It appears another full-time NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team will be part of a new NASCAR Cup Series team for at least part of the 2022 season (GMS Racing has already announced their intentions of moving to the NASCAR Cup Series in some capacity for 2022), according to industry insiders that have disclosed the information to TobyChristie.com. According to the sources, the new NCS team will have Toyota Racing Development Support.
While the sources did not disclose which Truck Series team is involved, they did say the official news could come as early as this week.
There has been a lot of talk about the cost savings for NASCAR Cup Series organizations with the upcoming Next Gen model, which debuts in 2022. It appears the savings are large enough that Truck Series teams, Xfinity Series teams and people who are currently outsiders of the sport, are considering starting NASCAR Cup Series teams.
Obviously, for GMS Racing as well as this new mystery Toyota Truck Series team, the big hoop to jump through would be acquiring one of the 36 charters that secures entry into each NASCAR Cup Series event, as well as a significantly larger portion of the race purse than unchartered teams. But a Charter is only necessary if the teams plan on running the full campaign.
There is a chance one or both Truck Series teams that are looking to move, dip their toes into the water in a part-time capacity next season, similar to what Kaulig Racing has done this year.
Kaulig Racing has run a total of six races this season, and they’ve run them well, scoring three top-10s and averaging a finish of 14.7. Kaulig has since secured two Charters for the 2022 season. Could GMS and the mystery Toyota team take a similar path? We’ll see.
That being said, who could be the mystery team making the move? There are a lot of interesting Truck Series teams that are aligned with Toyota.
ThorSport Racing is much like a GMS Racing. They are a long-standing powerhouse in the NCWTS ranks and they field four trucks in the Series currently, and they have a mix of younger talent and veteran talent on their driving roster. A Matt Crafton or Johnny Sauter could help the team get through a first year while building a Cup Series program, while a Ben Rhodes or even Christian Eckes (in the TRD pipeline) could provide a young spark to a new Cup team
A lot about ThorSport makes sense as far as potentially moving to Cup.
There’s also Kyle Busch Motorsports. While KBM has been beating up the competition in the NCWTS for years, it would feel like a logical move for Busch to start dipping his toe into Cup Series ownership. Denny Hamlin, Busch’s teammate, is part-owner of the 23XI Racing team and more and more Cup Series drivers are starting to find themselves in an ownership role, such as Brad Keselowski. Busch very well could be the next.
Busch is right in that age range where he’s still in his prime behind the wheel, but if he dreams of being a NCS car owner someday, it would be wise to get a head start on that. Add in the fact that he has a driver in John Hunter Nemechek, who definitely seems ready for the big stage in a well funded car, and this move would just make sense.
But while big-names are what you expect when a team moves to Cup, there very well could be a huge benefit for a smaller organization who could parlay moving their team to Cup into a larger alliance with Toyota.
Stewart Friesen’s Halmar Friesen Racing team has been rumored for years to be moving to the Xfinity Series, yet they’ve stayed in the Truck Series. His team runs Toyotas through a deal with KBM, could they be the mystery team?
There’s also Hattori Racing Enterprises, which is in the midst of a two-race winning streak in the Truck Series with Austin Hill. Hill and HRE have sponsorship support from United Rentals, and they’ve also had some NASCAR Xfinity Series starts in partnership with MBM Motorsports over the last few years. HRE is a very realistic possibility.
McAnally-Hilgemann Racing is another intriguing option. They are a Toyota Racing team and they field trucks for a young up and coming driver in Derek Kraus. While Kraus regressed on the track this season, compared to his rookie campaign last season, the No. 19 team very well could be the mystery team.
Then there’s Reaume Brothers Racing, who run a mix of Chevrolet Silverados and Toyota Tundras, currently. RBR has dipped their toe into NASCAR Xfinity Series action the last couple of seasons with partnerships with RSS Racing and Our Motorsports. There is an outside chance the mystery team could also be the Reaume bunch.
Whatever team it turns out to be, obviously, the big thing for Toyota would be adding more teams to their stable for the 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season and beyond. The manufacturer has been out-numbered by Ford and Chevrolet for years.
TRD has the four Joe Gibbs Racing teams, the 23XI car and that’s about it as far as manufacturer supported teams go. There is a slight partnership with Gaunt Brothers Racing, but Gaunt significantly scaled their program back this year after running full-time in 2020.