Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: What Does 2023 Look Like For the Series?

The Truckers are back.

On Feb. 17, the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series will kick off its season at Daytona International Speedway, and along with a title sponsor change (welcome back Craftsman. You will be missed, Camping World), there are plenty new faces in new places, as well as the return of a couple other old friends.

While the series kicks off at Daytona like usual, the schedule features two new additions – one of them being a return to Milwaukee Mile Speedway in August, in a doubleheader event with the ARCA Menards Series. The truck series last raced in West Allis, Wisconsin back in 2009 – Ron Hornaday Jr. was the winner of that event.

See also
2023 Preseason Power Rankings: Nos. 10-1

Perhaps the most exciting race on the schedule takes place in May, at the iconic North Wilkesboro Speedway. When it was announced that the NASCAR Cup Series would return to North Wilkesboro for the All-Star Race, it seemed to get lost in the excitement that the trucks would be the companion race that weekend. This will be the series’ third trip to North Wilkesboro.

This season, several new faces are in new places, seemingly more so than some previous seasons. Here are the big stories heading into 2023.

ThorSport Racing

ThorSport has shifted back to Ford in 2023 after being with Toyota in 2022. Matt Crafton and Ben Rhodes return to the team, as does Ty Majeski. However, Majeski has shifted from the No. 66 to the No. 98 for the season, replacing Christian Eckes.

The No. 66 is now a part-time truck, to be driven in at least nine races by Conner Jones. ThorSport’s fourth full-time truck will be filled by Hailie Deegan, who moves over from TRICON Garage (formerly David Gilliland Racing) after it switched from Ford to Toyota.

TRICON Garage

At TRICON, Deegan’s former No. 1 truck will be shared by a rotation of drivers, including Jason White, William Sawalich and Jesse Love, respectively. Tanner Gray will return to the team full-time, and his brother Taylor will also compete in the No. 17 (However, he will have to sit out the first three races because he is not of age to compete on those tracks).

Joining the team this season is Dean Thompson, driving the new No. 5, as well as 2022 Rookie of the Year Corey Heim, also driving a new truck, the No. 11. They came from Niece Motorsports and Kyle Busch Motorsports, respectively.

Kyle Busch Motorsports

After Richard Childress Racing won the Kyle Busch sweepstakes, Busch’s team switched to Chevrolet for the 2023 season. Chandler Smith will not return to the team, as he is moving up to drive the No. 16 full-time in the Xfinity Series for Kaulig Racing. The team will run for the championship at the hands of driver Chase Purdy in the No. 4, who joins the team this season along with Jack Wood in the No. 51.

Wood will drive the all-star truck for at least 10 races, with team owner Kyle Busch also scheduled for his regular five race slate. The team has a technical alliance with Rev Racing, who will try its hand at the truck series and promoted its driver, 2022 ARCA Menards Series champion Nick Sanchez, to the full-time ride, driving the No. 2.

GMS Racing

Wood’s former No. 24 ride has been filled by Rajah Caruth. Grant Enfinger returns to the team, while Daniel Dye has been promoted from the ARCA Menards Series, driving the No. 43 full-time.

McAnally-Hilgemann Racing

Meanwhile, Eckes, who will not return to ThorSport this season, has found a home at MHR, driving the No. 19 formerly occupied by Derek Kraus. MHR’s second truck will now be the No. 35 instead of the No. 91, with Jake Garcia running the full season (except Daytona for the same age reason as Taylor GrayChase Elliott will drive the truck at Daytona). Colby Howard did not return to the team and will run the full season in CR7 Motorsports’ No. 9, replacing Blaine Perkins.

Some other changes around the series:

  • Purdy’s former ride, the No. 61 for Hattori Racing Enterprises, has not announced a driver and is expected to focus solely on returning driver Tyler Ankrum.
  • Kraus will drive for Young’s Motorsports at Daytona in the No. 20. Kris Wright returns to Young’s from Niece Motorsports to drive the No. 02 full-time alongside the returning Spencer Boyd in the No. 12.
  • Niece Motorsports will scale down to three full-time rides, for Carson Hocevar and Lawless Alan, while it will field the No. 41 as an all-star truck, with Travis Pastrana, Chad and Ross Chastain, and Bayley Currey all making starts in the truck at some point during the season.
  • Matt DiBenedetto returns to Rackley-WAR for his second season.
  • Bret Holmes will attempt a full-time season with his family-owned team after spending the last few seasons part-time.
  • Hill Motorsports will continue to field one full-time truck for co-owners Timmy and Tyler Hill.
  • Reaume Brothers Racing will field Mason Massey full-time in the No. 33.
  • Stewart Friesen returns for the season, while Halmar Friesen Racing still plans to field its second truck for Friesen’s wife Jessica at the Bristol dirt race and Layne Riggs for an unconfirmed amount of races. Friesen had mentioned to SiriusXM that the team was preparing for the possibility of running Riggs for most of, if not the entire season.
  • On Point Motorsports will scale back to a part time effort, with Chris Hacker and Ryan Vargas scheduled to drive five and seven races, respectively.

Got that all down? It’s okay if not. As with every offseason, it might take a few races to remember and take note of who went where, but when you’re tuning in at Daytona on Friday night, you can have this article out in front of you as a little cheat sheet to remember all the changes. With that, let’s get the 2023 season rolling.

The NextEra Energy 250 at Daytona will take place on Friday, Feb. 17 at 7:30 p.m. ET. Coverage for the race can be found on FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. Currently, he is an editor and co-authors Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the primary Truck Series reporter/writer. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is now a grad student. He is a theatre actor and fight-choreographer-in-training in his free time. He is a loyal fan of the Cincinnati Reds and Carolina Panthers, still hopeful for a championship at some point in his lifetime.

You can keep up with Anthony by following @AnthonyDamcott on Twitter.

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