Dean Thompson to join TRICON Garage for 2023 Truck Series season, details

TRICON Garage (TRICON) announced today that Dean Thompson will pilot the No. 5 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) in 2023. The 21-year-old will compete full-time, beginning with the series’ opening contest at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.

“I am thrilled to start the next chapter of my career with TRICON Garage and Toyota Racing Development,” said Thompson. “The team and manufacturer have quickly made a statement in the Truck Series as striving to be the best of the best. I’m ready to take on the challenge and live up to the expectations of being a driver for TRICON.”

Thompson completed his rookie NCTS season in 2022, sporting a best finish of 11th at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The Anaheim, California native is an accomplished late model racer, having had his breakout season in 2020, claiming the Irwindale Speedway Late Model Championship with six wins and 14 top-five finishes.

In 2021, he repeated as Irwindale Speedway Late Model Champion while making a handful of ARCA Menards Series West appearances. Thompson would capture two poles, a top-five and two top-10s alongside an eighth-place run at Kansas Speedway in the flagship ARCA national series.

“We’re really excited to welcome Dean into the TRICON program for 2023,” said Partner David Gilliland. “Our goal is to develop future stars of the sport, and he has all the intangibles of a driver with a long NASCAR career ahead of him. He shares our commitment to growing this team into a premier Truck Series organization, and we can’t wait to hit the track with him at Daytona.”

The No. 5 team will feature support from Thompson Pipe Group, a leading water and waste piping manufacturer across the United States and Canada. Thompson will make his debut for TRICON as the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series kicks its season off on February 17, 2023, at Daytona International Speedway.

He joins Toyota development driver and leading 2022 Truck Series Rookie of the Year candidate Corey Heim and Tanner Gray as the full-time drivers for this organization.

Heim, will run for his first Truck Series championship aboard the No. 11 Toyota Tundra. He is coming off of a stellar part-time effort in 2022 with Kyle Busch Motorsports.

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 coming off of a second top-15 final points finish in three full-time seasons. 

His younger brother, 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 fifth 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. 

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.

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. 

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