It’s hard to imagine that we just left Homestead and crowned the 2019 Truck Series champion, Matt Crafton, and now we are less than a month away from the season opener at Daytona for the 2020 NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series season. Since the season finale at Homestead, there have been many announcements including driver, teams and/or crew chiefs changes. With the new season quickly approaching, let’s take a look at some of the changes the Truck Series experienced during the “off-season.”
Kyle Busch Motorsports kicked off the series announcements with the driver changes. Raphael Lessard and 2018 ARCA Menards Series Champion Christian Eckes will take over the No. 4 and No. 18 rides, respectively. Lessard replaces Todd Gilliland in the No. 4, while Harrison Burton makes the leap to the NASCAR Xfinity Series and Eckes takes over the famed 18 full-time after doing multiple part-time attempts. It is expected that team owner Kyle Busch will drive part-time in the No. 51 and Chandler Smith in the No. 46 as well. Busch has yet to announce what his races will be. Also, Mike Hillman, Jr. is to serve as crew chief for Lessard as Rudy Fugle pairs up with Eckes. Danny Stockman will serve as crew chief for the No. 51.
Following in KBM’s announcements in the terms of drivers is GMS Racing. GMS will have four full-time drivers with Sheldon Creed in the No. 2, Zane Smith in the No. 21, Brett Moffitt piloting the No. 23, and Tyler Ankrum moving over from DGR-Crosley to drive the No. 26. Sam Mayer and David Gravel will split share the No. 24 Chevy. Gravel is expected to make six starts with the team.
With the driver announcements for GMS also comes some crew chief announcements. Kevin Manion will serve as crew chief for Smith, Chad Norris serving for Moffitt, and Chad Walter for Ankrum.
As for ThorSport Racing, it is expected for all drivers to return to the team. Defending series champion Matt Crafton in the No. 88, Johnny Sauter in the No. 13, Grant Enfinger in the No. 98 and Ben Rhodes in the No. 99. The crew chiefs remain the same for each driver.
Also during the off-season came some manufacturer news. DGR-Crosley switches over from running a Chevy to Ford for both teams. But the team has yet to make any driver announcements for the No. 17 and No. 54. Ankrum piloted the No. 17, while Natalie Decker drove the No. 54 in 2019. Halmar Racing made manufacturer news as well. After competing in a Chevy last year, the team moves to Toyota as they will get trucks prepared by Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Some other small news to report is that Jordan Anderson, who owns Jordan Anderson Racing, will return as driver and owner this season along with crew chief Wally Rogers. Austin Hill returns to the No. 16 Hattori Motorsports Toyota after having a breakout season in 2019. For Niece Motorsports, Ty Majeski takes over the Ross Chastain No. 45 Chevy full-time with Chastain moving to the Xfinity Series with Kaulig Racing. The No. 44 team details are yet to be announced. Multiple drivers competed in the entry last season.
A couple of new teams will race in the Truck Series this year. Bill McAnally formed a team with Hattori Racing to field the No. 19 Toyota full-time in 2020. Derek Kraus and ENEOS/NAPA Filters will be the sponsor with Kevin Bellicourt as crew chief. The team competed part-time running select races in 2019.
Speaking of new teams, the Cup Series team of Front Row Motorsports is expanding its program for the Truck Series. Former KBM driver Todd Gilliland will compete in the No. 38 Ford full-time with crew chief Jon Leonard. Front Row Motorsports will have support from DGR-Crosley.
As far as full-time efforts that’s all there is to report right now. Several teams including Young’s Motorsports, NEMCO Motorsports, Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing, Reaume Brothers Racing, DGR-Crosley, Roper Racing, Norm Benning Racing, CR7 Motorsports, Clay Greenfield Racing, Mike Harmon Racing, Henderson Motorsports, Jacob Wallace Racing, Rette Jones Racing and RBR Enterprises have yet to make announcements. Though it is expected that these teams will return with either full-time or part-time schedules.
Also of note, Roper Racing, Norm Benning, CR7, Clay Greenfield, Mike Harmon, Henderson, Jacob Wallace, Rette Jones and RBR all competed part-time last season while Young’s, NEMCO, Jennifer Jo Cobb in the No. 10, Reaume Brothers and DGR-Crosley were full-time.
Henderson Motorsports, who competes in the No. 75, is looking for a full-time venture and is trying to become a development program. Parker Kligerman has normally competed in this ride. Jason Little Motorsports who fielded the No. 97 JJL Ford sold its team to Diversified Motorsports Enterprises at the end of 2019. With Jason Little not owning the team anymore, new owner Logan Puckett, the president of Diversified Utility Group LLC, took over the team as owner. Jesse Little is expected to run Xfinity Series races this year but is also listed to return part-time to the team in 2020.
As always there will be more announcements to come for the Truck Series in the coming weeks leading up to the season opener at Daytona, so stay tuned.
*Disclaimer- Some teams have yet to announce their 2020 plans, so this is an unofficial team preview.*