Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: Cole Custer, Gray Gaulding Among Storylines to Watch at Martinsville

After starting the season with back-to-back races at Daytona and Atlanta, the Camping World Truck Series entered into a month-long hiatus. Finally, that off time is over as drivers return to the track at Martinsville Speedway this weekend.

It’s a chance for those under 18 to spotlight their talent, creating a healthy entry list at 36 drivers for 32 positions. Along with an influx of drivers, there are plenty of storylines to keep an eye on…

JR Motorsports Makes Truck Series Debut

Cole Custer, who holds the distinction of being the youngest polesitter and race winner in the Truck Series at just 16 years old, will help JRM make its series debut on Saturday. The organization began in the Xfinity Series in 2006 and currently holds a championship (Chase Elliott, 2014) and 23 victories. Custer will pilot the No. 00 Haas Automation Chevrolet in a total of 10 races this season.

“After a long offseason, I’m more than ready to get to the racetrack. It’s exciting to be coming back at a track like Martinsville with Haas Automation and JR Motorsports,” Custer said in a team release. “Our goal is to pick up where we left off last year. Martinsville is a place where we have shown speed before and I feel like we can run fast again this weekend. It’s still a learning experience for me. Managing the traffic there will be a challenge. That’s something I’ll be focused on.”

In nine starts last season, Custer posted a single victory, two poles and six top-10 finishes. His other races scheduled this season include Dover International Speedway (May 29), Gateway Motorsports Park (June 13), Iowa Speedway (June 19), Eldora Speedway (July 22), Bristol Motor Speedway (Aug. 19), Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (Aug. 30), New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Sept. 26), Martinsville Speedway (Oct. 31) and Phoenix International Raceway (Nov. 13).

Gray Gaulding Leaves NTS Motorsports for Red Horse Racing

(Photo: Red Horse Racing)
(Photo: Red Horse Racing)

This Monday brought a couple of different announcements related to Gray Gaulding, who ran nine races with NTS Motorsports last season. Originally set to run eight races behind the wheel of the No. 20 Chevrolet for the organization, the two parted ways effective immediately.

“I am very appreciative of Gray [Gaulding] and everything that Gray Gaulding Racing did to help NTS Motorsports during their time with us,” said team owner Bob Newberry in a team release. “I wish them nothing but good luck in the future.”

Not long after that news hit my inbox, another tidbit followed from Red Horse Racing announcing the return of its No. 7 team with none other than Gray Gaulding piloting the truck, bringing along sponsor Krispy Kreme. The announcement coincided with a groundbreaking for a new Krispy Kreme location in Clemmons, N.C. As of press time, the 17-year-old is scheduled to run only Martinsville for RHR but is working on scheduling other events. Butch Hylton will sit atop the pit box for Gaulding.

“This is a awesome opportunity for myself and Krispy Kreme,” Gaulding said. “We have had a relationship with Toyota and Toyota Racing Development (TRD) for several years and when the opportunity came to partner with Red Horse Racing, it was a dream come true. Walking into that facility just three days ago and seeing the teamwork, professionalism and how everyone was working together I knew instantly this is where I needed to be to compete in the Camping World Truck Series. Red Horse Racing, Toyota, and Triad Racing Technologies really stepped up to make this happen so quickly for me.”

In those nine starts last season, Gaulding posted just a single top-10 finish. He currently holds a career-best finish of fourth after leading five laps at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park last August.

Worth Noting

  • Ben Kennedy will attempt to back up his career-best finish of third, set at Martinsville last spring and matched the last time the series raced in Atlanta. Kennedy has finishes of fourth, third and 16th at Martinsville.
  • Matt Tifft, who signed on with Kyle Busch Motorsports to share the No. 51 Toyota with Daniel Suarez and owner Kyle Busch, will run this weekend with Venturini Motorsports. In four career Truck Series starts, he has a single top-10 finish, an eighth-place result at Martinsville last fall.
  • John Hunter Nemechek will make his first start of the 2015 season this weekend. The 17-year-old has six top 10s in 12 career starts and led 53 laps at Gateway Motorsports Park last June.
  • Super late model racer Paige Decker will make her Truck Series debut this weekend with Mike Harmon Racing. She was approved by NASCAR to run the race 10 days ago and hopes to build enough experience for the sanctioning body to allow her to run three Xfinity Series races later this year.
  • 16-year-old Jake Griffin will make his Truck Series debut this weekend with MB Motorsports. As of right now, the deal is for just a single race, but according to an interview with Popular Speed, Griffin hopes to run at Gateway and Eldora, pending sponsorship.

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