NASCAR Draft Kit: 2023 Truck Series Rankings

NASCAR Draft Kit: 2023 Truck Series Rankings

This article is part of our NASCAR Draft Kit series.

This article is part of our NASCAR Draft Kit Series

  1. Zane Smith – No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford – Everything came together for Smith to have a storybook season in 2022. The young FRM driver grabbed four victories, 14 Top-5 finishes and was the driver to beat most weekends of the season. It all culminated in a dominant season-ending performance at Phoenix where Smith won from the pole to capture the 2022 truck series title. He'll be back with this same team in the upcoming season and be tasked with the title defense. Chris Lawson will return at crew chief and the duo will look to build on the great season they had last year. With some of the truck series title contenders moving up the NASCAR ladder in the off-season, Smith has to be seen as the driver to beat in 2023.   
  2. Ty Majeski – No. 66 ThorSport Racing Ford – After a ground-breaking season with ThorSport in 2022, Majeski returns to the No. 66 team and crew chief Joe Shear Jr. The duo posted two victories and 15 Top-10 finishes last season to finish fourth in the final standings. It was a breakout season for Majeski at this point in his NASCAR career. ThorSport will be switching from Toyota to Ford in the upcoming campaign, but that should be of little concern. This team has been not shy about swapping out manufacturers every few seasons, so they know the drill. They've been a long-time Ford team

This article is part of our NASCAR Draft Kit Series

  1. Zane Smith – No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford – Everything came together for Smith to have a storybook season in 2022. The young FRM driver grabbed four victories, 14 Top-5 finishes and was the driver to beat most weekends of the season. It all culminated in a dominant season-ending performance at Phoenix where Smith won from the pole to capture the 2022 truck series title. He'll be back with this same team in the upcoming season and be tasked with the title defense. Chris Lawson will return at crew chief and the duo will look to build on the great season they had last year. With some of the truck series title contenders moving up the NASCAR ladder in the off-season, Smith has to be seen as the driver to beat in 2023.   
  2. Ty Majeski – No. 66 ThorSport Racing Ford – After a ground-breaking season with ThorSport in 2022, Majeski returns to the No. 66 team and crew chief Joe Shear Jr. The duo posted two victories and 15 Top-10 finishes last season to finish fourth in the final standings. It was a breakout season for Majeski at this point in his NASCAR career. ThorSport will be switching from Toyota to Ford in the upcoming campaign, but that should be of little concern. This team has been not shy about swapping out manufacturers every few seasons, so they know the drill. They've been a long-time Ford team in the past and should be quite all right with the move. Majeski has shown he can win, now he needs to show he can win a championship.        
  3. Ben Rhodes – No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford – The eight-year veteran nearly pulled off a successful title defense of his 2021 championship. Rhodes would win one race and nab 13 Top-10 finishes in 2022, but fall just short of the title and would finish runner-up in the points last season. The ThorSport Racing star has put together some of his best racing in the last three seasons. Rhodes will continue on with the No. 99 team, but make the switch from Toyota to Ford and change in crew chiefs. Jerrod Prince takes over for Rich Lushes as the No. 13 and No. 99 teams swapped chiefs. Rhodes will look to form chemistry with him quickly and continue being a race winner and championship contender in 2023.
  4. Chase Purdy – No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Chevrolet – For Purdy's third full season in the truck series he makes a pretty tremendous leap in teams. He leaves Hattori Racing Enterprises where he finished 16th in last season's driver standings and moves to the strong KBM No. 4 truck. This is the same team that Chandler Smith piloted to three victories and 16 Top-10 finishes last season. While they will be changing manufacturers from Toyota to Chevrolet for 2023, the change in performance shouldn't be too noticeable. Purdy is just 22-years-old but has over 50 starts in this division of NASCAR. He should take a quantum leap in terms of performance this year.
  5. Stewart Friesen – No. 52 Halmar Racing Toyota – Friesen's fifth full season in the Craftsman Truck Series claimed one win and 13 Top-10 finishes en route to a respectable sixth-place finish in the final points. The Canadian returns to the No. 52 Toyota team in 2023 and will continue his pursuit of a championship in this division of NASCAR. Friesen is one of the top veterans at now 39-years-old and with 138 truck series starts to his credit. He's a very seasoned driver in what is increasingly a young man's division of the sport. Jon Leonard returns at crew chief and he will continue the work that Friesen and he have put together at this race team. Multiple wins and double digit Top 5's are within their reach.  
