Categories
Trucks

DGR-Crosley, Ford Partnership A Win For All

On Wednesday, Dec. 12 it was announced that DGR-Crosley will be switching manufacturers from Toyota to Ford in 2020.

The move came after a successful 2019 season where the team recorded wins in the Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series, ARCA Menards Series East, and the ARCA Menards Series. So, after all the success, the decision may seem like a strange one; however, when you look at the situation at hand, this was probably the best time to do it for all parties involved.

For one, when it came to trucks, DGR was always going to be the number two option for Toyota’s development system behind Kyle Busch Motorsports. Not to forget the amount of Toyota teams in the various lower-tier series as well.

Now, this was not a horrible thing for the team, but this new opportunity allows them to take a bigger role as a driver development group. With that in mind, don’t be surprised if this team gets even better next season with its newfound manufacturer support.

This brings us to Ford.

A group that really didn’t have a pipeline system into the lower series like the one Chevrolet has with GMS Racing, and Toyota has with KBM. They know have that with DGR, which really cannot be understated.

While a full driver lineup as yet to be announced, there are a bunch of qualities options at the table that the team could add or resign, that would be good additions for the Ford camp also.

For one there is Todd Gilliand, who is a free agent and has that obvious connection with DGR, that could be somebody scooped up. Yes, he did not have the best of seasons with KBM in 2019, but he did show potential and did win a race with the team.

Then there is somebody like a Tanner Gray, who is young and won in his first season in the East Series last year with a history of success attached to his name.

And finally, there’s the appeal to other drivers who may be stuck in the Toyota pipeline that may not have a clear vision upwards. Someone like a Hailie Deegan, who is currently a free agent, has a history with DGR and been rumored to be joining the team.

The announcement may already be creating waves, and the manufacture sent out a media advisory that they will be announcing a new development driver to their program on Tuesday, December 17.

Not to forget that if DGR is successfully able to devise a pipeline for Ford, it may raise the likelihood of a team like Team Penske or Stewart-Haas Racing of maybe investing in DGR to invest in the future of their own race teams.

While all of this may be looking into a crystal ball one thing is for certain, this is move is a win for all parties involved.

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.

Categories
Trucks

Lupton Continues To Prove Himself

In the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, it is becoming increasingly more important that you take advantage of the opportunities you receive. Success could guarantee you more chances to prove yourself and may allow you to climb the ladder further in NASCAR. However, failure could get you knocked out the sport.

Dylan Lupton is a driver that knows this well.

The 25-year-old had been looking for any opportunity after last competing in NASCAR in June 2018. Over a year later, Lupton finally got his chance to return as DGR-Crosley Racing with a six-race schedule, with his first race coming at Chicagoland Speedway.

Now, this wasn’t a guarantee Lupton was going to end up back in the sport more consistently, as at the end of the six races, he could be exactly where was before the deal. So ultimately, it was critical for his career that he did well with DGR, which he has.

At Chicago, Lupton qualified and ran inside the top-10 before finishing tenth. A solid day for a driver who, let’s not forget, was not in NASCAR in anyway for over a year.

The California-native returned to the seat this weekend at Kentucky, where again he impressed. Lupton scored his first top-five with a fifth-place finish, which is a statement itself for part-time. However, what may have been more impressive was how he got there.

He started the night in 20th in a race that seemed chaotic, with several multi-truck accidents and fuel strategy biting a lot of the race’s top contenders as the race neared its conclusion. However, at the end of the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225, Lupton had a damage-free No. 15 and a career-best finish.

It has only been two races, but Lupton is doing everything that he needs to be doing and more. If the next four races for him go as well, and his current trend of succeeding continues, then it should open up more opportunities. Specifically, a full-time ride.

Let’s face it, Lupton is doing all of this without a lot of time to prepare, that it makes it interesting to wonder what he would be doing if he were given a more consistent, guaranteed, that allowed him to grow with a team for more than just six races.

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.

Categories
Trucks

Ankrum’s Perfection at Kentucky Leads Him to Victory

Tyler Ankrum made his eighth start with DGR-Crosley Racing in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series at Kentucky Speedway capturing his first career win.

The 18-year-old became a first-time winner, now hopeful to take the next step towards making a name for himself in NASCAR.  

