Sunday, Jun 26

NCWTS: GMS Racing 2016 Review, 2017 Preview

For GMS Racing, 2016 was a move from being a darkhorse to a powerhouse as Johnny Sauter clinched the organizations first championship since its introduction into the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series in 2013.

The team consisted of three full time drivers in Sauter, Spencer Gallagher, and Ben Kennedy, who joined the team at Kansas after starting with Red Horse Racing at the beginning of the year. Kaz Grala, Kyle Larson, Shane Lee, Grant Enfinger, and Clint Bowyer all ran races on a part-time basis for the organization.

Bowyer raced for the organization at Kansas. He started 16th and finished in the fifth position.

Enfinger was with the organization for seven races beginning at Daytona, where he qualified on the pole position. Through the seven races, Grala scored five top-10 finishes, including a victory at Talladega Superspeedway.

Grala was with the organization for nine races beginning at Martinsville, where he was involved in a crash to finish in the 31st position. Grala had three top-10 finishes, but two more DNF’s at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park and Phoenix.

Larson raced at Martinsville, Eldora, and Homestead for GMS. He started and finished in the top-10 in each event, including a victory at Eldora.

Lee drove for the organization at Texas. He started 21st and finished 16th.

Gallagher started out the season with a  21st place finish at Daytona, but was consistent through the next five races, running in the top-10 each week. The next five weeks for Gallagher were not as strong as his first six races, which included a DNF at Gateway due to a crash. Up until Chicago, Gallagher had only two top-15 finishes. Gallagher scored his first pole of the season at Chicago. After Chicago, Gallagher rattled off four top-15’s in five races. In the final two races at Phoenix and Homestead, Gallagher finished outside of the top-20. He had three DNF’s on the season, one top-five, and eight top-10’s.

Kennedy joined the organization at Kansas where he started out with a ninth place finish. Kennedy stayed consistent in the top-20, but that streak ended at Kentucky with a 22nd place finish, but Kennedy rebounded. He stayed within the top-11 over the next five races, including a victory at Bristol. At Chicago, Kennedy was involved in a crash. With his victory at Bristol, Kennedy qualified for the inaugural playoffs. In the first round, Kennedy finished in the top-11 at all three races to advance to the second round. The second round was not all too kind for Kennedy. He had an 18th place finish at Martinsville, 13th place finish at Texas, and an ninth place finish at Phoenix, but that was not enough for him to advance to the championship round at Homestead. Kennedy closed out the season with a 14th place finish.

Sauter kicked off the year on the right foot with a victory with Daytona. However, the next three races were not the best for Sauter as he finished outside the top-15 in each event. However, Sauter found his mojo and went on a streak of top-15 finishes for the rest of the season. Sauter scored his first pole at Texas. After Kansas, Sauter’s worst finish was 13th at Eldora. When the playoffs began, Sauter rattled off two top-sevens and a top-10. In the second round, Sauter won at Martinsville and Texas to secure his place in the championship four at Homestead. Despite finishing third at Homestead, Sauter was in front of the other three contenders to win the championship for GMS.

2017 will be another powerhouse season for GMS Racing. Sauter returns to defend his title. Joining Sauter will be Grala and Justin Hayley. Gallagher will be moving to full-time NASCAR Xfinity Series competition for GMS, while Kennedy will run a part-time schedule for Richard Childress Racing. Kennedy is the only full-time driver not returning to GMS in 2017.

Caleb Whisler

I am 19 years old from Atlanta, GA. I have been following motorsports since I was born. Motorsports has been "passed down" in my family. I am named after NASCAR Hall of Famer, William Caleb Yarborough, also known as Cale. Growing up in the southeast, racing was something that was a Sunday tradition after church. What an honor it is to share that passion with others.

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