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OBSERVATIONS: Strat 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Although the racing was a little more spread out than you’d expect for the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series, the same result was seen when the checkered flag was flown in the Strat 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Everybody knows the joy that Kyle Busch gets from winning, and the disappointment he feels with defeat – just look at the frustration in several interviews over the years. So it’s no surprise to see him with a big smile in his face as he celebrated with his own team.

While it’s fun to pad his record book with a career 53rd career victory, there’s actually a method to the madness.

Rudy Fugle told Fox Sports 1 that putting Busch behind the wheel of his own trucks is all about improving them to the program stronger so their young drivers can contend for victories and the championship, making reference to Christian Eckes jumping behind the wheel later this year. While many believe they are where they should be, Fugle reference more work needing to be done to get there. The victory was nice, but Busch fought a tight truck through the night and the team was unable to win the title last year with Noah Gragson.

It goes back to last week, and the expectations that Busch has for the program. When he places a driver in the truck, he expects them to perform. Otherwise, there’s a good chance you may be replaced by the next person in line for the job. Just look at what he said in reference to Todd Gilliland last week.

“Todd (Gilliland) we certainly have to work with him and continue to bring him up and get him filled in on what it takes to be fast at these places,” Busch said. “We’ll hopefully be able to get him places because you know his career is on the line. You don’t get very many chances at this and I’m sure that we’ll hopefully be able to get him going better. He should have run two races last year, no question about it, but obviously it just didn’t happen. He’s got to show up this year and make it happen.

“There were times last year where Todd wrecked every week and we were like dude you got to just slow down, you’ve got to figure out how to finish. To finish first, first you must finish, right?”

Some people may say it is cruel and certainly Busch was criticized for his comments, but it is the nature of business. Sponsors are only going to pay for those who succeed and money is necessary to pay the bills and perform. 

Thus far, both Harrison Burton and Gilliland have scored top-10’s in the last two races, with Burton running as high as second in the late stages last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Though when the action picks back up for the series at Martinsville Speedway, those aren’t the results that KBM is looking for, but rather checkered flags.

Late race heartbreak could be used to describe the nights for small fries Ross Chastain and Jordan Anderson. Both of them were set for respectable finishes given the equipment they were running until running into mechanical issues late. As a result, Chastain failed to finish in the top-10 for the first time this year, while Anderson placed 21st.

Anderson spoke highly of his program entering the year, banking on experience and the alliance with GMS Racing to bring him further up the grid to a solid top-20, possible top-10 performer. He was able to finish 19th at Atlanta last weekend after getting crashed out at Daytona. 

If you’re looking for an underdog to follow this year, the No. 3 Chevrolet Silverado is exactly that as Anderson is impressing as he enters his second season of doing things on his own, and slowly building his team. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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ASHLEY ASKS…… Timothy Peters

The NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series is only two races into the season, but so far, Timothy Peters is off to a solid start with a pair of top-10 finishes. The veteran recently shared his thoughts with POPULAR SPEED entering this weekend’s Stratosphere 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts going into Las Vegas Motor Speedway?

TIMOTHY PETERS: I really like racing at Las Vegas. So you know, six years ago we were able to win that race. It always gives you confidence to go to a place that you’ve had success at in the past, and with how our season has started off with finishing seventh and 10th with a new team, a lot of momentum all around. So we just got to keep pushing and continuing and hopefully this momentum will follow and we can improve our spot within the top-10 this weekend.

PS: What is the biggest challenge of Las Vegas Motor Speedway?

TIMOTHY: It’s not really a challenge; it’s just unique. Because it’s in the desert, it’s sandy when we get there and we’re the first ones to get on the race track. So it’s not as clean, but by the time we get to qualify, it’s really clean. So it’s a high groove race track, a lot of different parts of the track are fast, and a little fast. It’s just the characteristics of the track and knowing as a driver how to come in and accept the challenge the track gives you and work on the balance of the truck.

PS: What are your thoughts on the first two races of the season to date?

TIMOTHY: It’s exciting. Everybody is working hard – the guys, Chevrolet; the alliance with GMS fabrication is really cool. As a racer, you want to improve on those starts, and you have to hand it to those guys for taking a chance in owning a team. It’s showing now what it’s capable of with Ross running well, us running well. We’re just needing to capitalize a little more and we’ll get better. We’re collecting a lot of data and when you’re doing that, that’s good as it makes you faster.

PS: Looking ahead, what are your goals and expectations for the rest of the year?

