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The 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season is approaching the halfway point of the season, and just six races remain until the 2023 playoffs begin. Five spots remain, which means five of those spots are already occupied by winners this season.
Surprisingly, none of those winners come from the ThorSport Racing stable.
It’s a little bit shocking to be this far in the season without a driver representing the Sandusky, Ohio-based team locked into the playoffs. The team itself isn’t necessarily struggling, yet the season still feels like a failure to this point.
Ben Rhodes, the team’s most recent champion in 2021, is currently sixth in points, but only has three finishes inside the top six. Aside from those races, he hasn’t finished higher than 10th and most recently was involved in a crash at North Wilkesboro Speedway and finished 33rd.
Three-time champion Matt Crafton is right behind Rhodes in points, running seventh, but has had a wildly inconsistent season. He only has one top five, but managed to notch a stage win at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
There was a lot of promise from the No. 88 stable this season, as 2023 marks the 20-year anniversary since Crafton, ThorSport, and sponsor Menards first partnered together. Aside from that milestone, things haven’t been the brightest for the Crafton camp – well, aside from the sponsor.
Then there’s the newest addition to the team, Hailie Deegan, who effectively replaced an outgoing Christian Eckes. Currently 16th in points, she only has one top 10, a sixth-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway. She started out the season with two straight finishes outside the top 30 due to crashes and has only managed to finish in between 12th and 20th in every other race.
It’s turning out to be a very middle of the road season for Deegan, who just replaced a guy that finished eighth in the points last season in essentially the same truck. Perhaps the unlucky No. 13 is what’s plaguing her team right now.
Ty Majeski, meanwhile, has been carrying the banner for ThorSport, as he has swapped the points lead several times with Corey Heim and Zane Smith. Currently, Majeski rides second in points, and has twice as many top fives as all his teammates combined. He only has three finishes outside of the top 10, and in one of those finishes (Kansas Speedway), he grabbed a stage win, so he still didn’t have as terrible of a points day as he could have.
It actually comes as no surprise that Majeski is the best ThorSport truck, as he is riding the momentum from a career season in 2022. The former RFK Racing development driver was near lights out in the 2022 playoffs, notching his first career win at Bristol Motor Speedway to punch his ticket to the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway.
He followed that up with a second win two weeks later at Homestead-Miami Speedway and had a shot at the championship at Phoenix Raceway, but a spin with a handful of laps to go all but ended his chances.
This season, while he still hasn’t found victory lane yet, he has certainly maintained consistency better than most. Of his six top-five finishes, four of them came in a row. Currently, he is fresh off a runner-up finish at North Wilkesboro, which ought to feel like a win for the No. 98 team because the race winner, Kyle Larson, was in a league of his own for most of the race.
ThorSport’s fifth part-time truck, the No. 66, has arguably had the most success with just as much bad luck as the rest of the team. The ride is currently split between Conner Jones, driving nine races this season, and Joey Logano, who drove in the dirt race at Bristol Motor Speedway in a one-off appearance with a slick looking paint job thanks to sponsor Hang 10 Car Wash.
Logano won his one-off appearance and was the class of the field the whole day. This win is the only win ThorSport has this season. Jones on the other hand, has finished 18th and 29th in his first two starts, which is sort of on par for the season ThorSport is having.
However, Jones is only making his first career starts in the series this season, as he has only competed in the ARCA Menards Series to this point, so his growing pains shouldn’t be held too much against him or the team. That truck can certainly win – Logano proved that – Jones just needs to get acclimated.
As the halfway point nears for the Truck season, it seems that Majeski is ThorSport’s only realistic shot for the championship at this point. For Rhodes and Crafton, the speed is there, the consistency just needs to be picked up to become contenders. For Deegan, she and her team needs to work hard to find something if she wants any shot of making the playoffs, let alone mount a championship run.
All that to say, ThorSport should not be in panic mode. Yet.
For all intents and purposes, there’s still a lot of racing left in the season. Logano and Majeski have proved the team has race-winning speed, the full-time teams just need to get over the bump and actually win. If that can’t happen, then alarm bells should be sounding in the shop.
About the author
Anthony Damcott joined Frontstretch in March 2022. He co-authors Only Yesterday (Wednesdays) and Fire on Fridays (Fridays); he is also the site's primary Truck Series reporter and writer, and contributes to SRX coverage, too. A proud West Virginia Wesleyan College alum from Akron, Ohio, Anthony is currently pursuing his master of journalism at Temple University. He is a theatre actor and fight choreographer-in-training outside of Frontstretch. 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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