Photo: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

ThorSport Racing Solidifies 2017 Truck Series Lineup

By David Morgan, NASCAR Contributor

Heading into the 2017 season for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, Thorsport Racing will be featuring a revamped driver lineup that will include some familiar faces in the team’s Toyota Tundras and some new ones to the team as well.

Two-time Truck Series champion Matt Crafton and second year driver Ben Rhodes will make their return to the Sandusky, Ohio based team in 2017 to pilot the No. 88 and No. 27 trucks, respectively.

Crafton scored two wins, eight top-five finishes, 16 top-10 finishes, one pole, 446 laps led, and an average finish of 10.9 throughout the 23 race schedule to bring home a runner-up finish in the points in 2016, which gave him a top-10 points finish in 12 of the last 13 seasons.

Rhodes, who drove the No. 41 truck last season in his rookie campaign for the team, brought home two top-five finishes, five top-10 finishes, two poles, 55 laps led, and an average finish of 15.9 en route to a 14th place finish in the points.

Alpha Energy Solutions will be back on the side of Rhodes’ truck for two races in 2017, with additional sponsorship to be announced at a later date. The Kentucky native will also have a new crew chief in 2017 as Eddie Troconis, who served as crew chief for Cameron Hayley in 2016, will move over to lead the No. 27 team.

“This is an amazing opportunity to be partnered with Toyota and ThorSport Racing again for the 2017 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season,” said Ben Rhodes, driver of the No. 27 Toyota Tundra. “The 2016 season had a lot of ups and downs, but we have put all that in the rearview mirror, and we’re focused on the year ahead. We have a new team, a new number, and great support from Toyota. With the NASCAR changes to the race and point structure, the No. 27 team will be up front contending for segment wins and race victories to get us into the playoffs and contend for the championship.”

Joining Crafton and Rhodes in the ThorSport stable for the upcoming season will be two drivers that will not only be moving to ThorSport from other teams in the series, but will also be gearing up for their first full-time seasons in the Trucks.

The first of the two new drivers will be Grant Enfinger, who drove part-time for GMS Racing in 2016 and scored his first career NASCAR win by taking home the trophy at Talladega in October. In his eight starts last season, Enfinger captured his Talladega win, two top-five finishes, five top-10 finishes, one pole, 49 laps led, and an average finish of 10.6.

For the 2017 season, Enfinger will be driving the No. 98 Toyota with sponsorship from Champion Power Equipment, Ride Television Network, Jive Communications, and Curb Records. Enfinger’s team will be led by crew chief Jimmy Hensley, who enters his 14th season as a Truck Series crew chief.

“I’m extremely grateful to ThorSport Racing and Toyota for the opportunity to drive full time in the NASCAR Camping World truck series,” said Grant Enfinger. “This is a dream come true, and I’m blessed to be able to share this season with some great people. I’m proud to be continuing the partnership with Champion Power Equipment, along with starting new ones with Jive Communications, RIDE TV, and Curb Records. I’m very impressed with the people, equipment, and facility that Duke and Rhonda Thorson have assembled, and I can’t wait to get to Daytona in a few weeks.”

Rounding out the ThorSport lineup for 2017 will be Cody Coughlin, who moves to ThorSport after a nine race part-time campaign for Kyle Busch Motorsports and one race in relief of John Wes Townley last season. In his 10 starts, Coughlin scored five top-20 finishes, with his season best finish of 12th coming at Texas last spring.

For 2017, Coughlin will be behind the wheel of the No. 13 truck, which will be sponsored by JEGS Automotive and Ride Television Network and will have crew chief Michael Shelton at the helm. Shelton moves over to ThorSport after serving as crew chief for Townley last season.

“ThorSport Racing is a great team, one I’ve always admired at the race track,” said Coughlin. “Their professionalism, the speed they display, and their record, speaks for itself. Considering the team and I are both based in Ohio, it makes for a great fit, and I’m proud to be part of this championship-caliber organization.

“Matt Crafton and I became good friends last year,” Coughlin continued. “His insight and help with driving these Toyota Tundra’s at all of the different tracks has been a valuable asset, and to be his teammate this year, takes it to the next level.”

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David Morgan is the Associate Editor for Motorsports Tribune. A 2008 graduate from the University of Mississippi, David has followed NASCAR since the early 90’s and became hooked at an early age after attending his first race at Talladega Superspeedway in 1993. He has traveled across the country since 2012 to cover some of the most prestigious events both IndyCar and NASCAR have to offer, with an aim to only expand on that in the near future.

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