John Harrelson | NKP

TIMOTHY: Right now, I’m hoping for more races for myself as we’re coming up on the last race that we agreed upon to do. The key is to finish these races, but you want to have a respectable finish. We’ve done that, we’ve executed. We’ve collected a lot of data out of the races.

We stayed out of trouble at Daytona – even then we still got collected in a crash, but came back for a top-10 finish. Obviously luck had a lot to do with that, but it’s still a top-10. At Atlanta, we ran around the 10th position all race long and then at the end, we found ourselves in 14th. Then we had a restart and were able to gain four spots with six laps to go.

When you show up and do well at places you can control your own destiny, like Atlanta and Las Vegas, you can get the results that you know you can get.

PS: What track on your schedule for 2019 are you most looking forward to?

TIMOTHY: All of them. As a racer, that’s what you want to do. To be honest with you, you always want to win at your home track and my track is Martinsville. That’s where we hope that we get to go, but we’re thankful for the races that we have.

PS: What track do you wish was on the NASCAR schedule that currently isn’t?

TIMOTHY: I’m a short track guy so I’d like to see some more short tracks put on. So if you could somehow work on that…. It just isn’t one in particular; I like them all.

PS: What is one change that you would make to improve the sport of NASCAR?

TIMOTHY: It’s a loaded question. I’m just going to say that we’re good with what we’ve got. I’m not sure if much of my input would help. I’m just thankful to participate in it.

PS: We’ve seen drivers explore running different series and cars. Is there anything on your bucket list to do?

TIMOTHY: No, not really. For me, the racing doesn’t get much better than what we do. We get to drive race trucks. That’s a dream of mine to always compete in the top level of NASCAR.  I have a beautiful family and it doesn’t get much better than that – spending time with family and getting to race fast trucks.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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ASHLEY ASKS…… Spencer Boyd

Moving over to Young’s Motorsports during the off-season, Spencer Boyd was able to kick-off the year with his new team with a fourth-place finish in the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

As the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series get set to tackle Atlanta Motor Speedway, Boyd shared his thoughts with POPULAR SPEED.

PS: What are your thoughts as you look back at Daytona?

SPENCER BOYD: For us, it was a great weekend. All of the guys worked hard putting that truck together, and we showed a lot of speed in qualifying and in the race, my spotter did a great job. We were up front most of the race, stayed out of trouble, and got a solid finish. So we’re excited for a good start to the year, and a good start with Young’s Motorsports.

PS: How much did it mean for you and the team to get off on a good note together?

SPENCER: It’s really important to get a good finish with the first race with Young’s Motorsports and the guys worked really hard. Just getting started, getting good points – things like that. So I was really excited – got some stage points, so that was a big deal as the stage points are something you need to be thinking about at all times. So to collect those on a speedway, we were definitely happy about it.

Rusty Jarrett | NKP

PS: Now as we head to Atlanta, what are your thoughts going into the weekend?

SPENCER: For me, going to Atlanta, I feel like we have a good truck and a good chance. I really just want to go out there and get a good finish in the top-10, and work on our mile-and-a-half program. I think Young’s Motorsports did really well last year with a couple top-fives in the mile-and-a-halves, so if we could go out there and pick up where they left off, that’d be really good, and then just build from there through the rest of the season.

PS: What’s the biggest challenge of Atlanta?

SPENCER: Tire management is everything at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The surface is just a cheese grater. So you want to get out there and get as much out of the truck you can the first few laps to separate yourself from the other guys, and then just manage your tires, hold off your tires. Realize that maybe you can get them go for a couple laps if they’re going to just run off their tires real quick. So just recognizing the race pace, and not steering from that plan.

PS: Looking ahead on the season as a whole, what are your goals and expectations for this year?

SPENCER: For me, my goal is to go out there and run all of the laps and be in the top-10 on a regular basis and make the Chase. Through that, just strategically get more and more aggressive and get up front to battle it out with those guys.

PS: What track are you most looking forward to beyond Atlanta?

SPENCER: I love short track racing. So I’m looking forward to Martinsville. Gateway and Iowa are definitely circled, but Martinsville is definitely a special place. I made my debut there and ran in the top-five that day, so really looking forward to going back.

PS: Now, what track do you wish was on the schedule that currently isn’t?

SPENCER: Well, for me, my favorite track in Xfinity last year was Richmond, so I’d love for Richmond to be on the truck schedule. But not sure if we’ll see that anytime soon.

NKP

PS: If you were in charge of NASCAR for one day, what is one change that you would make to improve the sport?