  6. Corey Heim – No. 11 TRICON Garage Toyota – The 20-year-old talent had quite the season with Kyle Busch Motorsports last year. Heim's rookie campaign would include two wins, two poles and 10 Top-10 finishes. Since he only competed in 16 events, Heim wouldn't factor in the championship picture. However, this year he's set to take on the full slate of races with new team TRICON Garage. Heim will pilot their No. 11 Toyota and look to push into the upper tier of drivers in 2023. It will be a tall task after the team change, but we believe Heim has the talent to make it happen.  There are some unknowns about this team at the time of this writing so the picture isn't completely clear, but Heim's talent alone is good enough to take this team far.   
  7. Grant Enfinger – No. 23 GMS Racing Chevrolet – Enfinger is now one of the older drivers in the series at 38-years-old, but he's shown little signs of slowing down. His 150-career starts have netted seven victories, 89 Top-10 finishes and Top 10 points finishes in four different seasons. While Enfinger has lacked the luck and extra little push to capture a championship, he has consistently been one of the satellite drivers around the upper tier in the Craftsman Truck Series. He returns to the No. 23 Chevrolet of GMS Racing for this season and will look to build on the one-win, 12 Top-10 campaign he posted in 2022. Enfinger is a consistent and seasoned driver who should fetch dependable results.
  8. Christian Eckes – No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet – Eckes was very competitive and consistent in the No. 98 team last season. He would grab eight Top-5 and 15 Top-10 finishes, but somehow miss the luck or ingredients to capture a win in 2022. Eckes moves on from that team in the upcoming season and settles in with the No. 19 Chevrolet of McAnally-Hilgemann Racing. This team was fairly competitive last season with Derek Kraus behind the wheel (two poles and seven Top-10 finishes) but Eckes is undeniably an upgrade in the driver's seat. This team has lots of potential and Eckes with the help of crew chief Charles Denike should find that potential in 2023. They should be able to challenge for wins and make a drive into the truck series playoffs.
  9. Matt DiBenedetto – No. 25 Rackley W.A.R. Chevrolet – The journeyman driver is back with Rackley W.A.R. this season. DiBenedetto grabbed a surprising victory late last season at Talladega in addition to posting seven Top 10's last year with this team. While it had its highlights, it was still a season that fell short in a few places for DiBenedetto. He would wind up a distant 13th-place in the final driver points, and that's where he'd like to make some improvement in the upcoming campaign. We expect to see better week-to-week consistency from this driver and team as they continue to grow together. Hopefully, they can also hang onto their winning ways from last season as well.   
  10. Matt Crafton – No. 88 ThorSport Racing Ford – The longest tenured driver (22 seasons) in the Craftsman Truck Series returns for another campaign in the No. 88 Ford in 2023. Crafton is a three-time series champion and owns over 500-career starts in this division of NASCAR. He's not much of a threat to win anymore (just 1 victory in the past five seasons) but Crafton is still a model of consistency behind the wheel. He's averaged 13 Top 10's per season over the past three years and generally finishes between fifth- and ninth-place in the driver points. Soon to be 47-years-old, Father Time has taken a small toll on his skills, but Crafton is still a pretty dependable performer in this rough-and-tumble racing series.
  11. Carson Hocevar – No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet – Despite a winless campaign last season, Hocevar raced very competitively and would wind up with seven Top-5 and 12 Top-10 finishes. The Niece Motorsports youngster would finish a respectable 10th-place in the series standings for the second-straight year. Hocevar returns to the No. 42 Chevrolet for another campaign in 2023 and he'll look to collect that first-career win that has evaded him so far through 54 truck series starts. He'll once again be partnered with crew chief Phil Gould and the two will look to push this team into race-winning form and possible championship contention. Hocevar has some undeniable racing talent that has yet to be fully tapped. 
  12. Tyler Ankrum – No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota – Ankrum's development had sort of stalled out the last couple seasons. That much-anticipated follow up win to his rookie season victory still hasn't materialized. In fact, statistically, Ankrum has flat lined since that strong rookie campaign in 2019. He returns to Hattori's strong No. 16 truck in 2023, but this season he'll get a crew chief change. Ankrum will now be partnered with longtime veteran Doug Randolph. Randolph has close to 600 starts of experience as a crew chief combined between NASCAR's top three touring series. He also has seven-career wins in the truck series and a runner-up finish in the points with Tyler Reddick in 2015. His experience should hopefully push Ankrum up to the next level of performance.
