back with ThorSport Racing in 2018, behind the wheel of the No. 98 Champion Power Equipment/Curb Record Ford F-150.
Justin Fontaine is set to go full-time for the first time in the Truck Series, driving for Niece Motorsports. After making his series debut at Martinsville Speedway in 2016, he has since made two more starts, including a 15th-place finish at Pocono Raceway.
Kaz Grala will move up to the XFINITY Series with JGL Racing in 2018 after winning at Daytona and placing seventh in the year-end standings.
Brad Keselowski Racing closed their doors at year-end after nine years in the series. Both of their drivers Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe will move over to Roush Fenway Racing in the XFINITY Series, set to split the schedule with Ty Majeski.
John Hunter Nemechek is set for a partial schedule with Chip Ganassi Racing in the XFINITY Series next year after spending the past five seasons in Truck competition, winning five races. No plans have been announced by Nemco Motorsports for the No. 8.
Johnny Sauter announced at the season finale that he will return to GMS Racing once again, hopeful of repeating the team’s 2016 crown.
Justin Haley will drive the No. 24 Chevrolet Silverado once again in 2018 for GMS Racing with primary sponsorship from Fraternal Order of Eagles. The 18-year-old was strong last season, scoring three top-fives and 12 top-10’s in 21 races, while capturing his first career pole at Texas Motor Speedway. He will once again have Kevin Bellicourt calling the shots on the pit box.
GMS then signed Dalton Sargeant to drive the No. 25 Chevrolet Silverado. The 19-year-old has shown speed the past couple of years in both the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR K&N Pro Series. Over the past two years, he has scored four ARCA wins and scored a runner-up in the 2017 year-end standings. He has also made 18 K&N Pro Series starts in both the East and West combined, scoring a win and 10 top-five finishes. Sargeant was part of the 2015 NASCAR Next Class.
Cody Coughlin will return to the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this year, but with a different team, as he will drive the N. 2 JEGS Chevrolet Silverado for GMS Racing. The 22-year-old has made 35 starts to date, scoring a career-best third-place finish at ISM Raceway last season. Coughlin spent 2017 at ThorSport Racing for his rookie campaign.
Austin Wayne Self will run the full schedule in 2018 for Niece Motorsports. He has ran the majority of the schedule the past two seasons, mostly for AM Racing which is owned by his father Tim Self, with a career-best second at Daytona in February 2017.
Parker Kligerman will return with Henderson Motorsports, as they increase their limited schedule from seven to 10 races in 2018. Last year, Kligerman was able to score five top-10’s, including scoring the team’s first career victory at Talladega Superspeedway.
POPULAR SPEED asked whether the team would consider running a full schedule down the road, but Kligerman admitted they “are a bit of ways from that right now.”
“But I think there’s an element of fun in what we’re doing, and that’s just showing up and trying to win races and get to victory lane,” he added. “As I said before, it’s very unique. So unless we’re fully prepared and in a top level situation to run for a championship, I don’t think we’re going to sacrifice a chance to win races just to be able to run all the races.”
After scoring his first career top-10 finish last year, Jesse Little is set to expand his involvement in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Little will drive the No. 97 family-owned JJL Motorsports Ford in a minimum of eight to 10 events, with room for the schedule to grow. They will make their 2018 season debut at Atlanta Motor Speedway in February’s Active Pest Control 200 benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.
Robby Lyons will be running the full schedule for Premium Motorsports behind the wheel of the No. 15.
Jordan Anderson confirmed that he will return to the truck series, ready to reveal his new team and number at the NASCAR Hall of Fame on January 31, 2018.
After a successful breakout campaign in 2017, Hattori Racing Enterprises will once again run the full truck schedule in 2018. However, Ryan Truex will not be returning to the driver’s seat, as he moves up to the XFINITY Series with Kaulig Racing. This past season, Truex guided the No. 16 Toyota Tundra to two poles, eight top-five’s, and 13 top-10’s.
Hattori has yet to announce his replacement, though.
After running a pair of events last season, Jason Hathaway has expressed in interest to return to the series once again in 2018.
“In a perfect world, I’d like to run CTMP (Canadian Tire Motorsports Park) in the truck and I would like to try a mile and a half oval,” he told POPULAR SPEED. “In a perfect world if all the stars align, if things happen for me, that’s what I would like to do this year.”
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