SPENCER: That’s tricky. There’s so many moving parts. For me, I feel like NASCAR made the right decision to go to the Ilmor (Engine) in trucks, and I feel like doing the body change that they did in Xfinity would be good in trucks. Just all those cost management things help the smaller teams, and the bridge the gap from the middle to the front of the pack.

PS: Now, we’ve seen a lot of drivers try a bunch of different series and cars. So what’s out there on the bucket list for you?

SPENCER: I would love to run a Global Rallycross Race. That looks like a lot of fun. You see a lot of drivers from different motorsports do that, so that looks fun. They have a really cool young fan base and I think that’d be cool to tap into.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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OBSERVATIONS: NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway

A brand new era began in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series as it marked the first race with the new brand, hence the hashtag #ReadySetGo that has been trending across social media leading up to the event. While you always want things to start off well, you could say it was a “bang-up” opening event.

The trucks always put on some of the craziest restrictor plate racing, and the NextEra Energy Resources 250 was no exception. Throughout the event, from the drop of the initial green flag to the end, there was side-by-side racing as drivers jockeyed for positions, sometimes even three-wide.

Over the course of Daytona Speedweeks, fans have practically begged for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers to stop running single file up against the wall as we saw in both the Advance Auto Parts Clash and the Gander RV Duels.

However, patience was the name of the game as drivers solely wanted to go to the event of the with a car, and  on the case Thursday, save their equipment for Sunday’s DAYTONA 500. There’s no time for that in the trucks as stage points are given out on two different occasions, and the race is only 100 laps total in length. Combined with a lot of youthful drivers eager to prove themselves, riding along doesn’t happen. 

There is a price to pay with what we saw happen on Friday, though, as the truck series only had nine drivers complete the race out of the 32 who took the green flag. The constant battling for position resulted in several wrecks, with 11 cautions taking happening. Oddly enough, more than half of the event was run under the yellow flag (55 laps).

Between the Clash, the ARCA race and now the trucks, there have been 55 cars wrecked. Now do you understand why the Cup Series drivers have been riding along?

The Daytona 500 will probably feature more of the riding that we’ve seen in the past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events, just like we saw at Talladega Superspeedway last fall. However, as we close in on the end of stage and the race as a whole, expect the pressure to rise with battles for position happening. When that occurs, though, don’t say we didn’t warn you of what could happen.

While the truck series event was mired with wrecks, you can’t deny being happy for the winner as Austin Hill scored his first career series victory. After working hard to prove himself in lesser equipment the past couple of years, he made the jump to Hattori Racing Enterprises for 2019; this is the team that won the championship in 2018 with Brett Moffitt.

After being excited and welcoming to the opportunity, he’s already proved that he was worthy of the chance with a championship-worthy team. Now locked into the playoffs virtue of the victory, he and Scott Zippidelli can focus on improving their chemistry and keeping the level of performance the same as what Moffitt did last year, hopefully increasing their chances at a run for the title.

There were also other drivers who will leave Daytona with smiles on their faces, like Josh Reaume who scored his first career top-five, and Angela Ruch as she proved that she’s not just another pretty face. Daytona offers a chance for the small fries to shine in a special way. So hopefully the happiness that those two drivers have to offer makes seeing the disappointment on others easier to handle.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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New Season, New Expectations for Jordan Anderson Racing

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – With Speedweeks at Daytona International Speedway already taking place, most drivers fly in and out of town. Alternatively,  Jordan Anderson drove down to Daytona Beach. The South Carolina native is no stranger to driving his race trucks to tracks but his race team is in a better scenario this season than they were last year.

This time a year ago, Anderson only had two race trucks and were hauling their trucks from a pick-up truck pulling a small trailer, focused on finishing races and taking care of their budget. That has not changed much, but Anderson is excited about his team’s new alliance with GMS Racing.

“We have definitely stepped up.” Anderson told POPULAR SPEED. “We bought two older trucks from GMS to try and help our program step up so we’re now up to seven trucks. This time last year we only had two trucks, a superspeedway and intermediate truck. We are slowly but surely building the program up. We also have a new hauler, and everyone is working super hard to get everything built up.”

Anderson’s race team is looking to build off the new alliance. The partnership has helped scientifically, and one example is that this season Anderson is running strictly the new 2019 Chevrolet Silverado.

Last season, the team ran a mixture of both Silverado’s and Toyota Tundra’s but during the winter, GMS helped them convert their Daytona truck from a Tundra to Silverado.