  13. Tanner Gray – No. 15 TRICON Garage Toyota – The 23-year-old talent returns to TRICON Garage this season to continue building on the good work they've accomplished so far. Last season's toil netted two Top-5 and six Top-10 finishes and a respectable 15th-place finish in the final driver points. Gray started the season well, but sort of fell into a slump in the latter third of the campaign and slipped from 11th to 15th in the standings. However, he did end the season well with a Top-10 finish at Phoenix. Gray will once again be paired with crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. and the two will look to continue pursing elusive victories and more Top 10's.   
  14. Taylor Gray – No. 17 TRICON Garage Toyota – Gray's two seasons of part-time racing in this division of NASCAR are now complete and now the soon-to-be 18-year-old driver is ready to take on a full slate of races for the first time. Gray's 13 starts over the last two seasons have netted a pair of Top-10 finishes with short tracks appearing to be his biggest strength. TRICON Garage, formerly David Gilliland Racing, will pair Gray with ace crew chief, Chad Johnston, and look to make a big splash in Gray's rookie season. The young driver has a lot of potential, so most of the burden will be on this race team to provide Gray with a fast truck week-in and week-out.   
  15. Hailie Deegan – No. 13 ThorSport Racing Ford – Deegan's first two seasons with David Gilliland Racing didn't go quite as well as planned. She nabbed just two Top 10's last year and finished a distant 21st-place in the driver standings. Deegan looks to hit the reset button on her racing career and makes the move to ThorSport Racing in 2023. This strong team will field the No. 13 Ford for her in the full schedule. Deegan showed a lot of talent and potential in her racing in the lower divisions of NASCAR. She'll look to rediscover that talent with this good race team in the truck series. Deegan will be paired with crew chief Rich Lushes and the two will look to push up the driver standings this season with multiple Top-10 efforts.
  16. Jack Wood/Kyle Busch/Other Drivers – No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Chevrolet – This truck was split between Busch, Corey Heim and a couple other drivers last season. As always, when Busch is behind the wheel this team is a threat to win and crack the Top 5. However, that was just five starts last season. All drivers combined, this team netted three victories and 15 Top-10 finishes. We expect a bit of a pullback in terms of performance this season. Wood will get most of the starts and he's a bit of a "project driver" at this point in his career. This is a team to keep an eye peeled for when Busch is on the entry list, but it could be an up-and-down affair the rest of the season.
  17. Nick Sanchez – No. 2 Rev Racing Chevrolet – The 2022 ARCA Menards Series champion will make the jump full-time to trucks in the upcoming season. Sanchez completely dominated that lower division last year with three victories and 16 Top-10 finishes en route to the title. Sanchez will turn 22-years-old mid-season and that's a bit older than most drivers who make this promotion. Rev Racing put together an alliance with Kyle Busch Motorsports to field this truck this season, so it should be good equipment and personnel. Veteran crew chief Danny Stockman will be calling the shots for Sanchez in his first truck series season. The young driver should have the inside track on this season's Rookie of the Year award with this kind of support.    
  18. Colby Howard – No. 91 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet – At the time of this writing Howard has not been confirmed in the No. 91 Chevrolet, but it is expected that he'll return to this team for a second season of Craftsman Truck Series action. The young driver nabbed three Top-10 and nine Top-15 finishes last season, and was particularly strong down the stretch. Howard registered two Top 10's and four Top 15's in those final five events of 2022. The rookie would finish a respectable 17th in the final driver standings of last year. Howard should return to a completely returning team that he's familiar with, including crew chief Mike Hillman. We expect to see some incremental improvement from this driver in team in their second season together.
  19. Unknown Drivers – No. 02 Young's Motorsports Chevrolet – Young's No. 02 team raced the full season in 2022 with an assortment of drivers. We saw heavy doses of Kaz Grala, Jesse Little and even a start by Johnny Sauter. The driver lineup has yet to be announced for 2023, but we would expect it will be another driver rotation. With Grala racing full-time in the Xfinity Series in the upcoming year, we won't likely see much of him behind the wheel. The trio collected two Top-10 and six Top-15 finishes last season. There is a competitive spark here and it will just take the proper drivers to unleash it on the track this season. Until the team makes an announcement on pilots, we're preliminarily slotting them at #19 in the pre-season rankings.
