Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: The Triple Truck Challenge – What Is It & Is It Worth It?

When the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series takes to the track on Friday (May 24) at Charlotte Motor Speedway, there will be more than just a trophy and a spot in the 2024 playoffs on the line.

This year marks the sixth iteration of a bonus cash incentive introduced in 2019 called the Triple Truck Challenge. Similarly to the Dash 4 Cash incentive in the Xfinity Series, the Triple Truck Challenge takes place over three consecutive races on the Truck Series schedule.

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However, unlike the Dash 4 Cash, every driver in the field is eligible every week. The best part is that the more you win, the more cash you get. One win nets you $50,000. A second win will get you $150,000. If you can sweep all three races, you get a whopping $500,000 bonus – a massive payday for the Truck Series.

So far, no one has ever been able to earn the half-million dollars, and only one driver has been able to capture $150,000. In his championship-winning season in 2020, Sheldon Creed was able to capture two checks from The Trip while Zane Smith won the other. Creed is also the only driver with multiple Triple Truck Challenge wins, adding a third bonus prize in 2021 at Darlington Raceway.

The Triple Truck Challenge was founded, in part, by Marcus Lemonis, who owned the series’ title sponsor Camping World. When Camping World ended its sponsorship of the Truck Series in 2022, Craftsman decided to keep the Triple Truck Challenge when it took over beginning in 2023.

Some fun pieces of trivia can be found within the Triple Truck Challenge. For example, the very first winner of The Trip was Greg Biffle, back when he drove for Kyle Busch Motorsports in a one-off at Texas Motor Speedway. Another former winner who earned an additional $50,000 was Parker Kligerman, driving for the underfunded Henderson Motorsports, earning only his third career win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2022.

Ross Chastain was nearly the first driver to win more than one race in 2019. He won at Iowa Speedway but was later disqualified after post-race inspection. He then won at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, taking home $50,000. Had he passed inspection at Iowa, he too would’ve won $150,000.

The races that make up The Trip change every year, but they generally take place somewhere between May and July. This year, Charlotte, Gateway, and Nashville Superspeedway make up the Challenge.

The Triple Truck Challenge is a nice incentive for sure, especially since purse money is generally low in the Truck Series.

But is it really worth it?

The reason I pose that question is because with the exception of Kligerman’s win in 2022, every driver who has taken home a check from The Trip drives for a team that is generally thought of as a top dog in the Truck Series.

Niece Motorsports has two wins (Chastain in 2019, Carson Hocevar in 2023). ThorSport Racing (Ben Rhodes in 2023), Front Row Motorsports (Todd Gilliland in 2021), and TRICON Garage (Ryan Preece in 2021, back when the team was still known as DGR-Crosley) all have one win apiece along with Kligerman and Henderson.

The two teams that share the most wins are two teams that closed their doors at the end of last season. GMS Racing grabbed seven wins (Moffitt in 2019, Creed twice in 2020 and once in 2021, Smith in 2020, and Grant Enfinger in 2023), while Kyle Busch Motorsports nabbed three checks (Biffle in 2019, John Hunter Nemechek in 2021, and Corey Heim in 2022).

All of the teams I mentioned above, with the exception of Henderson, are all teams who we would considered the big dogs of the series. Those teams already have plenty of money. They win all the races and make the most money of all the teams in the series.

The idea of the Triple Truck Challenge would make sense if it was feasible that other underfunded teams such as Young’s Motorsports, CR7 Motorsports, or even Rackley WAR were able to mix it up for the cash, but that’s just not the case. $50,000 or $150,000 to those teams would mean a ton more than ThorSport or Niece earning another $50,000.

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That’s not to say the Truck Series should get rid of it. The Triple Truck Challenge gives the series some form of identity in the monetary bonus background to match the Xfinity Series’ Dash 4 Cash or the Cup Series All-Star Race or in-season tournament coming in 2025.

It definitely serves the purpose of giving drivers something to race for other than just a trophy. Let me be clear: Do not get rid of the Triple Truck Challenge. But the question of “Is it worth it?” is one worth asking, especially if you’re a smaller team who could desperately use that money, especially when the purse payouts are pennies compared to other series.

Maybe it calls into question whether or not the purses should be raised, and then the Triple Truck Challenge bonuses become just that – bonuses. Not a make-or-break amount of money for some teams.

In a heavily-money-driven sport, any chance to earn more money is great, and The Trip is a perfect way to do that. But maybe big money payouts like the Triple Truck Challenge should open up the debate and push for bigger purses for the Truckers on a regular basis.

The first race of the Triple Truck Challenge at Charlotte will take place this Friday (May 24) at 8:30 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1, or Motor Racing Network for those who prefer radio coverage. Rhodes is the defending winner of the race and the $50,000 at stake.

Truckin’ Tidbits

  • ARCA Menards Series driver Andres Perez de Lara will make his Truck Series debut at Gateway, driving Spire Motorsports’ No. 7. Perez drives for Rev Racing in ARCA, and Rev is a Spire-affiliated truck team.
  • Moffitt will make his second start of the season in TRICON Garage’s rotational No. 1 truck. Brenden Queen made his debut last week at North Wilkesboro Speedway, finishing a solid fourth after starting 26th.
  • Speaking of Queen, my colleague Nick Tylwalk made a great point about why NASCAR should have let Queen’s nickname “Butterbean” remain on the back windshield of his truck at North Wilkesboro.
  • Justin Carroll returns to the track this week after skipping his planned race at North Wilkesboro due to illness.

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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