Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: New Season, New Beginnings

It’s about that time to go Truckin’ again.

2024 will see the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series take the green flag on its 30th season of competition, following a less than ideal – some would say, disastrous – end to its 2023 season.

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While only three drivers were promoted out of the Truck Series for 2024 – those drivers being NASCAR Xfinity Series driver Hailie Deegan and NASCAR Cup Series drivers (teammates!) Carson Hocevar and Zane Smith – there was still plenty of shuffling throughout the offseason that left some drivers hanging without full-time rides and new faces in new places.

Ben Rhodes is the defending champion, surviving the chaos of the 2023 finale at Phoenix Raceway to take home his second title in three seasons. He returns to ThorSport Racing along with Matt Crafton and Ty Majeski, both of whom made the playoffs in 2023. Conner Jones also returns in his part-time slate with the No. 66 team. Jake Garcia is the newest addition to the team, replacing Deegan in the No. 13. He departed his full-time ride at McAnally-Hilgemann Racing after 2023.

MHR expanded drastically in the offseason following its great season with flagship driver Christian Eckes. Eckes returns to the No. 19, while Tyler Ankrum effectively replaces Garcia in the No. 35, driving the re-numbered No. 18. The team also added Daniel Dye, who joins from the now-defunct GMS Racing. The No. 43 is an expansion team for MHR, who hasn’t run more than two full-time trucks in its history.

Dye’s teammate at GMS, Grant Enfinger, rejoins CR7 Motorsports for 2024, replacing Colby Howard. MHR and CR7 will have an alliance for the season, which makes sense as the teams shared the same shop as recently as 2023. MHR will also have a fourth truck that will be split between Jack Wood and Smith. The No. 91 is currently a part-time truck, but it is running 18 of the 23 races on the schedule, so it could easily become a full-time truck if funding is found.

Wood joins MHR from Kyle Busch Motorsports, which sold its assets to Spire Motorsports following 2023. Spire will have three full-time trucks in 2024. The first truck, the No. 7, will be an all-star truck featuring Kyle Busch and Corey LaJoie in a combined six races, while the other 17 are to be announced. The second truck, the No. 71, will be run by Rajah Caruth, the final GMS driver to find a full-time home for 2024. Chase Purdy, Wood’s KBM teammate, stays in-house and will drive the No. 77 for Spire full-time. Nick Sanchez returns to Rev Racing’s No. 2, which will keep its technical alliance in-house at Spire.

Meanwhile Ankrum joins MHR from Hattori Racing Enterprises, for whom Ankrum had competed for two seasons, winning an ARCA Menards Series race with HRE at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Hattori does not have a full-time driver, and despite reports that the team may have shut down, it announced that it was hiring for several positions, indicating there will be some sort of appearance from the team.

Replacing Hocevar at Niece Motorsports will be Matt Mills, who joins Bayley Currey as the two full-time drivers for Niece this season. A third truck, the No. 45, will be split between a rotation of drivers including Johnny Sauter, Ross Chastain, Connor Mosack and Kaden Honeycutt. Lawless Alan will not return to the team, instead joining Reaume Brothers Racing full-time in the No. 33.

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Niece Reveals No. 45 Lineup

With KBM and GMS both gone, 2024 will feature two new full-time teams. The first, Faction46, will feature Thad Moffitt as its full-time driver. Spencer Boyd also formed his own team, Freedom Racing Enterprises, for which he will drive full-time after driving for Young’s Motorsports for five seasons where he earned his only career win, an upset at Talladega Superspeedway. Mason Massey will join Young’s as its full-time driver for 2024.

Another new team for 2024 is Floridian Motorsports, a late entry for the season. The team will field the No. 21 for Mason Maggio at Daytona International Speedway. While Daytona is the team’s only scheduled start, the team could be seen more depending on if the truck stays in one piece by the checkered flag.

Meanwhile, Howard’s departure from CR7 left him without a ride for 2024; however, he will join TRICON Garage in its all-star No. 1 truck at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Toni Breidinger will pilot the truck at Daytona, while William Sawalich returns for a nine-race slate. All four of TRICON’s full-time entries – Dean Thompson, Corey Heim, and the Brothers Gray, Taylor and Tanner, remain intact for 2024.

Ty Dillon will return to the Truck Series grid full time for the first time in over a decade, driving the Rackley-WAR No. 25. Dillon replaces Matt DiBenedetto and jumps all the way down from the Cup Series, from which he was replaced by Hocevar. Timmy Hill will also run full-time for his family-owned team; he previously split the ride with his brother Tyler.

Layne Riggs also gets a full-time shot in the Truck Series, driving the No. 38 in place of Smith. The son of Scott Riggs has impressed in most of his starts thus far and will have the opportunity to compete for a championship in the same truck that won a title in 2022.

Other notable entries for the season include Stefan Parsons, who will replace Parker Kligerman as Henderson Motorsports’ part-time driver starting at Daytona. Keith McGee will contest a six-race schedule with RBR while Stewart Friesen and Bret Holmes return full-time for 2024. Marco Andretti will run a part-time schedule with Roper Racing in 2024 as well, as will team owner Cory Roper.

Respect will be a major topic of conversation this season for the series. Overaggression dominated the series last year and the Phoenix finale really left a bad taste in fans’ mouths going into the offseason. That race featured 29 laps of overtime and all four championship contenders running into an issue at some point in the race as the race devolved into pure chaos.

See also
Only Yesterday: What Racing Is

With a new crop of faces (full-time faces, at that) the series will have a lot of questions to answer about respect, and the only way it can answer them will be on the racetrack. While NASCAR takes pride in being a contact sport, simply playing bumper cars is sure to turn some heads in the wrong direction.

However, it’s a new season. New faces with new beginnings. What’s done is done. Now just try to improve in the season ahead.

The slate is clean. Let’s just hope the drivers can keep it that way.

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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Bill Kobobo

Perhaps this Damcott fella should study up on his subject matter prior to writing about it. Clueless…..

Shayne

The trucks were 9 mph faster during their practice vs. Cup car qualifying. Is the difference in speed because of the draft?

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