With DraftKings fully embracing NASCAR DFS these days, the site now offers contests for all Cup Series, XFINITY Series and Gander Outdoors Truck Series races. Even most casual fans are fairly familiar with the drivers at the Cup level, and most of the top drivers at the XFINITY level have a degree of mainstream notoriety.
The same cannot be said for a majority of the Truck Series regulars. Lowest on the totem pole among NASCAR’s national series, the Truck Series is filled with an interesting combination of veterans who never caught on in the Cup Series and young drivers who are just cutting their teeth in the big leagues. There is also a huge disparity in the quality of equipment from top to bottom, and there is more turnover from one season to the next than at the Cup or XFINITY level.
Needless to say, it can be difficult to know which drivers and teams to rely on when building your NASCAR DFS lineups at DraftKings for Truck Series events, especially after you get past the handful of top drivers and cars. Whether you are a seasoned fan or new to NASCAR and NASCAR DFS, it never hurts to get up to speed who is behind the wheel of what ride and who you need to pay attention to when constructing your lineups at DraftKings.
Before the 2020 Gander Outdoors Truck Series season officially goes green, check out a closer look at the series regulars that should you make some money over the course of the year.
Other Series Regulars to Know
Matt Crafton: No. 88 Thorsport Racing Ford
Crafton won the series crown in 2019 despite not winning a race, but his 18 Top 10s were the second most in the series, and his 8.8 average finish ranked fourth. Outside of a dominant 2015 campaign, Crafton has never been a driver who wins a bunch of races and leads ton of laps. That being said, his consistency has netted him three championships, and it also gives him one of the safest floors. Whenever he has a little place differential upside, Crafton should make a great addition to cash lineups in 2020.
Ben Rhodes: No. 99 Thorsport Racing Ford
He had a solid 2019 campaign, tying a career high with 13 Top 10s. On the flip side, he failed to win a race and led under 200 laps for the first time since his rookie year. Rhodes has essentially been the same driver in each of the past three seasons, running around the Top 10 almost every week and delivering an occasional Top 5. However, he has been unable to take the next step, and I don’t see that changing in 2020. With a limited ceiling, Rhodes will mainly be a qualifying-dependent, cash play at DraftKings.
Johnny Sauter: No. 13 Thorsport Racing Ford
Sauter is coming off arguably the worst season of his career in the Truck Series, but prior to 2019, he had three straight seasons with at least three wins and at least a dozen Top 5s. Yes, he is probably experiencing some decline in his skills, but bad luck played a role in his lackluster numbers. I don’t think he will be one of the dominant drivers in 2020, but I do think he will have several races where he provides dominator points and contends for wins. Texas, Martinsville and Dover are among his best tracks.
Todd Gilliland: No. 38 Front Row Motorsports Ford
It was a rollercoaster 2019 season for Gilliland. He finally won his first Truck race, but after missing the playoffs and an infamous outburst over his in-car radio in response to criticism from team owner Kyle Busch, he found himself looking for work. Fortunately, he landed with Front Row Motorsports’ newly-formed Truck team, and while his equipment might not be as strong, a change of scenery and little less pressure could allow Gilliland to unleash the aggression that saw him win back-to-back K&N West Series titles. He’s going to have some strong showings and be a key part of some winning GPP lineups.
Austin Hill: No. 16 Hattori Motorsports Toyota
After a couple of pedestrian seasons in the Truck Series, Hill moved to Hattori Racing for the 2019 campaign and enjoyed a career year. He finished fifth in the final standings, winning four times and shattering his production across the board. Yes, he was a little boom-or-bust, but his dominator upside, especially at the 1.5-mile ovals, is going to help you win a lot of money at DraftKings over the course of the year.
Zane Smith: No. 21 GMS Racing Chevrolet
Smith was the runner-up for the 2018 ARCA championship, but his performance for JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series last year really has my attention. He finished in the Top 10 in seven of his 10 starts, posting a 10.3 average finish. Granted, Smith only has one Truck start to his name, but it resulted in a Top 5 finish. Heading into 2020 with a full-time ride with one of the stronger teams, I think Smith could quickly establish himself as a Top 5 threat.
Christian Eckes: No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
The 2019 ARCA champ heads into his first full-time Truck campaign with one of the highest ceilings of any newcomer. The Kyle Busch Motorsports driver has seven Top 10s in 12 career Truck starts, and despite limited seat time, he has already shown rapid growth. Eckes finished sixth or better in four of his final six starts last year, leading laps in each of his final three starts and finishing third in two of those races. He offers immediate Top 5 upside with some dominator potential.
Tyler Ankrum: No. 26 GMS Racing Chevrolet
The 2018 K&N East Series champ was the surprise of the Truck Series in 2019, winning a race and making the playoffs despite missing three races because of his age and bouncing between multiple teams. This year, Ankrum has a steady ride with one of the better organizations in the series. He’s still young, but driving for GMS should only raise his ceiling. A career-high in Top 5s and Top 10s seems inevitable, Ankrum could be a sneaky source of dominator points at times this year.
Raphael Lessard: No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota
Lessard got his feet wet in the Truck Series last year, notching a pair of Top 10s and posting an 11.2 average finish in five starts. He landed a full-time ride with KBM for 2020, and behind the wheel of arguably the best equipment in the series, he should at least repeat his results form last year and flirt with Top 10s on a regular basis. Lessard’s ceiling is even higher.
Derek Kraus: No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Toyota
He has two Top 10s in five Truck starts spread out across the past two seasons, and in 2020, Kraus is set for a full-time effort with some support from Hattori Racing. Kraus is the defending K&N West champ, and he has piled up wins and Top 5s in the K&N West and East Series over the past two years. The partnership with Hattori combined with steady seat time should only speed up his development. Look for Kraus to become a weekly Top 10 threat sooner rather than later.
Ty Majeski: No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet
Although a 12-race stint in the XFINITY Series in 2018 was marred by horrible luck, Majeski has resurrected his NASCAR career with a full-time Truck ride with Niece. He managed an 11th-place finish in a one-off start for the team last year, his lone Truck start to date. Ross Chastain was a championship finalist for this team last year, and I think Majeski could become a legitimate Top 10 threat once he gets some starts under his belt.