Its allll about previews this month at Spade Racing—check back every week for a different national touring series preview (Cup, Xfinity, Trucks) with a “Four Corners” flair. Why Four Corners? Well, most oval tracks have four corners, and Spade Racing does four pieces a week during race season (10th Anniversary Season this year!).
Here’s a look at how the currently-announced teams with full-time drivers will do this year in the Truck Series, conveniently split into four easy-to-digest categories. Note: * denotes unconfirmed but expected 2022 plans
# Driver (Race Team): PREVIEW. Ceiling.
Black: Chevy Blue: Ford Red: Toyota
1ST CORNER: Grizzled Old Veterans—these Truck Series near-lifers are the backbone of this series.
88 Matt Crafton (ThorSport Racing): Very little seems to change for the Crafton-ThorSport-88-Menards quartet, and in a series like this one where drivers switch places like the old developmental programs of the early-00’s, that really means something. Ceiling: Championship followed by a dull thinkpiece on FS1.
*13 Johnny Sauter (ThorSport Racing): Assuming this solid relationship is renewed for 2022, expect to see Johnny have a major bounce back year after inexplicably missing the Playoffs. Ceiling: Semi-surprising championship in which he has to bump-and-run someone at Phoenix.
99 Ben Rhodes (ThorSport Racing): Gee, quite the veteran-laden squad in Sandusky, eh? With little changing Ben “Dusty” Rhodes is a decent pick to repeat as champion. Ceiling: Winning the title again after some HARD TIMES, BAYBEH…
4 John Hunter Nemechek (Kyle Busch Motorsports): JHN had a triumphant return to the Truck Series in 2021, but a slight dip in performance at the end of last year could linger into this year. Ceiling: Crashes the Championship Four and joins his dad as a national touring series champion (sans Burger King sponsorship).
52 Stewart Friesen (Halmar Friesen Racing): The Canadian driver’s progression from also-ran to championship contender has been nice to watch, but he needs to prove he can win somewhere other than dirt on the regular. Ceiling: Top-finishing driver in the points without a win.
time. A few wins if they don’t…hey maybe we’ll get yet another driver named “Chase”.
23 Grant Enfinger (GMS Racing): A full-time ride is nice, although the effects of GMS now running in Cup remain to be seen. Ceiling: Challenging for the Championship Four while people wonder why he doesn’t have Ty Dillon’s Cup ride.
12 Spencer Boyd (Young’s Motorsports): This small team keeps plugging along. Ceiling: An upset win at Talladega, a quick Playoff exit, a return to this ride in 2023.
56 Timmy Hill (Hill Motorsports): Everybody’s favorite driver from Port Tobacco Maryland will be running full-time for his own team this year. Ceiling: Some top-tens and a top-five or two; Matt Kenseth fans finally forgiving him.
2nd CORNER: Grizzled Young Vets—some decent experience in this group of young drivers.
*98 Christian Eckes, possibly (ThorSport Racing): IF this team runs with Eckes full-time in 2022, expect them to surprise a few people. Ceiling: A few wins IF Eckes run full-
38 Zane Smith (Front Row Motorsports): Last year Zane Smith made “the leap”. Unfortunately he lost his ride, but he’s likely to be safe here…until Todd Gilliland gets tired of finishing 27th in Cup races. Ceiling: Surprising challenge for the Championship Four and a win…getting a better ride for next season.
16 Tyler Ankrum (Hattori Racing Enterprises): Last year was quite a disappointment for Tyler, but maybe a move from GMS to HRE will be an improvement. Ceiling: A Playoff berth for the second-most-famous “HRE”.
*02 Jesse Little (Young’s Motorsports): If this truck (assumed to be #02) runs full-time, Jesse could surprise a few people. Ceiling: Some top-tens and a John Deere throwback scheme at some point.
30 Tate Fogelman (On Point Motorsports): He was the worst-finishing male to run the full-schedule last year. And if Jennifer Jo Cobb doesn’t run full-time in 2022, he could be the worst-finishing DRIVER. Ceiling: A top-ten finish in one of the superspeedway races, and possibly a pre-race interview the following week.
3rd CORNER: Non-Rookie Young’uns—they have at least a season under their belts.
18 Chandler Smith (Kyle Busch Motorsports): The only one of this bunch to make the Playoffs last year AND win races. That’s worth something…right? Ceiling: Advancing deep in the Playoffs with no funny “Chandler from Friends” jokes (…just like Chandler from Friends).
19 Derek Kraus (McAnally-Hilgemann Racing): A switch to a new manufacturer could be enough to get Derek and this team into the Playoffs. Ceiling: The Playoffs—ok, so I’m running out of stuff to say here.
42 Carson Hocevar (Niece Motorsports): The only returning full-time driver to the ever-changing Niece Motorsports is the default leader in 2022. Ceiling: Another Playoff berth and a year of people pronouncing his last name correctly.
61 Chase Purdy (Hattori Racing Enterprises): Last year was quite a disappointment for Chase, but maybe a move from GMS to HRE will be an improvement. Ceiling: A Playoff berth for the second-most-famous “HRE”…and separation from his teammate.
24 Jack Wood (GMS Racing): The seemingly-long-time developmental driver gets his first shot in a full-time ride this year. Ceiling: A bunch of top-fives, possibly a race win, and people giggling at his name.
1 Hallie Deegan (David Gilliland Racing): Last year was…not good for Hallie. Maybe a year of experience under her belt will allow her to post a respectable season. Ceiling: bringing home her truck in good shape, a few top-tens, more and more creepy fans.
15 Tanner Gray (David Gilliland Racing): A third-place finish at Martinsville showed that maybe—just maybe—Tanner has some real talent under the surface. Ceiling: a few more top-tens and more people realizing he and his brother are two different people.
44 Kris Wright (Niece Motorsports): A big step-up in equipment from Young’s to Niece…but will Kris deliver? Ceiling: A steady stream to top-twenties, which counts as “delivering” by my books.
4th CORNER: Rookies—A bumper crop of rookies arrive in the Truck Series in 2022.
45 Lawless Alan (Niece Motorsports): The Lawless One has a full-time Truck Series ride in 2022. Ceiling: Rookie of the Year, plus a possible race win, and people wondering who would name their kid “Lawless”.
25 Matt DiBenedetto (RackleyWAR): Matty D lost his Cup ride but he found a decent landing spot with a full-time Truck Series team. Ceiling: An upset win followed by a teary-eyed post-burnout interview.
40 Dean Thompson (Niece Motorsports): Its nice to see a young driver get a shot in decent equipment, but it’ll be up to him to prove he belongs. Ceiling: Doing better than the driver he replaced (Ryan Truex, so that should be pretty easy).
91 Colby Howard (McAnally-Hilgemann Racing): No number assigned yet but its a definite step up from a partial season with JD Motorsports in the Xfinity Series. Ceiling: Keeping this ride for the whole year and learning how to pronounce “Hilgemann”.
9 Blaine Perkins (CR7 Motorsports): He didn’t show much in the Xfinity Series last year, but maybe he can in a lower-pressure situation here. Ceiling: Figuring out who the heck he is.