NASCAR Truck Series News (6269)
Gander Outdoors Truck Series News
Decker Joining Niece Motorsports For NASCAR Truck Series, Continuing With Tony AVE For West Coast Trans-Am Championship Run16 Jan 2020 Written by Speedway Digest Staff
It's a new year, and for Natalie Decker, that means new goals, a new number, same mindset.
Running multiple races in her rookie season, Decker has signed with Niece Motorsports after wrapping up her rookie year with DGR-CROSLEY.
Decker will be in a part-time ride in the Niece Motorsports No. 44 Chevy for her NASCAR Truck Season as she continues her journey towards competing in the NASCAR Cup Series. In 2019, she saw great success, finishing 19th in the series as a rookie in a part-time schedule.
Following her to Niece Motorsports will again be the backing of her main sponsor N29 Technologies.
“Natalie has shown a lot of talent and we’re looking forward to helping her continue to develop that. Last year was her first season in these trucks, so it was a big learning year for her. We are really excited about the schedule she is going to run this year because we feel like it will build on her strengths,” said Cody Efaw, Technical Director of Niece Motorsports.
As she brings her infectious enthusiasm and focus to Niece Motorsports, she joins forces with Ross Chastain, new signee Carson Hocevar, and fellow Wisconsin native Ty Majeski. Natalie will be piloting the No. 44, sharing seat time with Chastain, who will make the full time jump to Xfinity after winning three truck races in 2019 and finishing 2nd in the race for the Championship in Miami.
“Change is inevitable. Change is expected and exciting, and change is also frightening! But this year is a year I’m ready for! I have never felt so prepared with, my health, in the gym, and mentally. With so many things to be excited about working with Niece Motorsports starting with my teammates Ross and Ty. I’m ready to learn from them and be 100% open-minded going into this season!”, says an exuberant Decker.
Decker's first race with Niece Motorsports will be this coming February 14th at Daytona International Speedway.
“We have high expectations for Natalie this year and are excited to get to Daytona with her!”, said Efaw.
In addition, Decker has announced she will again work with Tony Ave and AVE Motorsports running a full schedule in the SGT-Trans Am West Coast Series. She will race in a GT-4, with sites set on a championship, starting March 14th at Sonoma Raceway.
When asked about the upcoming season, Ave said “We are looking forward to running Natalie for a points championship this year, as well as having her help us develop some new equipment for the team. We’ve got some different things up our sleeve for 2020 and beyond, and Natalie is a perfect fit to both develop the opportunities and reap the benefits in the driver’s seat as well”
In total, Natalie has locked in 14 total races on her calendar in 2020, split between those two series. There are plans in the works for adding more as she progresses further into the year.
Decker remains focused and driven to continue the pursuit of her dream to race full time in the Cup Series, gaining traction of that one race at a time!
Natalie Decker will pilot the No. 44 Chevrolet Silverado for Niece Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (NGROTS) on a part-time basis during the 2020 season.
Decker will make her debut with Niece Motorsports in the first race of the 2020 season, at Daytona International Speedway.
“Change is inevitable, change is expected and exciting, and change is also frightening,” said Decker. “But this year is a year I’m ready for! I have never felt so prepared with my health, in the gym, and mentally. There are so many things to be excited about working with Niece Motorsports, starting with my teammates Ross and Ty. I’m ready to learn from them and be 100% open minded going into the season!”
Decker made 19 starts in the NGROTS last year for DGR Crosley. Decker joins Ty Majeski, Ross Chastain and Carson Hocevar, who will all race for Niece Motorsports in 2020.
“We are excited to have Natalie join the team,” said team owner Al Niece. “Natalie has shown a lot of talent, and we are excited to see her continue to develop that at Niece Motorsports. We are certain we will put her in competitive equipment that will really give her a chance to shine.”
Decker got her star racing go-karts in her native Wisconsin, where she won four track championships. From there, she made the move into full-sized stock cars. She was the CWSSA Super Stock champion out of a talented field of 35 drivers. Success continued in the Limited Late Model division, where she won one race and had two podium finishes.
Next, Decker moved into the competitive Late Model ranks, completing every lap of the World Series of Stock Car Racing at Florida’s New Smyrna Speedway in 2013. Her on-track success led her to being selected to the 2013 and 2014 NASCAR Rev Racing Drive for Diversity combine.
At State Park Speedway in Wisconsin, Decker had 10 fast times and seven feature races in 2014, leading her to the track championship. She was also the Rookie of the Year and finished fourth in overall points in the State Park Super Late Model division.