“They are helping us out with our pull down.” Anderson said. “They have been helping us out with our set up builds so I think in the long run it is going to be a big asset for us. All our trucks are still really different than what their trucks are, so we are trying to streamline that process, change our lowers and move to what kind of spindles they have, and it just takes time and money to get it all switched over.”

As bigger teams worry about stage points throughout the race, Anderson is solely focused on finishing strong. For a small team like his, strong results bring in more purse money and that is how they will be able to fully transition with the GMS alliance.

“I’m excited about our chances this year to step our program up in the field.” Anderson said. “We were always a 20-25 place truck last year now were going to hopefully bump it up to a 10-15 place truck. It’s a process, to really go up against the top guys our budget is not anywhere near those guys, but we are trying to step it up.”

Last season, he scored two top-10 finishes and they were both on superspeedway tracks.

“We were the only truck here to finish in the top-10 in both superspeedway races so if we can keep that stat going and go for a third one here I’ll be super happy.” Anderson said. “A lot of guys out there are racing for stage points but for us small teams stage points don’t pay purse money. We have to really be there at the end to get that purse money so that is big for our team to survive and keep growing.”

Anderson aims to grab more top-10 to top-15 finishes in other sized tracks other than superspeedways. A strong finish in an intermediate or short track will add more confidence to building his team.

“You don’t want to set such high expectations that you put yourself in a bad spot but were at the point now that yes, we have eight trucks, but we have four trucks that are complete and the other four are just the chassis and the body.” Anderson said. “The goal for us the first five to six races is to finish every race and try to compete against those guys but not put ourselves in a spot where we tear trucks up. I think if we look at our goals from last season we can say that we just want to improve on that.”

Anderson sets his eyes on improvements this season. He is stoked about the 2019 season and is looking to learn and build off it. His never give up attitude has led his team to growth and become more prosperous in the future.

EMAIL BRANDON AT: brandon.rivero@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @MrBrandonRivero

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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TRACKING THE CHANGES: Gander Outdoor Truck Series Silly Season Part 2

From one season to the next, NASCAR is never short of changes as there are always drivers in new rides entering another year of NASCAR competition. The Truck Series is also seeing a change of their own, with the new identity as it will be known as the Gander Outdoor Truck Series, rather than the Camping World Truck Series. 

Earlier this month, POPULAR SPEED released the first edition of Tracking the Changes for the Truck Series Silly Season, detailing the moves for several different drivers across the grid. Since then, there’s been more announcements made. So let’s review where things stand as of January 28, 2019.

NKP

Although Ross Chastain lost his opportunity in the NASCAR XFINITY Series with Chip Ganassi Racing, he will be behind the wheel in 2019. He will be sharing the Niece Motorsports entry with Reid Wilson, with Phil Gould calling the shots on the pit box.

Chastain became a hot topic for Silly Season after visiting victory lane in NASCAR’s second-tier division for Chip Ganassi Racing, and was initially announced to drive the team’s entry full-time in 2019. However, it was announced  that CGR will be shutting down their team due to a lack of funding. The news came following sponsor DC Solar’s offices were raided by the FBI. 

SEE ALSO: Tracking the Changes – XFINITY Series Edition

Meanwhile, Wilson made three starts in the truck series last season, scoring a best finish of 16th at Martinsville Speedway.

Russel LaBounty | NKP

Young’s Motorsports continues expanding their program, announcing that Tyler Dippel will be driving for them full-time in 2019. He placed second in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings last year, on top of making five truck series starts with a season-best 13th at Eldora Speedway.

Recall, that will give Young’s Motorsports three trucks full-time in 2019 as they already announced Spencer Boyd and Gus Dean as part of their team.

NIGEL KINRADE NKP

To nobody’s surprise, Todd Gilliland will return to Kyle Busch Motorsports to chase after the championship. Gilliland had a successful rookie campaign in 2018, scoring four top-five’s and 19 top-10’s. 

Gillliland will have a strong teammate in Harrison Burton, who takes over the No. 18 ride full-time that was driven by Noah Gragson, as Gragson moves up to the XFINITY Series with JR Motorsports. 

Barry Cantrell NKP

JJL Motorsports will continue their venture in the truck series, with Jesse Little set to run up to 15 races depending on sponsorship. The team will have a slightly new look, though, in the form of a new crew chief and new personnel. JR Norris has joined the team as crew chief of the team’s No. 97 Ford F150’s this year. Jamie Smith and Josh Frankos also join the team in a truck chief and Lead Mechanic role and will work side-by-side with Norris.

