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Truckin’ Thursdays: A Breakdown of the 2024 Rookie Class

Three races into the 2024 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season and the rookie class hasn’t seen the success that they hoped they would.

After 2023 saw a six-horse race that ended with Nick Sanchez taking home Rookie of the Year honors, this year’s ROTY battle has just three contestants, only two of which will run the entire season.

While other rookie-esque drivers will make limited starts throughout the year such as William Sawalich or Marco Andretti, let’s take a closer look at the drivers who are vying to win the top rookie honors for 2024.

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Layne Riggs

A short-track racer at heart, Layne Riggs got his first shot in the Truck Series in 2022, driving the No. 62 for Halmar Friesen Racing. In 2023, he made three starts with three different teams, with a best finish of third in his final start of the season at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park.

Over the past offseason, the son of Scott Riggs got the call to run full-time for Front Row Motorsports in the No. 38, replacing the Cup Series-bound Zane Smith. With Riggs’ talent on-track and championship-winning equipment at FRM, it’s shaping up to be a good year for the rookie.

However, the season to this point has not been kind to the 2022 NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly champion. A crash in the opening laps at Daytona International Speedway left him with a finish of 33rd to start the year.

To make matters worse, he was disqualified the following week at Atlanta Motor Speedway for unsecured windshield fasteners – a penalty that FRM was tagged for last season with Smith. He only slightly improved at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, managing a 22nd-place finish. However, after back-to-back 33rd-place finishes, a 22nd-place run isn’t anything to really smile at.

Riggs has the talent and FRM has the speed to put together a championship-level run — but it’s clear they need to work out the growing pains beforehand.

Thad Moffitt

Thad Moffitt returns behind the wheel of a truck after making four starts in 2022. Driving for a brand-new team, Faction46, Moffitt continues the legacy of the Petty family, as he is the grandson of Richard Petty.

Moffitt has made his own name behind the wheel of the No. 46, a number he’s had since his days in the ARCA Menards Series. After spending 2023 driving in the Trans Am Series, Moffitt’s return to the Truck Series has gone about as well as Riggs’ season. Moffitt was caught up in the same Big One that Riggs was at Daytona and was credited with 36th, dead last in the field.

Atlanta and Las Vegas didn’t fare too much better, with finishes of 26th and 25th, respectively. While expectations weren’t set too high for the upstart team or Moffitt in his first full-time season in one of NASCAR’s premier series, it’ll be interesting to see just how high the ceiling is for both parties as the season progresses.

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Conner Jones

After making nine starts in 2023, ThorSport Racing opted to bring back 18-year-old Conner Jones for an expanded schedule in 2024. As it stands, Jones will contest 13 of the 23 races in 2024, but will still compete for Rookie of the Year honors.

For Jones, the hope is to pull off what Corey Heim did in 2022. Heim ran 16 of 23 races and won two races en route to ROTY in a rather light rookie field. Running only 13 races is a tall order for Rookie of the Year aspirations, but Jones has experience from his 2023 starts that can help him.

Despite missing Daytona, Jones has the benefit of Moffitt and Riggs struggling to open their seasons, which has kept him in the hunt. He’ll miss nine more races on the year, but if the rookie class continues to struggle, he’ll have a legitimate shot at taking Rookie of the Year with 10 less races.

As it stands right now, Jones holds a seven-point lead over Moffitt. One more point separates Moffitt and Riggs. As the series heads to Bristol Motor Speedway on March 16, Riggs’ short-track experience could help him take the lead in the standings.

But for now, it’s shaping up to be a tight battle throughout the season between the three rookies.

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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