Decker also won in the Super Late Model division at Wisconsin’s Golden Sands Speedway and on the competitive TUNDRA Super Late Model series in the upper Midwest in 2014.
In 2015, Decker was selected by NASCAR to be a part of the NASCAR Drive for Diversity program, with proven race-winning team Rev Racing. She battled week-in-and-week-out against the top short track racers in the country at “The Birthplace of the NASCAR Stars,” Hickory Motor Speedway.
Decker turned heads at Hickory and beyond with the Rev Racing team and also saw plenty of success with her family-operated Super Late Model at tracks from Wisconsin to Florida, with wins at Golden Sands and State Park Speedways.
Decker became the first female racer to score a podium finish in the ARCA Midwest Tour. Her success in the state of Florida through the season also earned Decker the prestigious title of NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Rookie of the Year in the Sunshine State.
In 2018, Decker earned the pole and finished fifth in the ARCA Racing Series at Daytona International Speedway. She finished seventh overall in the ARCA Racing Series point standings.
Niece Motorsports PR
Bill McAnally has announced a partnership with Bill Hilgemann to form McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, which will field an entry in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series on a full-time basis for the 2020 season.
Eighteen-year-old Derek Kraus, who won the 2019 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West championship with McAnally, will drive the team’s No. 19 Toyota Tundra.
In conjunction, the newly minted team also announced that it has formed an alliance with Hattori Racing Enterprises.
“I’m excited about this opportunity to partner with Bill Hilgemann and compete in the truck series on a full-time basis,” said McAnally, who fielded an entry in limited truck events this past year as part of his Bill McAnally Racing team.
“We have been working hard to put things in place to move Derek to the next level in NASCAR,” McAnally said. “It’s been great to be part of his development in the K&N Series these past three years. We look forward to moving ahead in advancing his career.
“This move is a big challenge and we are grateful for the opportunity to form an alliance with HRE,” McAnally said. “We’re excited to be working with a team that has their winning record in the series. Our relationship with such a strong Toyota program will be beneficial to us and we see it as a key to accelerating our program.”
Hilgemann – a businessman from Stratford, Wisconsin; where Kraus hails from – is also looking forward to an exciting season with the new team.
“We’re proud to announce the formation of this team,” Hilgemann said. “Bill McAnally has a great reputation in the industry and I’m pleased to put this program together with him.
“Derek is a talented young driver and we are excited to have him behind the wheel,” Hilgemann added.
Kraus made five starts in the truck series with BMR. He finished eighth at Phoenix Raceway in making his series debut in 2018 and notched another eighth-place finish at Dover International Speedway, in one of four starts he made in 2019.
“Moving up to the truck series will be a big learning experience for me,” Kraus said. “I am looking forward to continuing to work with Kevin Bellicourt and the team. It’s going be a fun year.”
Bellicourt served as the general manager at BMR this past season. In addition to that role, he will also be the crew chief on the truck team. With the new alliance, he will be working with the HRE team – led by general manager, Mike Greci, and crew chief, Scott Zipadelli.
HRE, which is owned by Shige Hattori, won the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series championship in 2018. In addition to the truck series, the team also fielded a car last year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East.
The relationship between McAnally and Greci stems from a long-term friendship that extends back to when Greci was offered a job by McAnally about 20 years ago.
“We’ve been friends ever since then and we’ve got a great respect for each other,” Greci said.
“To try to race the truck series from the West Coast is probably next to impossible,” he said. “We’re a Toyota TRD team and Bill is a Toyota TRD team. We’re happy that we’ve got our program running well. Our focus is to help Bill get his program going.
“We’ve always been a single team,” Greci said. “Now we have team help. I think it’s a good situation for everybody. It’s about getting together. I think there’s a benefit to both race teams in doing this. I think it will be a good season for everybody.”
This could also offer an opportunity for new crew members, he indicated.
“With this alliance between HRE and MHR, we will be looking for qualified, driven and caring employees who want to win,” Greci said.
In addition to McAnally’s role with the truck team, he will continue as president of BMR – based in Roseville, California. The team, which has won a record nine championships in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, will continue to compete in that series – which is evolving into NASCAR’s ARCA Menards Series West.
McAnally was previously involved in the truck series nearly 20 years ago when he was partnered with Michael Gaughan at Orleans Racing to field an entry for Brendan Gaughan, who had won back-to-back K&N West championships in 2000 and 2001.