Little was known as the man with the small team that could after scoring six top-10’s in nine races last year. 

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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Rookie Outlook: Gander Outdoors Truck Series

Since 2010, five of the nine drivers that have won the Gander Outdoors Truck Series Rookie of the Year have gone on to secure full-time rides in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.

The most recent of which being William Byron, who now drives the famed No. 24 for Hendrick Motorsports.

With that being said, the award clearly introduces fans to drivers that will likely be on the rise in the next couple of years. In 2019, the series will once again have quite the class.

Harrison Burton

The most recognizable name on the list, and arguably the favorite for not only the Rookie of the Years honors, but the championship as well.

The son of Jeff Burton will be making his first full-time effort with Kyle Busch Motorsports after making 15 starts with the team over the last three years. He will be competing in the No. 18, replacing 2018 series runner-up, Noah Gragson.

The expectations will be high for the 18-year-old and, it will be interesting to see if he can carry his previous success in the ARCA Racing Series and NASCAR K&N East Series into a series where he does have experience.

In 15 starts (all coming with KBM), Burton has posted four top-five’s and seven top-10’s, with his best finish of third coming at Iowa and Phoenix last year.

Sheldon Creed

Someone who may be overlooked heading into Daytona, but it may not stay that way for long.

Creed has proven himself a capable competitor in the past, winning four races in the ARCA Series a year ago in route to a championship. The 21-year-old will align himself with GMS Racing and will drive the No. 2 Chevrolet.

Like Burton, he has had opportunities in the series before, making seven starts with a top-five and two top-10’s to show for it.

Gus Dean

Another ARCA winner makes the move up, as Dean joins Young’s Motorsports to drive the No. 12 Chevrolet.

Unlike Burton and Creed though, he has zero starts in a truck; so this year may serve as a learning curve for the 24-year-old.

Tyler Ankrum

After winning four races and a championship in the K&N East Series, Ankrum looks to continue his winning ways as he continues to climb the NASCAR ladder driving the No. 17 Toyota for DGR-Crosley.

The 17-year-old will have his work cut for him early though, as his season will not start until March 23rd at Martinsville Speedway, after which he will be 18 and face no age restrictions. In the process, Ankrum will miss three races, which was enough to keep Todd Gilliland from winning the Rookie of the Year last year.

Part-Timers

Ankrum won’t be the only rookie getting a ride from DGR this season as both Natalie Decker and Anthony Alfredo will share the No. 54 Toyota.

Decker made headlines last year in ARCA, where she was able to win the pole at Daytona International Speedway and score nine top-10’s throughout the season.

Alfredo comes from a season in the K&N East Series where he won one race and finished fifth in the points standings.

EMAIL MITCHELL AT mitchell.breuer@popularspeed.com

TWITTER: @MitchellB66

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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TRACKING THE CHANGES: Gander Outdoor Truck Series Silly Season

From one season to the next, NASCAR is never short of changes as there are always drivers in new rides entering another year of NASCAR competition. The Truck Series is also seeing a change of their own, with the new identity as it will be known as the Gander Outdoor Truck Series, rather than the Camping World Truck Series. 

As we look into the next chapter for the series, let’s review where things stand as of January 16, 2019.

RUSSELL LABOUNTY | NKP

After winning the ARCA Racing Series Championship, Sheldon Creed turned that into a five-race opportunity with GMS Racing last year. He made the most of that, scoring a pair of top-10 finishes including a fifth at Homestead-Miami Speedway. As a result, he will be behind the wheel full-time for 2019.

LOGAN WHITTON | NKP

Creed won’t be the only new face at GMS Racing, as he will be joined by Brett Moffitt. Moffitt takes the control of the second entry for the Chevrolet team after winning the series title last season for Hattori Racing, but was left to search for a new ride due to lack of funding.

Justin Haley and Johnny Sauter who drove for GMS Racing last year are at two different ends of the spectrum. Haley will move up to the XFINITY Series, while Sauter has yet to announce any plans for 2019.

RELATED: See the changes in the XFINITY Series

Nigel Kinrade | NKP

Hattori Racing will be back full-time, as they have signed Austin Hill to drive their truck for 2019. When speaking with POPULAR SPEED prior to the announcement, he expressed his excitement about the opportunity.

Barry Cantrell NKP

The move for Hill will see Young’s Motorsports have a new driver behind the wheel of the No. 02 truck, with Spencer Boyd taking the reigns. Boyd ran the full XFINITY Series schedule last year, scoring a season-best 17th at Daytona International Speedway in July.

