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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.

Categories
Trucks

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.

Categories
Trucks

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.