  20. Dean Thompson – No. 5 TRICON Garage Toyota – Thompson's rookie season was a rough and tumble affair. He'd collect just four Top-15 finishes vs. five DNF's. Thompson has moved on from Niece Motorsports and will join the growing TRICON Garage team in 2023. He'll pilot the No. 5 Toyota and look to build greater performance and consistency in the upcoming season. Thompson limped to a distant 23rd-place finish in the final driver standings of last year, and we expect he'll improve marginally on that in the upcoming campaign. His crew chief at the No. 5 team has not been announced at the time of this writing, but whomever that is will play a very important part in Thompson's continued development.
  21. Austin Wayne Self – No. 22 AM Racing Chevrolet – Plans have not been announced as of this writing for the No. 22 AM Racing team, but it is expected that Self will return to this team in 2023. He made 17 of 23 starts last season in this truck collecting two Top-10 and four Top-15 finishes. Brett Moffitt and Max Gutierrez combined to fill out the remainder of last season's schedule in this truck and nabbed an additional Top 10 by Gutierrez at Nashville. Self's average finish ballooned to 22.3 last season, which was a career-worst mark. He'll need to improve on that, especially if he's tabbed to race most if not all the 2023 calendar for this team.
  22. Lawless Alan – No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet – Alan is expected to be confirmed as returning to the Niece No. 45 Chevrolet for the upcoming season. The young driver had a struggle-filled campaign as a rookie last year. Alan grabbed just one Top-15 finish and found it difficult staying on the lead lap in several races last season. However, there was a ray of sunshine in the season finale at Phoenix last November as Alan finished a respectable 18th-place in the season finale. With just one full season of truck series racing under his belt, there's definite room for improvement. Darren Fraley should return as crew chief and help Alan get a better footing in the 2023 campaign.         
  23. Rajah Caruth – No. 24 GMS Racing Chevrolet – Caruth makes the promotion from the ARCA Menards Series and will run his first full-time effort in the Craftsman Truck Series this season. The talented youngster replaces Jack Wood in the No. 24 Chevy truck. Wood struggled to just one Top-15 finish in this truck last season, and that level of performance was under the expectations of GMS Racing. Caruth has shown skill and great consistency in the lower divisions of NASCAR, but not the winning touch just yet. He's on the fast track of driver development and will be thrown into a full schedule after making just four truck series starts last season to get his feet wet. Caruth has some great potential but it's likely going to be an uneven season of racing with him learning the ropes in this very competitive division of NASCAR.
  24. Daniel Dye – No. 43 GMS Racing Chevrolet – The 19-year-old Floridian has been raising eyebrows in the ARCA Menards Series the last couple years, so he's gotten the attention of noteworthy teams in the Craftsman Truck Series. GMS Racing wasted no time signing Dye last October to compete full-time in their No. 43 Chevy truck. Dye will be paired with crew chief Travis Sharpe for this rookie season and the two will look to elevate this team immediately. The young driver, while winless last season in the ARCA Menards Series, showed great maturity and consistency and finished runner-up in the championship standings of 2022. Dye has great potential and will battle hotly with drivers like Nick Sanchez and Rajah Caruth for rookie of the year honors.    
  25. Unknown Drivers – No. 20 Young's Motorsports Chevrolet – This team had multiple drivers in 2022 and will likely employ that strategy again in the upcoming season. Matt Mills, Danny Bohn, Stefan Parsons and Jesse Little made up the bulk of that driver rotation. The conglomerate managed just one Top-10 and four Top-15 finishes. A lot of details and sponsorships are unannounced at the time of this writing as well as who will be the primary pilots. The team is well equipped enough to make most of the race fields and race competitively at times. However, the lack of continuity behind the wheel makes for an inconsistent level of performance.
  26. Timmy Hill/Tyler Hill – No. 56 Hill Motorsports Toyota – Hill Motorsports had two trucks last season for the brothers, but it looks like they'll be pulling back to just one full-time team in 2023. Timmy ran the full schedule and only grabbed two Top-15 finishes in what was a bit of a disappointing effort. Tyler made just seven starts in the other team's Toyota and was unable to crack the Top 20 in any of those starts. The team hasn't announced the driver split of the No. 56 Toyota for the upcoming season, but we would imagine it's a heavy dose of Timmy since he has over 450 starts of experience in NASCAR's top three touring series. Tyler is not nearly as seasoned with just 31-career truck series starts to his credit. It will be a full-time effort, but level of performance will likely run pretty thin.
  27. Unknown Driver – No. 61 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota – This second Hattori team was quite successful last season. Chase Purdy piloted this team to two Top-10 and 12 Top-15 finishes before leaving for greener pastures at Kyle Busch Motorsports for 2023. At the time of this writing, HRE has yet to name a driver for this second team, but that's a situation to keep an eye on as the season approaches. If they plan to field this truck in the upcoming season, there's a lot of performance potential here depending on the pilot. The right driver signing and a full schedule could easily push this team into the Top 20 of the driver rankings.