Young’s Motorsports followed that up by announcing they will enter two trucks full-time, with Gus Dean behind the wheel of their second entry. Dean makes the move up to the truck series after spending the last two seasons in the ARCA Racing Series, scoring two wins and 24 top-10 finishes in 40 races. 

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

After running a partial schedule throughout the 2018 campaign, Harrison Burton will chase after the Gander Outdoor Truck Series Championship with Kyle Busch Motorsports.

“It’s gone pretty well, as far as the truck season goes,” Burton told POPULAR SPEED about 2018. “I’m fairly happy with it. I’m happy with my team’s progression and growth together. I feel almost more comfortable in the trucks than I do in the some of the lower series that I run. I’m really happy with where we are, and hopefully we can keep that group together going into next year if everything works out like I want it too. But you never know so you have to put in a last good job application and see what we got.”

ARCA RACING

DGR-Crosley Racing is looking to have their hands full for 2019, as they have so far released three different driver announcements over the winter. Natalie Decker and Anthony Alfrado will each run a partial schedule, while Tyler Ankrum is set to chase Rookie of the Year, as well as the series title for the organization. 

“I’m super excited to be doing the truck series, and then a little bit of ARCA and K&N,” Decker told POPULAR SPEED. “I think it’s just a great opportunity, and I’m so thankful for my sponsor N29 for bringing me into this next step of my career. I’m really thankful for the team that I’m going to be on – DGR Crosley. I think it’s going to be a really good fit, and I can’t wait to see how Daytona goes.”

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

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ASHLEY ASKS……. Natalie Decker

After scoring nine top-10’s in ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards competition, Natalie Decker is set to run a limited schedule in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series for DGR-Crosley Racing.

The 21-year-old recently shared her thoughts with POPULAR SPEED on the opportunity and her career thus far.

POPULAR SPEED: What are your thoughts entering the upcoming season?

NATALIE DECKER: I’m super excited to be doing the truck series, and then a little bit of ARCA and K&N. I think it’s just a great opportunity, and I’m so thankful for my sponsor N29 for bringing me into this next step of my career. I’m really thankful for the team that I’m going to be on – DGR Crosley. I think it’s going to be a really good fit, and I can’t wait to see how Daytona goes.

PS: Looking at your limited truck schedule, what are your goals and expectations?

NATALIE: I feel like my goals would be to finish all the races, and learn as much as I can, and my expectation is it’s going to be really hard. It’s definitely a big step, but I’m really ready to take it. I believe that I have a great team behind me that’ll help me along the way.

PS: What track are you most looking forward to?

NATALIE: That’s a good question. I’m really excited for Daytona; we ran really well there last year with the team (Venturini Motorsports) that I raced with last year in the ARCA Series. That was really fun; it was my first time on a superspeedway. So I’m definitely looking forward to Daytona, but a dream of mine since I was really little was to always race at Bristol. The more I learn more about racing and the older that I got, I realized that is a really tough track but I’m so excited it’s on my schedule.

PS: You were selected as a possible candidate for the W Series. What has that been like for you?

DGR-Crosley Racing

NATALIE: Well, I haven’t gotten to do much with the W Series, but right after the ARCA test in Daytona, I’ll be flying out to Austria to do the final selection and I’m really excited. My brother is going to come with me, and I think it will be a great experience. I’m focusing on NASCAR, but this is such a great opportunity for me to meet other drivers and other people in the motorsports industry, and I think it’s a great opportunity for me to go to a different track all the way across the world and drive definitely a different kind of racecar that I’m used to.

PS: You’ve gotten to do a lot at a young age already, whether road racing or oval – a variety of series. What’s that experience been like for you?

NATALIE: I think it’s super helpful. My dad was telling me that anytime you have a chance to drive any kind of car, whether four-cylinder at your home track on a short track, or a trans-am at Daytona, you need to do it. No matter what it is, it is seat time and it well help you and you will always learn something. The more I’ve done that throughout my career, it’s been fun to drive all these different types of cars and all different types of racing, and I really think it helps in making you a better driver.

PS: What is something that you haven’t gotten a chance to race yet that you’d like to, though?

NATALIE: Oh man, that’s a good question. I tested an LMP3 car, which is a prototype, kind of what they do at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona; I tested one at Sebring, but I haven’t raced one yet and that’s a goal of mine. So I hope I can make that happen one day.