The victory comes after missing the first three races of the season and the Buckle Up Your Truck 225 being only his twelfth start in the Truck Series. 

The California native began his early career running quarter midgets where he eventually moved up to late models. Ankrum had a breakout year last season in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, capturing four victories, the Sunoco Rookie of the year and most importantly, the championship.

After winning at popular tracks like South Boston Speedway and Iowa Speedway, now Ankrum can add Kentucky to his list. It also adds to his season totals as he entered this weekend with a top-five and three top-10 finishes. His best result prior to visiting victory lane was third and came at Texas Motor Speedway which is a 1.5-mile track like Kentucky Speedway.

Prior to the weekend, Ankrum and the DGR-Crosley team were hopeful that a clean weekend may ultimately lead them to a victory.

“I’m excited about Kentucky,” Ankrum said. “I think we’ve been getting more competitive every week and I believe what we have been working on with our Tundra’s will catalyze this weekend. I have high hopes and I think we can win.”

The 18-year-old led a career high of 40 laps and took the lead with less than five laps to go as Brett Moffitt ran out of fuel. Now Ankrum is locked into the post-season.

“Hopefully it means a sponsor – holy cow!” Ankrum said in victory lane. “I cannot believe I just did this.Man, it’s going to take a lot of work. Honestly, one of my biggest faults is I’ve always doubted myself. I kind of feel like all that has washed away. I can’t thank David Gilliland and DGR-Crosley enough.”

He has experience also in crew chief Kevin Manion, who was on top of the pit box for Ankrum; the veteran captured his first win in the Truck Series since 2017.

Momentum coming into the weekend paid off for the young driver. As good as Ankrum has been in the 1.5 mile tracks this season, it was not a surprise that he performed so well in Thursday night’s Buckle Up 225.

With the playoffs inching closer, it’s going to be interesting to see if Ankrum can find funding to allow him to compete for a championship.

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.

Categories
Trucks

Natalie Decker Learning, Gaining Experience in Trucks

JOLIET, Ill. – A lot of eyes are on the career of Natalie Decker, who is running her first part-time schedule in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2019.

Through 10 races, she has four finishes inside the top-20, with a best of 13th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. When asked her thoughts about the season, Decker says she’s “learned a lot”, and gave a lot of praise to her team, DGR-Crosley Racing.

“I love the team that I’m with. I couldn’t have picked a better team,” Decker told POPULAR SPEED. “DGR-Crosley, they’re so amazing, and having David Gilliland as the owner and just being able to lean on him and ask him a lot of questions whenever you want, that’s just a wonderful tool to have.”

While it is her first year running multiple truck races, Decker is not inexperienced though, having competed in multiple racing series. Her 2019 schedule has included races in the ARCA Menards Series and NASCAR K&N Pro East Series, in addition to making a start in the Trans-Am Series.

While knowing what to expect with ARCA being that she ran the full schedule in 2018, it made the transition to K&N easy due to being very similar. However, Trans-Am has been a different experience for her.

“That’s really fun because it’s road racing and it’s really new to me,” Decker said. “Then it’s also going to help if we ever go road racing in the truck or whatever. It’s a good experience just to always be in a race car every weekend.”

With that experience, she has developed skills, including the ability to manage a vehicle throughout lengthy portions of a race, something she believes she’s been able to carry into the truck series.

“We’re better on the long run in a race and, I feel like that’s a big strength to have no matter what you’re racing. That’s something that I’ve always really been good at so it’s good to bring it back over into the trucks. And we have every series that I’ve been in, that’s just probably one of my best strengths.”

Decker did admit though that there are areas that need to be worked on, which includes being better at the beginning of the race weekends.

“What we really need to improve on this season is when we unload for practice, especially all these new tracks we go to, is just learning faster and getting up to speed faster,” Decker said. “That will just help in the long run and that will help instead of learning it all and getting up to speed in the race, just doing it right away in practice.”

As she looks towards the rest of the season, Decker is keeping her goals within reach.

“My goal is definitely getting top-15’s,” Decker said. “That’s a big goal of mine. And then just carrying that through the rest of the season.”

Decker managed to accomplish that goal at Chicagoland Speedway on Friday night after she finished the Camping World 200 in 14th. With nine races left on her schedule, she will compete again in the No. 54 Toyota on July 11th at Kentucky Speedway.

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.