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NASCAR Craftsman Truck field shapes up for 2023

December has kicked off with three announcements in the first week that have shaped what the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series field will look like in 2023.

Photo of Rajah Caruth by Christian Peterson/Getty Images

On Tuesday, Petty-GMS Racing named Rajah Caruth as the full-time driver of their No. 24 Chevrolet for the 2023 season.

Caruth will be sponsored by the Wendell Scott Foundation. He will replace Jack Wood, who will drive part-time as the primary driver of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Chevrolet.

In 2022, Caruth made four Truck starts for Spire, seven Xfinity starts for Alpha Prime and finished third in the ARCA Menards Series points. His best finish in each series was 11th, 12th and 2nd, respectively.

Photo: Bill McAnally Racing

Shortly after the GMS Racing announcement, fellow Chevrolet team McAnally-Hilgemann Racing named Christian Eckes to their No. 19 truck and Jake Garcia to their No. 35 truck.

Christian Eckes will replace Derek Kraus, who drove the No. 19 in 2021 and ’22. Eckes’ deal came together a week before the announcement when he learned he wouldn’t be returning to ThorSport Racing.

Meanwhile, Garcia is being elevated from a part-time Truck tenure with MHR to full-time in the second truck, replacing Colby Howard.

Eckes’ old No. 98 ride is now open at ThorSport Racing, as a return to Ford has been heavily rumored for the Thorson family-owned team. The team still hasn’t confirmed those plans.

Render by Michael Carey, photo of Dean Thompson courtesy of TRICON Garage/DGR

TRICON Garage, who announced their switch from Ford to Toyota in October, announced Monday they will bring on Dean Thompson as the full-time driver of their No. 5 Toyota in 2023.

Thompson’s move leaves the No. 40 Niece Motorsports truck open but Niece also hasn’t confirmed how many trucks they will run in 2023.

In 2022, Thompson, Carson Hocevar, Lawless Alan and Kris Wright were all signed to run full-time for Niece, while the team also ran a fifth truck part-time.

Hocevar made the playoffs and was the only full-time driver to net a top-10 finish. Thompson and Alan did finish out the season but Wright was let go with six races to go.

Below is an overview of all of the team changes detailed in this article.

DriverTeam in 2022Team in 2023
Carson HocevarNo. 42 Niece Motorsports ChevroletNiece Motorsports (likely)
Christian EckesNo. 98 ThorSport Racing ToyotaNo. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet
Colby HowardNo. 91 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet???
Dean ThompsonNo. 40 Niece Motorsports ChevroletNo. 5 TRICON Garage Toyota
Derek KrausNo. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet???
Hailie DeeganNo. 1 David Gilliland Racing (now TRICON Garage) Ford???
Jack WoodNo. 24 Petty-GMS Racing ChevroletNo. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Chevrolet (part-time, primary driver)
Jake GarciaNo. 35 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet (five Truck races)No. 35 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet (full-time)
Kris WrightNo. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet, then No. 68 Brandonbilt Motorsports Xfinity Chevrolet???
Lawless AlanNo. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet???
Rajah CaruthSpire Motorsports No. 7 Chevrolet (seven Truck races)

Alpha Prime Racing Nos. 44/45 (four Xfinity races)

REV Racing No. 6 (full-time, ARCA)
No. 24 Petty-GMS Racing Chevrolet

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