ARCA

PS: Admittedly, you’ve had a lot of people critical of you thus far in your career, too. What is one thing that you want to say for the critics?

NATALIE: They don’t know the whole story, that’s for sure, just like any other person; I’m just a normal person in the public eye. But I would like to tell them they don’t know the whole story, but thank you to all of them because it definitely pushes me harder, it makes me want to work harder for myself and prove to myself and them and the fans that support me that anything is possible and you can make your dreams come true.

PS: Being one of the upcoming female drivers, what would your advice be for other females?

NATALIE: I would tell other females, especially the young girls in go-karts and super late models and stuff, that there’s going to be a lot of ups-and-downs, but that one goal that you have in mind, you have to keep that in mind and don’t forget what you’re doing it for. Always go out and race for yourself, and prove to yourself how good you are, and don’t worry about what other people think.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Categories
Trucks

“They Said What?” NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Edition

Sometimes when you stick a microphone in front of a driver’s face, you have no clue what they may say and a couple of times you’ll hear something that surprises you or gives you a bit of a perspective.

Throughout the 2018 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, I had the opportunity to speak to a bunch of different competitors. During those interviews, there were some quotes that stood out. So it seems only fitting we take a glance back through the year at what was said.

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

I guess everybody has their opinions, but I would take away a lot of the downforce we have and give us more horsepower. In the Truck Series especially, we’re running wide open at all these mile-and-a-halves that we got to. I feel like it provides for better racing and it’s not about drafting and momentum, but rather mechanical and set-up. That’s one of the big changes that we’d make is maybe take the splitter off, cut the spoiler in half, and give us 150 to 200 more horsepower. – Grant Enfinger

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

I am actually going to be running the full season next year, but unfortunately will not be without Young’s Motorsports as we’re going a slightly different route in 2019. As far as details go, I am not supposed to be saying it for at least another week or so. But once the team I’m committed with and signed with comes out with their press release and talks about it and makes it public, then I’ll be able to talk about it. But as far as right now, they want me to keep it hush-hush. It’s definitely looking really good going full season in the truck season and I’m very excited about it. – Austin Hill

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

It’s definitely a challenge but I think it makes me a better racecar driver because of it. I know that it’s hard to get into a rhythm from trucks to K&N to ARCA and super late models, and hop into each car or truck and be fast right off the truck; it’s a challenge. But I think having to do that, it helps me for situations where I may go to a new race track and pick it up real quick. So I think it definitely helps me, but it’s a challenge for sure. – Harrison Burton

ARCA

I feel like the hardest thing is having the funding to do it. Anybody can go race, but having sponsors and funding is the hard part. So you need to find that, and have a never give up attitude. – Sheldon Creed

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

Canada was obviously really cool for us, and not a lot of people know, but I have a road course background. It’s kind of one of the races that I had circled for a long time and wanted to run well there. We ran well there last year as I qualified second and finished fourth after a bad pit stop. I’ve always just had this monkey on my back at these road courses races that I couldn’t win. I’d go run TransAm, K&N cars, ARCA cars – always finish second, track record, pole, but never win a race. Finally I got the win in Canada on a road course and that meant a lot to my family in putting in a lot and coming from a road course background.

But the last few laps, obviously they were very intense. We were very under-motored all day. The Toyotas had brought their manufacture motors and KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) had actually gone up and tested both motors to see which was better, because we all had a suspicion. They were just almost a second and a half faster than us a lap, and we were kind of the underdogs all day; me and John Hunter (Nemechek)were the only ones that could keep up with them all day.

The last few laps, we had that restart where I restarted third and I knew I couldn’t run down Todd (Gilliland), or Noah (Gragson), or keep up with them for that matter. So I let Noah go on that restart for the green-white-checkered. I knew my best chance I had was to have Noah go up there and get into Todd, and that happened. I had that in the back of my mind. It was one of those things like you have a lot of faith in something, and there was something in the back of my head saying it would be okay, to let Noah go and it would come to you. It was pretty intense and obviously they got together, and the seas parted for us and it was a cool experience. – Justin Haley

RUSSELL LABOUNTY | NKP

“I think we can go to the final four for sure. Some people doubt us, and that’s fine. That’s more motivation for me. That makes me hungrier as a driver when I see stuff like that. I know I have a good team that can compete on a weekly basis. Now it’s just going out there to prove everyone wrong.” – Noah Gragson

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

I look back on my career, and I think so much of it is keeping your faith, and knowing that God has a plan for us, whether the plan you want or he wants. I always share this with my guys but whatever is going to happen, is going to happen whether you want it to or not. All you can do is keep showing up every day and doing the best job that you can, and I think that’s the biggest thing.

