NASCAR DFS: 2019 Truck Series Rankings

NASCAR DFS: 2019 Truck Series Rankings

This article is part of our NASCAR DFS series.

1. Brett Moffitt - No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet – Moffitt shocked the NASCAR world when he marched to six victories and ran away with the truck series championship crown at Homestead last November. He did it with the relatively new Hattori Racing, who was competing in just their second full-time season in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. The even more shocking development was the team had to let Moffitt go at the end of the season due to sponsorship issues. However, the young driver landed solidly on his feet at GMS Racing. He will take over the reins of the strong No. 24 Chevy Silverado and look to defend his title in 2019. Moffitt will be teamed with crew chief Jerry Baxter and they will be the outfit to beat right out of the gates this season.

2. Johnny Sauter - Free Agent Driver – In a stunning turn of events, GMS Racing parted ways with Sauter at the conclusion of the 2018 season. The veteran driver came up short in the championship race, but still had an incredible campaign. Sauter grabbed a career-best six victories and 14 Top-5 finishes, but finished fourth in the driver standings as a result of a bad outing at Homestead. The 2016 champion is still looking for a ride as of January 2019, which is almost unthinkable. He's been the most dominant driver in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series for the last three seasons, and has posted win and Top-10 totals that rival

1. Brett Moffitt - No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet – Moffitt shocked the NASCAR world when he marched to six victories and ran away with the truck series championship crown at Homestead last November. He did it with the relatively new Hattori Racing, who was competing in just their second full-time season in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. The even more shocking development was the team had to let Moffitt go at the end of the season due to sponsorship issues. However, the young driver landed solidly on his feet at GMS Racing. He will take over the reins of the strong No. 24 Chevy Silverado and look to defend his title in 2019. Moffitt will be teamed with crew chief Jerry Baxter and they will be the outfit to beat right out of the gates this season.

2. Johnny Sauter - Free Agent Driver – In a stunning turn of events, GMS Racing parted ways with Sauter at the conclusion of the 2018 season. The veteran driver came up short in the championship race, but still had an incredible campaign. Sauter grabbed a career-best six victories and 14 Top-5 finishes, but finished fourth in the driver standings as a result of a bad outing at Homestead. The 2016 champion is still looking for a ride as of January 2019, which is almost unthinkable. He's been the most dominant driver in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series for the last three seasons, and has posted win and Top-10 totals that rival anyone in the series. Sauter's situation is one to watch closely as the season quickly approaches. There are still some open seats that are decent teams that could use a star like Sauter. Chief among them is the No. 8 team of Eddie Sharp Racing. Depending on where Sauter lands he could be a championship contender or just a lower top tier driver. His position in these driver rankings is very volatile at this point.

3. Harrison Burton - No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota – Burton returns to KBM this season, and will take on his first full season of action in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. The 18-year-old prodigy has raced a combined 15 starts in this division over the last three years with Kyle Busch Motorsports. Burton has forged four Top-5 and seven Top-10 finishes, including one pole, in those starts. The talent level is quite obvious. Burton nabbed five wins and marched to the championship in the K&N Pro Series East in 2017, so he's clearly one of the up-and-coming talents in the sport. KBM will put him in the strong No. 18 Toyota entry, and likely pair him with veteran crew chief Rudy Fugle. One or more visits to victory lane is all but in the bag, and an outside run at the championship is possible.

4. Austin Hill - No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota – The 24-year-old Georgian gets a major team upgrade in 2019. Hill takes over the championship-winning ride at Hattori Racing. This was the truck that Brett Moffitt piloted to six wins and the Gander Outdoors Truck Series title last season. Hill is coming off his best season of truck series racing at Young's Motorsports last year. He collected six Top-10 finishes and wound up a respectable 11th in the overall driver standings with this small race team. Hill will now team with crew chief, Scott Zipadelli, and attempt to hang onto the performance that Moffitt posted with this outfit last year. This young driver won't post six wins and a championship, but he should make a pretty big splash in 2019.

5. Grant Enfinger - No. 98 Curb Racing Ford – At the time of this writing the team's plans have not been announced, but we expect Enfinger to be back for season three in the No. 98 Ford F-150. The veteran driver posted career-best marks last season with this race team. Enfinger raced to his second-career truck series victory (Las Vegas), 15 Top-10 finishes and a lofty fifth-place finish in the final driver standings. He was shut out of racing for the championship at Homestead, but that could change in 2019. The 34-year-old driver should be paired once again with Jeff Hensley at crew chief, and continue to build on the upward momentum they've developed the past two seasons.

