NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series
Honeycutt Partners With Race Face Digital for NASCAR Trucks Finale
Oct 27, 2022
David Gilliland Racing is now the TRICON Garage.
Or at least, it will be after next weekend, as part of its new affiliation with Toyota Racing Development for the 2023 season in the NASCAR Truck Series with drivers Corey Heim, Tanner Gray and Taylor Gray.
What is TRICON, you might be wondering? The theme of threes are very prevalent in this new venture, with the name essentially merging Tri and Icon.
David Gilliland, Johnny Gray and Toyota Racing Development
Racing, Fabrication and Transportation
Driver Championship, Owner Championship and Manufacturer Championship
With Kyle Busch joining Richard Childress Racing next season, and Kyle Busch Motorsports becoming Chevrolet affiliated program as a result, Toyota moved to bolster its driver development presence when it became apparent that the two-time Cup Series champion would race elsewhere.
Tyler Gibbs, the senior vice president and general manager at TRD acknowledged the manufacturer had no shortage of existing partnerships but wanted to effectively replace KBM with something similar in their backyard in the greater Charlotte area.
"As we looked around, we had a variety of different options available to us, and ThorSport was one of them and have the same capabilities but they are in Sandusky," Gibbs said. "That's a little more difficult from the standpoint of the driver development kids, although, Christian (Eckes) is racing for them.
"So, it came to the question of, 'do we want to throw our eggs into one basket' and that's not really the Toyota way in how we deal with our dealers. We want to have a broad foot print so this became a very easy decision once we learned more about David and Johnny's commitment and where they were going with the team."
Gilliland previously operated under the Toyota banner, so this is a reunion of sorts, but he and his partner saw an opportunity to find another figurative gear under the current landscape. And Gilliland wants his operation to become more than just a race team.
The veteran Cup Series race turned team owner acknowledged the implied similarities to the Trackhouse model.
"The sky is the limit," Gilliland said. "We’ve always raced in various series and done a lot of different things within our organization. We want people to know we’re more than juts a race team. TRICON, I’m excited about this, and our potential to develop our own future racing icons.
"Johnny and I, our goal, and we came up with a lot of different names and logos, but our goal is to win on Friday and Saturday nights and see the kids we helped development win on Sunday. That’s where my passion has transitioned because we’ve been a driver development team from Day One.
"Trackhouse has done a great job with their branding and creating that brand, and that’s what I want to do. I want people at the track wearing this logo and wearing it proud. Your name is different. It was a good time to rebrand with Toyota and TRD coming on board."
Toyota, in addition to its driver development program and simulator, immediately provides the team Corey Heim -- one of the most accomplished prospects in the Stock Car pipeline. Heim will pair with Tanner and Taylor, Gray’s grandson, who are Truck Series and ARCA veterans in their own rights.
Taylor won’t turn 18 until March and will miss three speedway races but will be championship eligible alongside Heim and his older brother. The substitute driver for those races will be named at a later date.
Heim has spent much of this autumn racing for the Truck Series owner’s championship but will race for his first drivers championship next year. It’s just the latest step in his own five-year journey with Toyota.
"This will be my first time full-time season but I've made so many starts that it feels like I've been full-time," Heim said. "To be part of this movement with TRICON and TRD, is special."
Tanner Gray, the 2018 NHRA Pro Stock champion, is in his third full-time season since making the transition to Stock Cars following his championship. He says 2023, given all the resources and data made available to him will be an important season.
It’s time to win.
"They provide so many tools and resources and I’m excited to race under their banner again," the elder Gray said. "When I was there before, their tools were very, very good but the full program wasn’t made available to Late Model drivers so I’m looking forward to diving in. I know they’ve made improvements, there’s the Toyota Performance Center to workout and study film. They have a full-time nutrionist and everything we need to be successful."
It’s the same for his younger brother.
"I have a couple buddies in that system and it’s incredible what TRD does for the drivers and it shows on track," Taylor said. "You can always count on a TRD truck to be dominant with a development driver in it. It’s super exciting and I’m super excited to have all those resources available to me, because that wasn’t the case when I was racing Late Models, so to get my hands on all those tools and new resources is pretty exciting."
The team will also have a fourth truck, the No. 1, for a variety of drivers. Gilliland says you can’t entirely rule him out because he’s not completely done as a driver either.
"I’d like to, so you never know," Gilliland said. "We’ll see with their fourth truck. I feel like we’ll have drivers capable of running for an owner’s championship. I’m not ready to be done racing and really enjoyed the truck races when I’ve had the opportunity.
"It’s a good opportunity to validate what we’re doing and what we’re building. I used to do a lot of testing and that’s gone away, can’t do a lot of that now so I’d like to race here there if it makes sense."