That’s how we run this race team – we do the best that we can with what we have, and we enjoy the ups and downs. It’s kind of like that t-shirt saying that we had with the saying ‘never give up’ and the picture of the mountain top. If you start at the top and stay there, you don’t appreciate the journey as much as when you start at the bottom and have to start and claw from the bottom.

Every day, you have to keep yourself in check. I used to keep journals back when I was racing Late Models and I look back at the goals and things I wanted to accomplish and to see where we are now, it’s definitely been a blessing.

The biggest thing I would say to drivers is don’t let anybody discourage you from your dreams, what makes you stay up at night, and the things you want to accomplish because with a little bit of time, a lot of faith, persistence, and keep showing up striving after the goal, it’s amazing what you can accomplish. – Jordan Anderson

Logan Whitton | NKP

It means a lot. They know what makes me happy and they know I can be successful at it, so they stand behind me, which makes me very thankful for everything they’ve done for me and believe in me. – Korbin Forrister on his parents’ ownership of his team

NIGEL KINRADE | NKP

It makes things a little difficult with our set-up stuff as we don’t get the long runs in practice to know what the truck will do after 25, 30 laps. That’s the only thing. Those guys can afford to go out and wreck a truck in practice, pushing it to the max for everything that it’s got. We can’t do that because it’ll put us behind for the next weekend that we’re going to race. It’s a lot of work for our guys. – Wendell Chavous on what it’s like with a smaller budget

Barry Cantrell | NKP

It’s definitely really helpful. I’d say Johnny Sauter is probably been the biggest help, but he is one of the main veterans in the series. He has so much knowledge and experience. It’s something special to be able to work with him. At the same time, I feel he’s very open and willing to help younger guys like myself run well in the Truck Series. – Dalton Sargeant

ROBBY LYONS RACING

It’s absolutely huge. The last time I ran a full season in 2014 when we were competing for the Legend Car National Championship. The end of that season, we think we ended up going through two motors in three days, and ended up finishing fourth in National points. One of the things that I strive on is consistency, which has been one of the tougher things in the last bit in not knowing when my next race would be, and then when I did get that chance, just having the pressure to make the most of it to get to another race. I always like having dates on the calendar to look forward to, and there’ll be a lot of that this year.

Jay Robinson – I can’t say enough about him. He’s one of the most stand-up guys that I’ve ever met in racing – not just in racing, but life in general. He’s given me a lot of good advice, and I thank him for giving me a great opportunity this year. – Robby Lyons

John K Harrelson NKP

I think we’re a bit of ways from that right now.  It would take partners, the age old requirement of money. But I think if we keep doing what we’re doing, I don’t see a reason that we can’t eventually build to that level. You can never say never, and it would take more green to do that, but right now we’re just focused as we’ve been on just doing quality races over quantity. If ever that opportunity comes along, we’ll be completely prepared to make it happen.

But I think there’s an element of fun in what we’re doing, and that’s just showing up and trying to win races and get to victory lane. As I said before, it’s very unique. So unless we’re fully prepared and in a top level situation to run for a championship, I don’t think we’re going to sacrifice a chance to win races just to be able to run all the races. – Parker Kligerman

ASHLEY MCCUBBIN PS

Definitely the weight of them, the amount that they roll over compared to the Pinty’s cars that I’ve run and am used to, and horsepower, a little bit; you kind of get where you’re going a lot quicker. But definitely the weight; the weight transfer is a lot different. They don’t slide; like the Pinty’s NASCAR car you slide – almost like a winter day on ice. But in the truck, you can’t do that. Once you slide the tires in the truck, you’ve lost all momentum and it’s hard to drive. That was the big thing for me.

Phoenix, it took me awhile to get used to the truck. I would say probably say after practice before qualifying, I was pretty comfortable. But we were respectable in the race and at the end, we ended up P11. 

Kubota (Tractors) jumped on board and helped us out. That’s really what inspired our team to get more involved. We probably weren’t going to run as many races if Kubota didn’t get involved, but their involvement inspired us. They’d say let’s go do that and have some fun. Our schedule was kind of based off having fun, and picking races we wanted to race, and trying to get the best results at the end of the day. I’m a fortunate racecar driver. – Jason Hathaway

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

FOLLOW ON TWITTER: @ladybug388

The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.