6. Ben Rhodes - No. 41 ThorSport Racing Ford – Rhodes is expected to return to the seat of this strong race team. Last year he nabbed one victory, 13 Top-10 finishes, three pole positions and wound up a respectable eighth-place in the final driver standings. While the campaign fell short of championship aspirations, Rhodes did build well on his solid 2017 season of similar performance. Rhodes and crew chief, Eddie Troconis, have built some nice chemistry the last two seasons. This young driver will be just turning 22-years-old early into the upcoming season, so he's still very young and teachable. With 73 combined starts in this division of NASCAR to his credit, Rhodes is one of the more experienced young drivers in the series.

7. Todd Gilliland - No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota – KBM is gearing up big behind this driver and race team as Gilliland will take over the No. 4 entry full-time in 2019. The 18-year-old talent made 19 of 23 events with this race team last season and posted some respectably good numbers along the way. It was Gilliland's first near-full schedule in this division of NASCAR, so lessons were learned aplenty. Gilliland managed four Top-5, nine Top-10 finish, and he even grabbed a pole position at Martinsville. The youngster led over 200 combined laps for the season, so he did get a good taste for racing at the front of the pack. Now it's time for Gilliland to up the ante and grab his first-career win, and challenge for the championship. With the help of crew chief Marcus Richmond, it should happen.

8. Stewart Friesen - No. 52 Halmar Friesen Racing Chevrolet – The veteran Canadian racer grew by leaps and bounds last year in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series. Friesen started all 23 events in his No. 52 Chevy Silverado and posted some great numbers. His nine Top-5 and 16 Top-10 finishes were career-best marks. Friesen would make a good push into the truck series playoffs, but fall short of racing for the crown at Homestead. Still, he would race among the leaders in last season's finale and finish an impressive fourth in the last race of last season. Friesen has served notice that he can compete at the front of the pack and challenge for victories. While he's yet to break through into victory lane to this point in his career, Friesen should make that breakthrough in 2019.

9. Brandon Jones/Spencer Davis/Riley Herbst/Kyle Busch - No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota – KBM filled this seat with several different drivers last season. The conglomerate nabbed two victories and 17 Top-10 finishes. The two wins were both Busch's trophies, but once again the youngsters still shined in this Toyota Tundra. Busch should make his usual three or four starts in this ride and as always is a threat to win any time he saddles up. The young driving corps will be without Harrison Burton this year as he moves over to the team's No. 18 entry full-time. So we could see a bit of tapering off in performance, but not by much. Davis and Herbst need more seat time, which they're in line to get in the upcoming campaign.

10. Matt Crafton - No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford – The 18-season veteran has become the truck series' elder statesman. At 42-years-old Crafton is one of the oldest driver's in the series. Unfortunately, we've begun to see some performance and skill deterioration in the two-time champion. Crafton labored through his toughest season since 2012 last year. He went winless for the first time in six years, and his Top-10 total of 13 was his lowest since 2011. Crafton's 69 laps led were also his lowest total in a number of years, and illustrates how tough the 2018 season was for the No. 88 team. We expect Crafton to be back with this race team in 2019, but don't expect in major rebounds in performance. It seems that some of the younger talents in this racing series have caught and passed Crafton in the last two years.

11. Driver TBD - No. 8 Eddie Sharp Racing Chevrolet – At the time of this writing ESR has not announced a driver lineup for the 2019 season. Last year it was the father-son duo of Joe Nemechek and John Hunter Nemechek that piloted the No. 8 Chevy to one win, six Top-5 and 12 Top-10 finishes. John Hunter has jumped at the opportunity to race full-time in the Xfinity Series for GMS Racing and contend for Rookie of the Year in that racing series. That doesn't rule out the young driver still racing in some part-time capacity for this team in the upcoming season. Joe also managed to post three of those dozen Top 10s and he could be in for some part-time action as well. However, we can't envision this duo filling out the full 23-race schedule. Another driver or drivers should be in the picture this season. Depending on who those mystery drivers are, will largely dictate this team's fortunes in 2019.

12. Sheldon Creed - No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet – GMS Racing ran a steady diet of Cody Coughlin in this truck last season, and Creed came in to finish the schedule with the last four races. He finished the season well grabbing one Top-5 and two Top-10s in those final four events. The youngster will now take over this truck full time in 2019. The team accounted for eight combined Top-10 finishes last season, so there's a bit of work to do. The good news is that they ran their best on Creed's watch at the end of the year, and nabbed their only Top 5 of the campaign. The 21-year-old driver earned this promotion after winning last season's ARCA Series championship in dominant fashion. Creed grabbed four wins, 16 Top 5s and the ARCA Series title. The elite level of talent is there, it just needs to be grown and cultivated.

