David Gilliland Racing rebrands and to serve as Toyota’s flagship team in the Truck Series, why this makes the most sense and what this now does to Ford

David Gilliland Racing has stepped into a larger role into the sport as it was announced on Thursday that the organization will shift from Ford to Toyota power for the 2023 season. Essentially, DGR replaces the departing Kyle Busch Motorsports for next season’s NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series and as a result, changes the name to TRICON.

“Toyota is pleased to rejoin TRICON with this expanded partnership,” said David Wilson, president, TRD. “We are excited for this new opportunity for our Toyota development drivers and partners to experience TRICON’s success and winning culture. The Truck Series is very important to Toyota, and we know TRICON is going to continue to deliver for us as we begin our 20th season in the series.” 

“We are thrilled to return to Toyota and compete in the new Toyota Tundra TRD Pro next season,” said TRICON Partner David Gilliland. “I’ve seen Toyota’s dedication to the sport firsthand, and we are excited to partner with them going forward. I’m sure this new partnership is going to help TRICON reach our goals of consistently competing for race wins and championships.” 

TRICON’s name change is based on the word’s tri and icon, encompassing the partners in the organization and their plans to compete and win three titles – the driver, owner and manufacturer championships. The team is also involved in three different industries – racing, fabrication and transportation. 

“Our goal in the truck series is to create future racing icons,” said TRICON Partner Johnny Gray.  “We’ll know we did our job when several years from now our drivers are racing for Cup championships. As for Garage, what we do is more than just field a race team. We build chassis, we build bodies. We have a transportation company. We are marketers and content creators. We are teachers and mentors. It’s bigger than simply ‘motorsports’ or ‘racing.’ But what it all has in common is that it takes place in our garage. So, TRICON Garage just seemed to encompass what we’re all about.”

Toyota development driver and leading 2022 Truck Series Rookie of the Year candidate Corey Heim will run for his first Truck Series championship aboard the No. 11 Toyota Tundra. Heim has run just 15 races so far this season but has been impressive throughout, as he scored a hometown win at Atlanta Motor Speedway, before adding a second victory at Gateway in June. 

Tanner Gray will continue to compete in the No. 15 as he runs his fourth full-time season for the team in 2023. The youngest champion in NHRA Pro Stock history is looking for his first career Truck Series win but began the season with back-to-back top-five finishes and is on-track for his second top-15 final points finish in three full-time seasons. 

Taylor Gray will begin his championship run in the Truck Series starting at Circuit of the Americas in March aboard the No. 17 Toyota Tundra. The 17-year-old will miss the first three races of the season due to NASCAR’s age restriction policy. Taylor has made 12 career Truck starts with a best finish of sixth in Richmond in August. He has competed throughout the ARCA ranks this season and has scored multiple victories on the national, East and West tours. 

The fourth truck, the No. 1 Tundra, will feature several drivers throughout the season on a part-time schedule.

TRICON, then known as DGR-Crosley, previously fielded Toyotas from 2018-2019. Tyler Ankrum delivered the first championship for the team in 2018 as he drove to the ARCA Menards Series East championship before joining the Truck Series program in 2019. It was another successful year for the team as it earned its first ever Truck Series victory at Kentucky Speedway.

TRD official partners JBL, Mobil 1, Safelite AutoGlass and SiriusXM will join TRICON Garage and their existing partners to sponsor various Tundras throughout the season. Toyota and TRD, who clinched its 13th Truck Series manufacturer title at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Saturday, will also continue to provide manufacturer support to Halmar Friesen Racing, Hattori Racing Enterprises and ThorSport Racing in the NASCAR Truck Series. 

The No. 1 truck drivers, full partner and crew chief line-up, complete ARCA Menards Series season plans along with the driver who will fill in for Taylor Gray at Daytona, Atlanta and Las Vegas will be announced at a later date. 

It makes the most sense. DGR is set up to align the other feeder series to their Truck operation. They also field cars in the ARCA Menards Series as well as cars in both of their separate divisions of the East and West categories.

It now gives Toyota that flexibility to utilize this route from taking drivers from Late Models or USAC to place them in ARCA with DGR and allow them a path up from ARCA to the Truck Series with one organization.

Right now, they do so with Venturini, which can house drivers too, but DGR is a one stop shop. Plus, they started off with Toyota power out of the gates and utilized this relationship in 2018 and 2019 before shifting over to Ford power for 2020 on.

Now, they move back to the Toyota family.

Some may wonder why them and not ThorSport, but as I stated above, DGR goes down to the grassroots to where ThorSport just focuses on the Truck Series.

Does this also create a potential for Front Row Motorsports to turn to Toyota in the future? We know Toyota wants to expand some on the Cup level and David Gilliland is a former Front Row Motorsports driver as well as has his son driving for them now. Where this gets interesting is, Ford also could use FRM as well and could in turn utilize more focus their way because they need a flagship Truck team.

They’ve lost DGR and Hailie Deegan and likely the Gray’s too.

FRM has1 other full-time truck with Zane Smith and can now maybe throw so more resources FRM’s way to ensure they have a path from Trucks to Cup because if they don’t, they really are strung at the bottom level without much from ARCA to Trucks to Xfinity.

It’s really just the Cup level and RSS Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing and SS-Green Light Racing in Xfinity. With just 1 seat in Trucks, that’s not enough. They can use the 2 bodies given up now by DGR and give them to FRM and even try to help FRM in an Xfinity role too since Smith is going to be doing select races in that series in 2023 as well. You can have a place for the Gray brothers and Deegan in this direction.

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