2023 looks to be an exciting season in the Craftsman Truck Series, here are five reasons to watch the series this year.
North Wilkesboro, Milwaukee Mile, old teams with new manufacturers, and rookies looking to make big splashes this season, 2023 is panning out to be an exciting season in the Craftsman Truck Series, here are just a few of the reasons to follow the series.
1 – North Wilkesboro Speedway
The biggest announcement of 2022 was NASCAR’s return to North Wilkesboro Speedway. The hottest ticket for 2023, will see the Cup Series racing the All-Star Race, with the Truck Series and Late Model stock cars racing the Saturday before. The CARS Tour raced at the speedway in August and sold out the stands, so tickets for the All-Star weekend will go quickly. The Truck Series last raced at Wilkesboro in 1996. Hall of Famer Mark Martin won that race. Other famous names who raced there for the series include Kenny Wallace, Mike Skinner, Darrell Waltrip, and Robby Gordon.
TRUCK RACING RETURNS TO NWS! 🙌
The @NASCAR_Trucks have been added to the 2023 All-Star weekend lineup.
— North Wilkesboro Speedway (@NWBSpeedway) September 14, 2022
With the excitement of the weekend, I believe we will see a record number of trucks attempt to qualify for this race. A mix of veterans, Cup Series drivers looking to gain practice for Sunday’s big show, and Late Model racers looking for to make a debut in the series. Many of the current regulars have never raced on this track, so qualifying itself should be a show. Green flag is at 8:00pm on May 20th.
2 – Return to the Milwaukee Mile
Located in the Wisconsin State Fair Grounds, the Milwaukee Mile is a 1-mile track with 9.25 degrees of banking. First opened as a dirt track, the Mile was paved in 1954. Hosting NASCAR and IndyCar, names such as Mario Andretti, Nigel Mansell, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Jeff Gordon have raced at this historic speedway. The track hosted Trucks and Xfinity races until 2009 when NASCAR announced it would not be returning.
New tracks always promote exciting racing. Only one driver, Matt Crafton, has raced a truck at Milwaukee, with him driving in the last race in 2007. With a new track, combined with a limited practice schedule, an exciting race is guaranteed.
3 – Will Kyle Busch and KBM still win with Chevrolet?
With Kyle Busch’s departure from Toyota and a new home in Chevrolet, one of the biggest questions is will Kyle Busch Motorsport still be a dominant force in the Truck Series? Home to seven Truck Series championships, the move to Chevrolet has restructured the organization. New crew chiefs for both trucks, Brian Pattie for the #51 and Jimmy Villeneuve for the #4. New faces in both trucks in Chase Purdy and Jack Wood. This shake-up may hamper KBM’s winning ways. But lest we forget where Kyle Busch is driving in 2023.
New Year, new opportunities. Let’s do this. 👊 pic.twitter.com/F1tU61XTvl
— Kyle Busch Motorsports (@KBMteam) January 1, 2023
Richard Childress knows how to run a winning truck team. RCR and Mike Skinner won the first truck race ever, Phoenix 1995, and won the title that year. Grandson of Childress, Austin Dillon scored the organization’s second truck title in 2011. RCR has won a total of 31 races with its truck teams, while nowhere close to KBM’s total, they have a pedigree. With RCR’s resources and Kyle Busch’s talent, I can say with confidence that he has an excellent shot at winning in his new Chevy Silverado.
4 – Will Rajah Caruth win his first race?
Rajah Caruth will be moving up from ARCA to the Truck Series with GMS Racing in 2023. Caruth finished a season-best eleventh in his first start at Gateway in Spire Motorsport’s #7 Truck. Tapped to drive the #24 Silverado, the same team that Zane Smith finished runner-up in the championship, two years in a row.
Caruth finished third in the ARCA Championship, and in his first trip to Martinsville in an Xfinity car, finished twelfth. Rajah and the #24 Team at GMS can be a contender in 2023. A win and playoff run should be expected, and I look forward to watching him in 2023.
5 – Hailie Deegan moves to Thorsport as Thorsport moves back to Ford
Hailie Deegan was out of a ride when David Gilliland Racing announced a rebrand to TRICON Garage. Contracted with Ford, and her team moving to Toyota in 2023, many suggested she would be in an Xfinity ride in 2023. In a move announced on her YouTube channel, she confirmed her 2023 plans. Thorsport would move back to racing F150s and she would pilot the #13 Truck for the team.
Deegan has secured her most competitive ride in her Truck career. Thorsport scored three wins in 2022 and had two drivers in the championship race. With the experience of 2021 champion, Ben Rhodes, veteran champion Matt Crafton, and blooming talent in Ty Majeski, she will have excellent teammates. Thorsport, while swapping back to Ford, never seems to skip a beat. This is her best opportunity and we need to see a playoff run and maybe a win or two. I believe everything is in place for her to make 2023 her best season yet.
The Craftsman Truck Series returns to racing on February 17th with the NextEra Energy 200. Tune into FS1 at 7:30 pm.