13. Myatt Snider - No. 13 ThorSport Racing Ford – Snider made a pretty big splash in his full-time debut last season. He raced the No. 13 Ford to three Top-5 and eight Top-10 finishes, and came home a surprising ninth in the final driver standings. Consistency was good with this driver and team, but they didn't lead a lot of laps (55 for the season) and consequently weren't in the running to win any races. Snider and crew chief, Rich Lushes, will look to improve in their second season together, and they almost certainly will with ThorSport equipment and support. This driver is one of the up-and-coming faces in the sport, and he just needs more seat time.

14. Natalie Decker/Anthony Alfredo - No. 54 David Gilliland/Crosley Sports Group Toyota – This team will be an interesting outfit to watch in 2019. Both Decker and Alfredo are young rising talents in the stock car racing world. Decker made her big splash in the ARCA Series last year, piloting Venturini Motorsport's No. 25 Toyota to nine Top-10 finishes and a surprising seventh-place final spot in the driver standings. Alfredo was a big contender in the K&N Pro Series East last year. He captured one victory and nine Top 10s en route to a fifth-place points finish. This young duo will roughly split time in the DGR/Crosley No. 54 Toyota Tundra. Neither driver has any experience in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, but both have budding talent. That combined with a good race team, strong sponsorship package, and a veteran crew chief in Bono Manion, should add up to some surprisingly good performances.

15. Tyler Dippel - No. 02 Young's Motorsports Chevrolet – One of the new talents to the series in 2019, Dippel is fresh off three strong seasons in the K&N Pro Series East. He grabbed two victories, 21 Top-10 finishes and two Top-3 points finishes in that racing series since 2016. The 18-year-old talent will now take over the wheel of the No. 02 Chevy Silverado. Dippel replaces the departed Austin Hill, who grabbed six Top-10 finishes for this team last year and an 11th-place points finish. Dippel is young, but he does have some limited truck series experience. He made five starts last year with two different race teams, and nabbed four Top-15 finishes in those five starts. Dippel has a lot to learn in his first full-season of Gander Outdoors Truck Series racing, but this small team can help him succeed.

16. Spencer Boyd - No. 20 Young's Motorsports Chevrolet – Boyd competed full-time in the Xfinity Series last season. However, he makes the move into the Gander Outdoors Truck Series for 2019. He'll race full-time for the growing Young's Motorsports team. The No. 20 Chevy Silverado was piloted by a handful of young drivers last season to the tune of four Top-10 and nine Top-15 finishes. With the stability of Boyd behind the wheel each week in the upcoming campaign, this should improve. Crew chief, Andrew Abbott, is tabbed to return to the team and he should continue helping this team to grow. Boyd now has 47-combined starts between the Xfinity Series and Truck Series, so the improvement should be notable.

17. Drivers TBD - No. 25 GMS Racing Chevrolet – This team started last season with Dalton Sargeant and raced to some lackluster performance by mid-season. Sargeant claimed only one Top-5 and four Top-10 finishes in those first 16 events. GMS would then turn to a combination of Timothy Peters and Tyler Dippel to finish out the 2018 campaign. That veteran/rookie duo nabbed a victory, Peters at Talladega, and fourth-place finish (Peters again) and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. This team is up in the air coming into the new season. It remains to be seen if GMS Racing will find one driver, multiple drivers, or just fold the team altogether. We would rate the last option as least likely. There's definite potential for success here depending on who the team finds to pilot their Chevy Silverado.

18. Gus Dean - No. 12 Young's Motorsports Chevrolet – Dean makes the jump from the ARCA Series to the Gander Outdoors Truck Series in 2019. The 24-year-old driver will run for Rookie of the Year, and make a strong bid for that award in the upcoming season. Dean nabbed two victories and 27 Top-10 finishes over the last three seasons in ARCA, collecting a pair of Top 6 points finishes along the way. He's done all he can do at that level, and now it's time to move up to stiffer competition. Young's Motorsports will put him in the No. 12 Chevy Silverado and pair him with crew chief, Jeff Stankiewicz. This team was part-time last season with a handful of different drivers, and only made five events. So the expansion to full-time racing will come with some bumps along the way.

