Race Weekend Central

2023 Top NASCAR Storylines: The Biggest Stories of the Craftsman Truck Series Season

Flying fists, intentional incidents and ending empires made up just a few of the many storylines in the 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season.

Questions abounded ahead of the season opener at Daytona in February. Would Kyle Busch Motorsports find success in its switch to Chevrolet? How would TRICON Garage fare as the top Toyota team?

Could funny hat guy Carson Hocevar clean up his act and earn his first win? Would Hailie Deegan find success with her new ThorSport Racing team?

All that and more was answered throughout the 2023 season, culminating with Ben Rhodes winning his second series title.

As a whole, the 2023 season featured abundant storylines and moments, some of which caught national attention. Here are the top five storylines of the 2023 Truck season.

Read all of Frontstretch‘s content looking back on 2023 here

5. Kyle Busch Motorsports Earns 100th Win

In 2023, Kyle Busch Motorsports made the switch from Toyota to Chevrolet. The team didn’t miss a beat to start the season, as owner Kyle Busch won the second race of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. 

See also
What's Left of the 2024 NASCAR Silly Season?

As the season continued, however, the KBM trucks and drivers did not show their typical race-contending speed. Entering the event at Pocono Raceway in late July, KBM still needed one more victory to earn their 100thwin.

TRICON’s Corey Heim led a race-high 27 laps, but a restart with five laps remaining left Busch drew a bead on the lead.

On the final lap, Busch brazenly drove deep into the tunnel turn, making his way past Heim and into the lead. 

As fate would have it, the last-lap heroics helped KBM earn its last major milestone of its championship-winning history.

4. GMS Racing Ceases Operations

In a surprising announcement at the end of August, GMS Racing announced its intent to close its doors at the end of the 2023 season.

Just four days later, GMS driver Grant Enfinger earned his third win of the season at The Milwaukee Mile.

The championship-winning team started as an ARCA Menards Series organization in 2012, making its first Truck starts in 2013 and running full time in 2014. 

Over the past nine seasons, GMS became a dominant force in Truck and ARCA competition, fielding entries for stars like Kyle Larson, Justin Haley, Chase Elliott, Sam Mayer and Zane Smith

The organization won two championships in its nine full-time Truck seasons. The first came in 2016 with Johnny Sauter taking the first championship for GMS in the first year of the Truck playoffs. In 2020, the team won 10 Truck Series events as a whole, with Sheldon Creed taking the series championship at season’s end.

In its final season, Enfinger made it to the Championship 4 and had a shot to beat Rhodes, but the storybook ending for GMS did not come to fruition.

3. Matt Crafton, Nick Sanchez Fight

The Truck event at Talladega Superspeedway followed a typical, run-of-the-mill format with slightly less carnage as Brett Moffitt took the victory for Front Row Motorsports.

In the garage after the race, Frontstretch’s Wyatt Watson caught footage of what became a bloody altercation between Matt Crafton and Nick Sanchez

After contact on the track that ended Crafton’s race, the ThorSport driver stewed in the garage until after the race. The details on how the fight started will vary based on which side tells the story, but the end result left Sanchez with blood trickling down his face as he yelled expletives in Crafton’s direction.

NASCAR fined Sanchez $5,000 while Crafton earned a $25,000 penalty, and both drivers did not have any other run-ins to finish the season.

2. Carson Hocevar’s Jekyll-and-Hyde Season

When the 2023 Truck season began, Hocevar seemed strictly business. The 20-year-old from Portage, Mich., decided to ditch the silly hats, and fans hoped his destructive habits would remain in the rearview as well. 

See also
2023 Rookie Roundup: Here's How NASCAR's Young Guns Performed This Year

The season showed promise early on, as Hocevar earned his first career win at Texas Motor Speedway.

Just two weeks later, however, Hocevar landed back in hot water after attempting to wreck Taylor Gray down the backstretch at Martinsville. One step forward, two steps back. 

After difficult words from Dale Earnhardt Jr., Hocevar showed promise in the NASCAR Xfinity Series and began a journey back into favor with the public. 

In June, Spire Motorsports tabbed Hocevar to substitute for Corey LaJoie at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway in the NASCAR Cup Series. Hocevar showed impressive speed before a crash ended his race. The next time out, he won the Truck event at Nashville Superspeedway.

Good runs in the Cup Series (also subbing at Legacy Motor Club) and two more Truck wins placed Hocevar back in good graces, as the young driver showed increased poise and maturity.

All of this hard work came undone in the finale at Phoenix. Driving too hard, Hocevar dumped Heim, who seemingly had the championship on lock. While Heim retaliated – and received a penalty the following week – Hocevar shouldered responsibility for the controversy. 

Moving up to the Cup Series in 2024, Hocevar’s victories and antics in the 2023 Truck season leaves many questions and concerns for Spire Motorsports’ future star.

1. Spire Motorsports Buys Kyle Busch Motorsports

When Busch signed with Richard Childress Racing in the Cup Series, the veteran had a plan in place to race with his son Brexton in his own KBM trucks at the end of his career.

Just a year later, Spire had purchased KBM.

In the span of a month, the Truck Series and Chevrolet had lost two of its best teams.

On the flip side, another Chevy team may rise in 2024.

From its lucky first Cup win at Daytona International Speedway in 2019 to the start of the 2023 season, Spire has shown an increase in speed and commitment to building something special. In 2022, Spire launched a Truck team and got its inaugural win with William Byron at Martinsville. 

In 2024, Spire moves to a full-time Truck operation for the first time, with Chase Purdy announced as its only full-timer so far, coming over from KBM. A second truck will feature Busch in his usual five starts.

Perhaps his hope to race against son Brexton will come to fruition after all — just for a different team than expected.

About the author

calebbarnes924

I began sports writing in 2023 with The Liberty Champion, where I officially covered my first NASCAR race at Richmond in the spring. While there, I met some of the guys from Frontstretch, and I joined the video editing team after I graduated from Liberty University with degrees in Strategic Communications and Sports Journalism. I currently work full-time as a Multi-Media Journalist with LEX 18 News in Lexington, Kentucky and contribute to Frontstretch with writing and video editing. I'm also behind-the-scenes or on camera for the Happy Hour Podcast, live every Tuesday night at 7:30!

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.

Share via