Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: 3 Drivers Who Deserve a Better Look in 2024

Throughout NASCAR’s history, drivers who have shown pure talent have fizzled out of the NASCAR pipeline for one reason or another, whether it was sponsorship or just general lack of opportunities.

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is no different. Sometimes drivers can’t advance to the NASCAR Xfinity or Cup series due to financial difficulties, and other times, manufacturer loyalties mean the pipeline is too clogged for any advancement.

In 2023, several part-time drivers have proven their worth in limited Truck Series starts, but since the full-time rides have long been filled, these drivers take advantage of any ride they can get in hopes to put the series on notice.

Entering 2024, it’s worth looking at three specific drivers who have made a splash in their limited starts this season. Any full-time truck team without a driver in 2024 should look at these drivers and see what they’re made of.

No. 1 – Kaden Honeycutt

Honeycutt entered the Truck Series in 2022, driving two races for G2G Racing before joining On Point Motorsports as a driver-employee for the rest of 2022 starting at Pocono Raceway, becoming the full-time replacement for Tate Fogleman.

While his stats in seven races were nothing to brag about, he did manage a top 10 in the final race at Phoenix Raceway, finishing ninth. Honeycutt was expected to stay with On Point entering 2023, but signed a six-race deal with Roper Racing to begin the season.

After failing to qualify at Daytona International Speedway and a less-than-stellar race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Honeycutt put the series on notice at Atlanta Motor Speedway. He found himself in contention to win, and muscled his No. 04 truck to the lead. But just as the upset story began, it quickly ended. After leading just one lap, Honeycutt had a mechanical issue that forced him to retire from the race.

The next race at Circuit of the Americas saw Honeycutt competing for stage points throughout the day, even overcoming contact with Hailie Deegan for some points. Though he didn’t finish top 10, he brought his severely underfunded truck home in 15th.

See also
Dropping the Hammer: Despite Limited Resources, Indy Win Not 'Cinderella' Moment for Michael McDowell

The team withdrew from Texas Motor Speedway before Honeycutt took home an impressive ninth-place finish on the dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway, his second career top 10. After a 28th-place finish at Martinsville Speedway, some fans expected Roper Racing to keep Honeycutt for longer than the six-race deal, but the team strictly maintained its end of the deal and dumped Honeycutt in favor of Johnny Sauter.

After missing Kansas Speedway, Honeycutt was picked up by Young’s Motorsports and drove the next two races in the team’s No. 20. He finished top 20 both times, with a 10th at Darlington Raceway and a 17th at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

Honeycutt was then signed by Niece Motorsports, who opened a part-time fifth truck for him at Pocono Raceway, where Honeycutt finished 20th. Honeycutt told Frontstretch he plans to enter a few more races with Niece this season.

With Carson Hocevar widely expected to move up the NASCAR ladder, that leaves a full-time seat at Niece wide-open. While Bayley Currey might be the guy to fill that seat, if Niece continues to run its all-star truck that Currey drove this season, perhaps Honeycutt could be the one to replace Currey in that part-time role.

But if he impresses enough in his remaining races with Niece, he should be more than worthy of a full-time opportunity in 2024.

No. 2 – Layne Riggs

It seems like every race the Truck Series travels to with Riggs’ participation, his name seems to come up at some point.

Debuting in 2022 at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park in a second Halmar Friesen Racing entry, Riggs finished an impressive seventh. He backed that up with a 19th-place finish the next race at Richmond Raceway. He drove one more race for HFR at Phoenix, finishing 13th after qualifying second.

HFR co-owner and driver Stewart Friesen told SiriusXM before the season that Riggs would return with HFR on a part-time basis but was preparing to make the second truck full-time if Riggs could find sponsorship. Unfortunately, it seems that deal fell through, as Riggs not only could not find enough sponsorship for a full-time run, but hasn’t even attempted a race with HFR this season.

That hasn’t stopped Riggs from getting seat time. He started his 2023 season at Atlanta in TRICON Garage’s all-star truck, driving the No. 1 to a 28th-place finish after a crash during the race. He then drove the No. 02 for Young’s at Nashville Superspeedway, finishing 27th after another crash.

Riggs returned to IRP with Spire Motorsports’ part-time No. 7 truck, and Riggs proved his result at IRP last year was not a fluke, and even bettered his result, finishing third.

Riggs believes he has the talent to go full-time, and based on his short-track prowess, it’s wild that teams haven’t considered him for at least a part-time schedule. Perhaps HFR takes him back in 2024 with more sponsorship, or maybe Spire signs him part-time.

But other teams such as Niece or even Front Row Motorsports should take a look at Riggs, as the 2022 Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series champion could produce impressive results with his limited experience.

No. 3 – Matt Mills

Mills got the opportunity of a lifetime this season, signing on to drive Kyle Busch Motorsports’ all-star No. 51 truck for two races at Richmond and the Milwaukee Mile.

Mills has spent most of his career driving for backmarker teams across the Xfinity and Truck Series. Even in the 2023 Truck Series season, Mills is driving a part-time schedule for Young’s. Prior to his first race with KBM, he had just one career top-10 in all of NASCAR, a 10th-place finish in the Xfinity July Daytona race in 2019.

Mills’ performance at Richmond proved that sometimes it’s the equipment, not the driver. Mills qualified and finished fifth, a career best in both for the 26-year-old. He had to battle through some radio troubles throughout the night to do so.

Mills has another opportunity to prove himself at Milwaukee on Sunday, Aug. 27. And with Cup drivers unable to compete in the playoffs, Mills could potentially find himself in more races for KBM, as the No. 51’s schedule hasn’t been fully filled yet.

When KBM switched to Chevrolet, it downsized to one full-time truck and one all-star truck after running as many as four full-time trucks in its career. Mills brings sponsorship in JF Electric, so it would be worth KBM to at least consider the option of returning to two full-time drivers if Mills is capable of putting up high quality results.

Or at the very least, KBM should give Mills more races in the all-star truck in 2024.

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.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

1 Comment
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ron

To those of us that have watched Kaden Honeycutt’s career, a good team will get a very good driver. He doesn’t come from money, so getting the rides is hard for him. In good equipment he’s always fast, doesn’t wreck others, and he doesn’t tear up his equipment. Watch his CARS Tour races. Always at or near the front, in qualifying & the races.
Layne Riggs is another good young driver. He won the national championship in his family owned team. They hadn’t even planned on running for it. But he won so many races early in the season, they thought it was worth going for it. He’s running Kevin Harvick’s late model again this weekend in the CARS Tour race at Tri-County Speedway in NC.
Unfortunately I haven’t seen Matt Mills run that often, but he’s done well in the ones that I have seen.
There are some really good young drivers coming up through the late models, and super late models. I expect to hear the name of Evan Shotko being talked about real soon too. He’s a 20 year old super late model driver at Berlin in MI. He’s not just a great driver, he builds and sets up his and a lot of drivers’ cars in the Midwest. He won the Battle of Berlin last year, and finished third in that race last week. First was Bubba Pollard, and second was Chase Elliott. He’s won the last 2 Jennerstown Mountain Motor Masters races.
I am so high on some of the young drivers coming up. With the CARS Tour being bought by Harvick, Burton, Earnhardt, & Justin Marks, that will give these drivers a place to showcase their talents on the east coast for these top 3 tier teams. The SRL is doing the same thing on the west coast. Those 2 series are going to save short track asphalt racing in the US.

Share via