  28. Ryan Vargas – No. 30 On Point Motorsports Toyota – Vargas makes the move from the Xfinity Series to the Craftsman Truck Series in 2023. He will race a part-time schedule with On Point Motorsports. Vargas is signed up for about 7 of the 23 events, so the team will rely on other pilots to fill out the full schedule. Tate Fogleman and Kaden Honeycutt were relied on heavily in this truck last season, and may be called upon again in the upcoming campaign. This team's driving conglomerate yielded one Top-10 and three Top-15 finishes last season in a respectable, competitive effort. Vargas brings over 60 starts of Xfinity Series experience to the table and crew chief Steve Lane also brings over 450 starts of experience across all three of NASCAR's top touring series.                   
  29. Spencer Boyd – No. 12 Young's Motorsports Chevrolet – Young's announced that Boyd would be returning for the full season in early January. They have sponsors lined up behind the effort and everyone is energized. However, Boyd has a lot to prove in 2023. He ended last season on a three-race DNF slump. He also only collected a lowly three Top-20 finishes for the season, finishing a distant 28th-place in the final driver standings. Boyd can do better and he has performed better in recent seasons. He and crew chief Ryan London will attempt to sort things out and get this team racing at least as competitively as the other Young's teams. This driver and team have Top-20 rankings potential, but they have a lot of work to do to get there.
  30. Mason Massey – No. 33 Reaume Brothers Racing Ford – Massey makes a return to the Craftsman Truck Series after spending the last three seasons racing in the Xfinity Series. The young driver has been signed to race Reaume Brother's No. 33 Ford F-150 in 2023. This team competed full-time last year with an assortment of different drivers. They'd manage just four Top-20 finishes for the season and fail to get much traction. Massey's 50+ starts of experience over the last four years is hoped to be the catalyst to push this team to better results. However, the reality is this is a small race team that competes at a money and equipment disadvantage. Unfortunately, we only foresee marginal improvement with Massey behind the wheel.
  31. Jake Garcia – No. 35 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet – The soon to be 18-year-old (March) dipped his toes into the truck series pool last season to the tune of five starts. Garcia was reasonably competitive in those races, collecting a pair of Top-20 finishes and learning a lot of lessons in that seat time. He now moves to full-time and will compete in what is a very deep rookie class for the upcoming season. The good news is that veteran crew chief, Chad Norris, has been tabbed to guide Garcia this season. The two worked together last year and began establishing some chemistry. Garcia's background is not quite as deep as some of the other rookie drivers this season, so he faces an uphill battle to perform in this team's third truck.
  32. Unknown Driver – No. 40 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet – At the time of this writing, Niece Motorsports has yet to name a replacement for Dean Thompson in the No. 40 Chevrolet. Thompson raced full-time as a rookie in this truck last season and grabbed four Top-15 finishes. The 25.2 average finish for the campaign was a bit lower than the team would have liked, so the two parted ways. This team has funding, sponsorship and great people calling the shots. There's great potential with this race team, but the big unknown for 2023 is the driver. Depending on who they can sign will largely dictate the No. 40 team's ability to move up these rankings.
  33. Unknown Driver – No. 9 CR7 Motorsports Chevrolet – Blaine Perkins left for the Xfinity Series this season, so the No. 9 CR7 team is left searching for a driver heading into the new season. Perkins collected seven Top-25 finishes in a challenged effort. The 27.8 average finish for the campaign left a lot to be desired. CR7 will look to head in a new direction in the upcoming season. Doug George should return at crew chief, so there will be 288 starts of experience sitting atop the team's war wagon. A talented veteran driver could take this small team to new heights, or they could struggle once again in 2023 with a younger inexperienced pilot.     
  34. Unknown Driver – No. 75 Henderson Motorsports Chevrolet – This was one of the more capable and competitive part-time teams of last season. Parker Kligerman piloted this truck in 12 events, roughly half the schedule, and fetched some pretty impressive results. He would grab a surprising win at Mid-Ohio and collect eight Top-10 finishes. It was a performance packed, dynamo of a team when they raced. Plans have not been announced for this team in 2023, including who will drive. They could tab one veteran driver or rely on an assortment of drivers to tackle what would likely be a similar schedule. Their season-long fantasy worth is muted due to only racing part-time, but they're worth consideration in daily lineup play type games.

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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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