GMS Racing announced today that World of Outlaws driver David Gravel will run six select NASCAR Gander RV and Outdoors Truck Series races for the Statesville based organization. Gravel will sport Axalta colors on his No. 24 Chevrolet at Eldora Speedway and also compete in five yet to be announced Gander Trucks events in 2020. Sponsorship has been secured for those five additional events and will be announced at a later date. The Watertown, Conn., native will also compete in the ARCA Menards Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway under GMS Racing’s alliance team, KBR Development.
“Excited for this opportunity to run in NASCAR is an understatement,” said Gravel. “I can’t thank Jeff (Gordon) and Mike (Beam, president of GMS Racing) enough for believing in me and putting me in this position to race Eldora and some select asphalt races. It’s going to be a challenge, but I am ready for it.”
The 27-year-old has 51 career World of Outlaw feature wins to his name and was the 2019 Knoxville National Champion. Gravel was the first driver since 1992 to collect a perfect 500 score at the Knoxville Nationals. He is also a two-time Williams Grove National Open winner, a two-time Don Martin Memorial Silver Cup winner and he locked himself into the 2019 Lucas Oil Chili Bowl Nationals A-Main in addition to numerous other accomplishments.
“I’ve been following David’s career for a while and have tremendous respect for his talent behind the wheel,” said four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion and NASCAR on Fox analyst Gordon. “I had a chance to meet David at the Chili Bowl in 2019 which led to the Axalta Coatings sponsorship opportunity at the Knoxville Nationals in a sprint car.”
“Once I saw his performance at that race I knew he deserved a chance to pursue his dream of racing in NASCAR. It has been fun to see that come to fruition with GMS, who is leading the way in bringing new talent into the Truck Series and NASCAR.”
Over a five-year span, GMS Racing, a powerhouse Gander Truck Series team, has accumulated 27 wins, 103 top-fives, 204 top-10’s, 13 pole awards and one Championship in 2016. Over those five years many notable drivers have piloted their Chevrolets including Chase Elliott, Kyle Larson, Austin and Ty Dillon and others.
“We have been blessed here at GMS Racing to be able to put talented drivers like David (Gravel) in our Chevrolets,” said Mike Beam (president of GMS Racing). “When Jeff (Gordon) reached out and proposed the opportunity to put Gravel in our truck, it was truly an honor. Gravel has made his name on dirt tracks around the country and we hope we can be a small footprint in building his career in NASCAR.”
GMS Racing PR
Carson Hocevar will compete in nine races for Niece Motorsports in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series (NGROTS) in 2020.
“I’m really looking forward to this opportunity,” said Hocevar. “Niece Motorsports has invested a lot in their program in the last few years, and the results are really showing. I’m excited to be able to work with and learn from drivers like Ty Majeski and Ross Chastain. I’m thrilled to get in race-winning equipment and hopefully learn a lot and compete at a high level.”
Hocevar ran two NGROTS races in 2019, at Eldora Speedway and ISM Raceway. He qualified inside the top-20 and finished in the top-25 in both events.
In addition to the pair of NGROTS starts in 2019, Hocevar competed in 12 ARCA Racing Series events, earning one pole – never starting lower than 12th – along with four top-five and 10 top-10 finishes.
In 2018, Hocevar made three ARCA Racing Series starts, earning one pole and two top-five finishes.
“Carson has proven to be a very talented young racer, and we are looking forward to him continuing that with our team,” said team owner Al Niece. “We are excited to prove that last season wasn’t a fluke and are looking to run strong again in 2020.”
Niece Motorsports is coming off a strong junior season in 2019. Together Ross Chastain and Niece Motorsports earned one pole, three wins and 10 top-five finishes. In addition, Chastain captured the most stage wins and led the most laps. Chastain and the No. 45 team finished second in both the driver and owner point standings.
Hocevar began racing Quarter Midgets when he was just six years old. He won 15 United States Auto Club championships and 79 Quarter Midget National races.
Under the guidance of 2008 NGROTS champion Johnny Benson, Jr., Hocevar graduated to full-sized stock cars in 2015, and immediately made an impact by winning an Outlaw Late Model feature at Berlin Raceway in Marne, Michigan as a 12-year-old.
Later that summer, he earned his first Super Late Model victory at Berlin at the age of 13, becoming the youngest winner in both Late Model divisions with his victories that season.
In 2016, Hocevar had a breakout season, winning the Berlin track championship as a 14-year-old — the youngest in NASCAR Whelen All-American Series history — and added three other victories on the regional JEGS/CRA All-Stars Pro Late Model Tour.
