Race Weekend Central

Taylor Gray Learning the Aggression & Ropes of the Truck Series

Taylor Gray continues to be a rising prospect making a name for himself in NASCAR. After making starts in the ARCA Menards Series, ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West the past couple of seasons with David Gilliland Racing, Gray got his shot in the team’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series No. 17 Ford. He made five starts in 2021, recording his first top 10 with an eighth-place finish at Martinsville Speedway. 

In 2022, the 17-year-old returned with DGR and has made several starts among the three ARCA Series, winning five races and sitting second in the ARCA East standings. He has also returned to the No. 17 in the NCWTS, where he has competed in six races so far in 2022.

Gray’s breakthrough start nearly came at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park last month, a race where he attained the lead with just two laps to go. Just as it was looking like Gray would earn his first career win, John Hunter Nemechek turned him and sent Gray’s hopes up in smoke. 

Frontstretch caught up with Gray at Richmond Raceway a few weeks back, where he finished sixth, a career best. He discussed the aggression of the Trucks, any potential grudge with Nemechek, his future in the sport and what it has been like racing against his brother, Tanner Gray

Luken Glover, Frontstretch: What have you learned in your part-time season in Trucks and what has stood out the most?

Taylor Gray: It’s been hard because we’ve had issues of not being able to finish races. The majority of the time, we’ve gotten wrecked before we finish the second stage almost every race. It’s hard to say.

At IRP, I feel like we were able to show what we can do when we don’t get wrecked by other people making not so smart decisions. We were at the front in the end and didn’t get to finish it off, obviously.

I think it’s been a learning curve with how aggressive everybody is compared to what I’ve been used to. So just amping the aggressiveness up has definitely been something I’ve had to learn. Besides that, it’s been hard racing. You’re racing as hard as you can every single lap, and here on to [the NASCAR Cup Series], that’s how it is. So just learning and getting adapted to that has been pretty good so far.

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Glover: Going back to IRP with John Hunter Nemechek, is there anything there as far as bad blood or are you looking to just stay focused on the task?

Gray: Yeah, I’m focused on my race team and performing to the best of our abilities. That’s out of my control. If he wants to race like that he can, but it’s not going to go very far. I’m focused on what we do and how well we get our race car.

Glover: Have you talked with him since that incident?

Gray: No, I don’t really have any use to talk to him or any reason to talk to him. He’s tried to reach out but I haven’t reached back out to him.

Glover: Coming here [at Richmond] for the first time, what has that learning curve been like as you go to tracks for the first time?

Gray: Just doing all the normal stuff you do in other weeks … SMT, film, and notes and stuff and talking with my Ford teammates Zane [Smith] and Tanner. Just stuff like that where you’re learning from them. You kind of just have to show up here and be fast right off the bat, especially with these guys; it’s usually pretty close. So having to get up to speed right off the bat and firing quicker off the bat has been the biggest thing.

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Eyes on Xfinity: Zane Smith Perfect for Ford, RFK Xfinity Rebuild

Glover: Racing with Tanner, how cool has that been growing up together and now getting to race each other on the track?

Gray: Yeah, it’s cool. We’ve always raced each other pretty clean and we’ve never had issues with each other. It’s been pretty cool so far.

Glover: If it comes down to you two on the last lap, what’s the gameplan there?

Gray: You know, I don’t know. I guess we’ll have to see in that situation. We’re running for an owner’s series championship, so that’s a tough question to answer, I guess. It is what it is. If we’ve got a fast race truck, I have no doubt in my mind that we’ll be able to contend for a win at the end of the day.

Glover: As far as the long-term future, are there any talks for that?

Gray: Right now, I’m just focused on myself this year and trying to win some more races. We’ll start to focus on that more once the season starts to wind down and come closer to an end, but right now, I’m focused on making our trucks faster and contending for more wins.

Glover: Where do you feel like you all have excelled this year in your short time together?

Gray: I feel like on the ARCA side we’ve picked up quite a bit of speed with our new racecar and our new bodies. Me and Chad Johnston [crew chief] have worked together, I guess this would be around two years now. We’ve picked up a lot of speed in the Trucks as well.

Just being able to work with my whole group together for a long amount of time, getting acclimated with everybody for a long period of time obviously helps. We’ve picked up on overall speed and have to keep working on gaining more speed.

About the author

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Luken Glover joined the Frontstretch team in 2020 as a contributor, furthering a love for racing that traces back to his earliest memories. Glover inherited his passion for racing from his grandfather, who used to help former NASCAR team owner Junie Donlavey in his Richmond, Va. garage. A 2023 graduate from the University of the Cumberlands, Glover is the author of "The Underdog House," contributes to commentary pieces, and does occasional at-track reporting. Additionally, Glover enjoys working in ministry, coaching basketball, playing sports, and karting.

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