19. Tyler Ankrum - No. 17 David Gilliland/Crosley Sports Group Toyota – Ankrum won't be 18-years-old until a few weeks after Daytona, so that means he can't race until event number four at Martinsville. However, the youngster is poised to run nearly the entire schedule with the exception of the first three races. Gilliland and Crosley formed this race team last season and hosted a number of different drivers between the two trucks. Ankrum made two starts, and grabbed a surprising Top-10 finish at Phoenix last fall. The young Californian has been building his racing resume for the last few years. Ankrum dominated the K&N Pro Series East in 2018 to capture four victories and the championship in that series. Now he'll look to grab truck series Rookie of the Year in what is mostly a full-time schedule in 2019.

20. Austin Wayne Self - No. 22 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet – The youngster will be starting his fourth truck series season in 2019. Self spent last year getting this No. 22 team off the ground and established. He collected just one Top-10 and 10 Top-15 finishes in the campaign. It is expected that Self will be back at the wheel of the No. 22 Niece Chevy Silverado again in the upcoming campaign. He should be paired with crew chief Arthur Haire, who served the position down the stretch run last season. The duo seemed to click as Self grabbed some of his best finishes after mid-season. They aren't going to set the world on fire, but the duo should be improved in season two together.

21. Jordan Anderson - No. 3 Jordan Anderson Racing Chevrolet – The veteran driver from South Carolina posted a career-best campaign with this team last year. Anderson raced the No. 3 Chevrolet to two Top-10 and three Top-15 finishes to earn a career-best 15th-place finish in the final Gander Outdoors Truck Series standings. The average finish of 19.5 was also a career best, but needs some improvement in 2019. Plans for this race team have not been announced as of this writing, but it's expected that Anderson will return for another season with this race team. With sponsorship and funding looking pretty good, and Kevin Eagle should return in the crew chief position. Now with 79-career starts in this racing series, Anderson should be ready to step it up a notch.

22. Ross Chastain/Reid Wilson - No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet – Mid-January saw the announcement that veteran Chastain, and up-and-coming talent, Wilson would be sharing this ride in the upcoming season. This is the truck that Justin Fontaine piloted full-time last season. The youngster grabbed two Top-10 and five Top-15 finishes in the driver's seat of the No. 45 Chevy. Chastain is expected to get the majority of the starts for this team, with Wilson racing to a much lesser extent. Although that split in seat-time hasn't been exactly outlined by the team at this point. Veteran crew chief Phil Gould has been brought on board to give this team some needed guidance. This team has some upward potential in the rankings, but it will largely depend on how much Chastain races.

23. Chad Finley/Robby Lyons - No. 42 Chad Finley Racing Chevrolet – Finley patched together a couple starts last season with his own race team. Now they plan to go full-time in 2019. The 26-year-old driver surprised many when he grabbed a brilliant sixth-place finish at Gateway last season with this entry. Finley will team with Lyons to fill out the full truck series schedule. Lyons is a 30-year-old Floridian who's raced in the truck series part-time the last two seasons. The two drivers combine for just 16 starts of experience in this racing series, so that's pretty thin. However, they make up for it in age, maturity and years of racing in Super Late Models, ARCA and other racing series.

24. Jennifer Jo Cobb - No. 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing Chevrolet – Cobb's plans have not been announced as of this writing, however, she usually takes on the full truck series schedule when sponsorship permits. The 45-year-old veteran made 21 of the 23 events last season, and posted her typical numbers. Cobb accounted for two Top-15 and 12 Top-25 finishes, collecting six DNF's along the way. By Homestead, that placed Cobb 20th in the truck series driver standings, which was her best mark in the last three seasons. It also placed her with a 24.3 average finish. Cobb should be back in 2019 with crew chief Tim Silva, and a small race team with a tight budget.

25. Josh Reaume - No. 33 Reaume Brothers Racing Chevrolet – Reaume should be back at it again in 2019 with his own race team, and limited resources. He attempted 15 events last year, and made 12 race fields. Reaume grabbed three Top-20 finishes in those starts against four DNF's. Aside from Reaume, he put Robby Lyons, Jason White and Chad Finley in the truck for five starts, and they combined for one additional Top-20 finish. We could see a similar situation in the upcoming season with mostly Reaume, but a handful of other drivers racing. It's clear that they want to compete full-time, but lack the speed to qualify for each and every race. That makes them a shaky team to depend on in fantasy racing.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Taylor
Taylor is RotoWire's senior NASCAR writer. A nine-time FSWA finalist, Taylor was named the Racing Writer of the Year in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2016 and 2017. He is also a military historian, focused specifically on World War II and the U.S. Navy's efforts in the Pacific.
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