After a quiet year for new winners in 2018, the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series is having quite a year for newcomers to victory lane.
Spencer Boyd‘s Talladega Superspeedway triumph made him the fifth first-time winner in the series in 2019, with three races still to go before the season’s end. He’s the first new winner since Stewart Friesen at Eldora Speedway, and he also joins the likes of Austin Hill, Ross Chastain and Tyler Ankrum as first-timers.
Comparatively, 2018 saw just one new victor in the series: Justin Haley.
That doesn’t exactly make 2019 a record-breaking year; in fact, a record at all is completely unattainable.
But with just one more first-time winner in 2019, the Truck Series could have at least six maiden victories for just the second time since the mid-2000s.
Currently, the mark of five ties the marks of four other years in the 2010s. Between 2015-2017, the Truck Series saw five new winners each season, while 2013 also introduced three victory lane debuts.
One more new winner would place 2019 as the second best of the decade behind 2012, which also happens to be the all-time mark for the most first-time winners in series history.
That year, of the 17 different winners throughout the season (out of 22 races — how’s that for variety?) — nine were first-time winners. Some will be familiar as competitors still in one of the NASCAR national series to this day: Parker Kligerman, Ryan Blaney and Ty Dillon. Then there are the others, including former series champion James Buescher, John King, Justin Lofton, Joey Coulter, Cale Gale and Nelson Piquet Jr.
With three races to go… well, no record-tying year — let alone record-breaking — for the 2019 crop of newbies.
But should one more new driver point their way into victory lane at either Martinsville Speedway, ISM Raceway or Homestead-Miami Speedway, we’d be looking at a mark that, outside of 2012’s sort-of-an-outlier count, would be the biggest otherwise since 2005. The new winners that year? Ricky Craven, David Reutimann, Brandon Whitt, Bobby Labonte, Steve Park and some flash-in-the-pan guy named Kyle Busch.
In the event the season sees at least two first-timers, the number would hearken back to the 1990s. In the series’ first four years of existence, three of them possessed seven first-time winners.
First came 1995 — I mean, no shock here, it was the first year of the Truck Series as a whole. Seven different drivers won that year, none of whom are still competing in the national series — though Ken Schrader has an ARCA start this year.
Then, 1997 featured a group that also doesn’t race on the national level anymore, though some are still around the sport, such as now-spotter Tony Raines. Another familiar name: Keselowski, as in Brad Keselowski‘s father Bob.
And in 1998? Well, again, no current national series competitors, but like Raines, Andy Houston remains in the sport as a spotter.
Each of those years would be exceeded if a newcomer won each of the final Truck Series races, giving 2019 eight different drivers in victory lane for the first time. Doubtful.
…right? Well, check it out. Three of the full-time drivers in the series without a win in their career race for strong teams: Sheldon Creed for GMS Racing and Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton for Kyle Busch Motorsports. The latter suddenly has a bit of a weight off his back with the announcement he’s going Xfinity Series racing next year for Joe Gibbs Racing. The other two have either had near-misses keeping them from winning this year, have been steadily improving lately or both.
Eh, OK, still probably not gonna happen. But hey, good job, new guys!
About the author
Rutherford is the managing editor of Frontstretch, a position he gained in 2015 after serving on the editing staff for two years. At his day job, he's a journalist covering music and rock charts at Billboard. He lives in New York City, but his heart is in Ohio -- you know, like that Hawthorne Heights song.
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