The remainder of Niece Motorsports’ driver lineup is forthcoming.
Niece Motorsports PR
Officials from Diversified Motorsports Enterprises (DME) announced today that it has successfully completed the purchase of NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series (NGOTS) team JJL Motorsports.
With the acquisition complete, Diversified Motorsports Enterprises hopes to compete in their inaugural NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series race in the 2020 season-opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway on Fri., Feb. 14, 2020.
“This is a proud moment for Diversified Motorsports Enterprises,” said team principal Logan Puckett. “We appreciate Jason (Little) and everyone at JJL Motorsports for making the transition seamless and I’m excited about the outlook for our race team.”
The team will start 2020 in a new shop near Charlotte, N.C. and has plans to run a majority of the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season with mainstay driver Jesse Little.
“We have big plans for the season but we’re going to be thoughtful and attentive to our approach with everything we do,” added Puckett. “Being a young owner in the Truck Series, I’m eager to be competitive out of the box while also being ambitious with our marketing with the intention to bring new business to business partners into NASCAR and build our team towards a full schedule in 2021 and beyond.”
Puckett also says the organization will make a series of announcements in January. “Even with the Holidays quickly approaching, it’s a busy time for Diversified Motorsports Enterprises,” he added. “I’m thrilled about some of the personnel we’ve acquired and making the announcement of our marketing partner for our debut race.”
Throughout the season, Diversified Utility Group Inc. will serve as a major associate partner in 2020.
Founded in July 2013, Diversified Utility Group is a turn key general contractor specializing in fiber optic telecommunications construction consisting of new build, maintenance, cellular towers for wireless providers, residential and commercial applications and more.
Be sure to visit team-dme.com for the latest on the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series’ newest team.
Follow the team on Twitter @TeamDME97 and get to know team owner Logan Puckett by following him on Twitter @LPuckett_89.
For more on Jesse Little, please like him on Facebook at Jesse Little Racing.
Little tweets too. Follow him @JesseLittle97.
GMS Racing announced today their crew-chief and number line-up for their four full-time NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series entries for the 2020 season. Chad Norris has been named crew chief for Brett Moffitt and the No. 23 Chevrolet team, Chad Walter will lead Tyler Ankrum and the No. 26 team, Kevin “Bono” Manion will call the shots for Zane Smith who will drive the No. 21 entry, and Jeff Stankiewicz will remain as the crew chief for the No. 2 team piloted by Sheldon Creed.
Norris has been with the Statesville, N.C. based organization for two years. He led GMS Racing to their first NASCAR Xfinity Series win with Spencer Gallagher at Talladega Superspeedway in 2018. The Iowa native has experience in all three NASCAR Series and has called the shots for many successful drivers like Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin. Most of his experience came in the Xfinity Series where has called the shots for 23 different drivers and has accumulated four wins, 39 top-fives, 132 top-10s and five poles.
Walter, who served as an engineer for Ankrum last year, will step up to lead the team. Walter is no stranger to the crew chief role, he has served as a crew chief in seven Cup Series and 208 Xfinity Series events since 2005 for Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and many others. In 208 Xfinity Series starts he claimed five wins, 42 top-fives, 101 top-10’s and eight poles.
Manion has called the shots atop the pit box for many notable top-name NASCAR drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Busch and many others. Over all three NASCAR Series, Manion has accumulated five Cup Series wins, 27 top-fives, 65 top-10’s, and 10 poles, 15 Xfinity Series wins, 36 top-fives, 53 top-10’s, and nine poles, two Xfinity Championships with Martin Truex Jr. in 2004 and 2005 and four Gander Trucks wins, 16 top-fives, 28 top-10’s and one pole.
Stankiewicz will remain as crew chief for Sheldon Creed after the team hired him on partway through the 2019 season. The duo accumulated seven starts, two top-fives, four top-10s, and led 36 laps. In 2018, Creed won four races and earned 11 top-five, 12 top-10 finishes and three poles with Stankiewicz atop the pit box en route to the 2018 ARCA championship. Stankiewicz was previously with GMS Racing from 2015 – 2017 and led the team to an ARCA Championship in 2015 with Grant Enfinger.
“All four of our teams have veteran crew chiefs to lead the way and I don’t think we could get a better group,” said Mike Beam, President of GMS Racing. “All of them have the knowledge and experience to lead each of their teams to success this year and I am excited to see what they can do.”
GMS Racing PR