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Truckin’ Thursdays: KBM, GMS Highlight Many Series Farewells

Can you believe the end of the season is here already?

It seems like just yesterday we were taking the green flag at Daytona International Speedway in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, getting to know new names in new places, welcoming Craftsman back as a title sponsor, and understanding who comprised the newest cohort of rookies.

But here we are, 22 races later.

We’ve gotten first-time winners, surprising debutants and returnees, and unlikely playoff contenders. We’ve had fights – boy, have we had fights – and exciting racing at tracks like Kansas Speedway and The Milwaukee Mile.

But now the 2023 season is coming to a close this weekend. On Friday (Nov. 3), the Truck Series will hit the track one last time to decide a champion at Phoenix Raceway. After that, the offseason arrives.

See also
Entry List: 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Championship

And with that comes many departures for other ventures. And come 2024, the Truck Series will look a lot more different than it has in recent seasons.

Author’s Note: This is just a list of drivers and teams who will leave the Truck Series at the time of writing. This isn’t a comprehensive 2024 preview, just a farewell to those who have already been confirmed to move on from the series.

Every year, promotion is apparent for several drivers, and come 2024, several Truck Series drivers will be competing full-time in either the Xfinity Series or Cup Series after several years of development in a truck.

After a breakthrough 2023 that succeeded two full seasons of heartbreak, Carson Hocevar will skip the Xfinity Series completely and jump up to the Cup Series in 2024, driving the No. 77 for Spire Motorsports, replacing Ty Dillon. Hocevar made some Xfinity starts for the team this season, plus a one-off Xfinity start with SS-Green Light Racing at Circuit of the Americas.

He also made his Cup debut at World Wide Technology Raceway with Spire, replacing Corey LaJoie, who was replacing a suspended Chase Elliott. To many people’s surprise, Hocevar was actually outrunning LaJoie in his own car before brake failure ended Hocevar’s day early. Later, he was called upon by Legacy Motor Club to replace Noah Gragson in the No. 42 for the majority of the 2023 playoffs.

Hocevar’s four-win season in the Truck Series has resulted in a Championship 4 berth, his first. He’s spent his entire full-time Truck career (plus his part-time 2020 season) with Niece Motorsports, and will look to get his and the team’s first championship before he departs for the Cup Series. He will leave his No. 42 in the hands of Matt Mills for 2024.

But Hocevar isn’t the only one jumping up to the Cup Series with Spire.

2022 champion Zane Smith will make his final full-time Truck Series start at Phoenix, after competing full-time in the Truck Series for four seasons. Smith has never finished worse than second in the championship, but he missed the Championship 4 this year for the first time, guaranteeing him a finish no higher than fifth.

Smith will make the jump to the Cup Series with Hocevar, and the two will be teammates at Spire. Smith is actually signed with Trackhouse Racing, but will compete in a third car at Spire with Trackhouse support. Spire bought another charter from Live Fast Motorsports to make room for Smith.

Smith has competed with Front Row Motorsports the past two seasons after racing with GMS Racing in 2020 and 2021. He even made eight Cup starts with FRM and Rick Ware Racing this season to get acclimated to the Cup Series. Unfortunately for FRM and Ford, Smith was signed away to Trackhouse and back to Chevrolet, where he will compete for the foreseeable future. FRM has not named a replacement for Smith in the Truck Series.

Meanwhile, Ford is promoting one of its few development drivers it has left to the Xfinity Series. Hailie Deegan will depart ThorSport Racing to compete full-time in the Xfinity Series in 2024, driving a new second car for AM Racing, the No. 15. Deegan has spent three full-time seasons in the Truck Series and will finally make the jump to the second-tier series.

Despite her success in the K&N Pro Series West and ARCA Menards Series, Deegan has struggled more than she would have liked to in the Truck Series. Promising results in the Camping World SRX Series have helped boost her confidence and she’ll now get a chance to show her stuff in an Xfinity car. Her teammate has not been announced.

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Happy Hour: RCR Drama, Youth Movement & Denny Hamlin's Last Chance

Driver promotions are largely expected in the Truck Series; teams should typically understand that signing a young driver comes with the risk of leaving the team to further their careers in a higher series. But what’s unexpected for any series is the closure of a race team.

Unfortunately for the Truck Series, it has two longtime teams calling it quits after 2023.

GMS Racing and its fabrication shop, GMS Fabrication, will shut its doors at the end of the 2023 season. The team has been in operation in some capacity since 2011, and in 516 races that its competed in across Trucks, Xfinity, and ARCA, it has amassed 71 victories and five driver’s championships.

GMS has employed several drivers that remain in the series today, as it’s closely been associated with teams such as JR Motorsports, Hendrick Motorsports, and Richard Childress Racing. However, team owner Maury Gallagher will close his beloved Truck team to focus on his Cup team Legacy Motor Club, who is changing manufacturers from Chevy to Toyota – which could be part of the reason the team is closing.

Currently, three drivers compete for GMS – Grant Enfinger, Daniel Dye, and Rajah Caruth. While Enfinger and Caruth haven’t announced their 2024 plans, Dye is moving to McAnally-Hilgemann Racing in 2024, effectively replacing Jake Garcia.

GMS has an opportunity to go out on top, as Enfinger is in the Championship 4. He has the chance to bring the team its 72nd victory and sixth driver’s championship, with the chance to go out in a blaze of glory.

See also
Truckin' Thursdays: Setting the Stage for the Championship

Meanwhile, Dye and Caruth will run tribute schemes to the two Truck Series championships the team has amassed – Johnny Sauter‘s 2016 championship scheme adorns Caruth’s No. 24, while Dye’s No. 43 pays homage to Sheldon Creed‘s 2020 championship.

If GMS closing wasn’t enough, another longtime team in the Truck Series will be no more come 2024. This one was just as shocking as GMS’ closure.

In 2024, the Truck Series will take the green flag with no Kyle Busch Motorsports trucks on track since 2010.

KBM sold all of its assets to the ever-expanding Spire for 2024. After 13 seasons of Xfinity, Truck, and ARCA competition, producing 113 wins in 417 total starts and three driver’s championships, as well as a laundry list of drivers who still compete today, KBM will be no more.

The move was surprising because a few weeks before the news, KBM confirmed its driver lineup for 2024 and basically confirmed it would return for 2024, but apparently that didn’t come to fruition. Team owner Kyle Busch said he would still compete in his allotted five Truck races with Spire and will help the team in any way he can.

Drivers Chase Purdy and Jack Wood are also expected to return. But in what might have been the most surprising move of 2023 for the Truck Series, KBM will not take the green flag for 2024.

The 2024 landscape for the Truck Series will appear vastly different compared to previous years. Silly Season can always get crazy, especially for the Truck Series, but already, the Truck Series is in complete chaos for 2024. And there are still lots of dominoes yet to fall – Truck Series Silly Season may just be getting started.

But nevertheless, Hocevar, Smith, Deegan, GMS and KBM have left their mark on the Truck Series, and the Truck Series won’t be the same without them.

About the author

Frontstretch.com

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. 

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

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TiminPayson

Hailie left her mark alright. Tire mark that is.

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