On the heels of their most successful NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season, GMS Racing has made the decision to take the next step in the team’s journey as they will enter a car full-time in the XFINITY Series in 2017. As previously announced, it will be Spencer Gallagher behind the wheel.
“I’m looking forward to getting started at Daytona. I think we’re going to surprise and do well,” Gallagher told POPULAR SPEED.
Gallagher believes now is the right time to make the jump up to NASCAR’s second-tier division after the success he had last year as a driver, and the successful campaign the team put together.
“Obviously, we’ve found the method for success, and we’re going to have three full-time trucks in the truck series next year, so that’s pretty full,” he said. “I’m looking forward to it. I’m ready to accept the next challenge of my career.”
This past season, Gallagher ran the full Truck Series schedule and finished 12th in points with eight top-10s, highlighted by a runner-up at Talladega Superspeedway.
“I think it was a good one,” he said. “We had some opportunities taken away from us, but in my heart, I know there were times we were there and we could win. I know the performance is there out of our team and I do think you have to look at a team’s performance more realistically, considering how all vehicles ran. On that end, we had a fantastic year.”
Gallagher made his XFINITY Series debut this past season, earning a best finish of eighth at Daytona International Speedway in July in seven starts. Gallagher’s debut into the XFINITY Series also marked the team’s first foray in NASCAR’s second-tier division.
While they had some success, they also had five finishes outside of the top-20. The team feels they will be able to continue to get stronger, as a result of receiving engineering support and motors from Hendrick Motorsports. Seeing what JR Motorsports was able to do in qualifying both Justin Allgaier and Elliott Sadler for the Chase last year, has given them an array of hope.
“We’re going to be benefiting from that next year,” Gallagher said. “That’s a huge, huge ace to have in your back pocket going into the year in a series like the XFINITY Series.”
Being able to run those seven races last year, though, showed Gallagher the differences between how the truck drives and how an XFINITY car drives. Though based on what’s been talked about, there are also changes being discussed for the division.
“Going over to Junior’s place, apparently NASCAR is taking more downforce off going into the year,” Gallagher said. “So it’ll be real interesting as anything you have a big aero change, it resets the playing field to people start finding advantages. I think these first few races are going to be interesting. It’s going to be high-speed stock car driving like nobody has ever done. I don’t think anybody has in a while – having cars going these speeds around these ovals with so little downforce.
“I’m all for it – don’t get me wrong, but it takes some re-calibration of your right foot. So I’m really looking forward to it. I have the advantage of not having any previous bad habits.
Going into the season, Gallagher is keeping his goals in check, noting anytime you start a new team there will be some hiccups and problems.
“I think the key will be getting it up and running, and getting up towards the front,” he said. “Our goal is to make the Chase in our first year as a race team. That’s definitely something that we have on the floor already. We want to be there in the Chase, so I think that’s a good goal to start.”
For Gallagher, the plan is to keep the same method and theory in which helped them become successful in the Camping World Truck Series.
While they struggled to finish in the top-15 at times as a team last year, this year they won six races (Johnny Sauter, Grant Enfinger, Ben Kennedy, Kyle Larson) with Sauter picking up the series championship. Being able to go from struggling to qualify for races, to being champions in the span of 36 months, is something Gallagher credits Mike Beam for.
“He’s done a lot for GMS Racing since he started,” Gallagher said. “When we got him the later part of 2014, we were running around the midpack of the truck field. From there, it’s been a dream watching that man work. The revolution and changes that have happened since that man came on have been amazing, and you saw that on the race track. We made statements at every type of tracks – dominated Talladega, we had two trucks that led and ran up front at Texas, and we ran well on the short tracks.
“It’s a jaw-dropping achievement to see what GMS has done in a short time in this world, and I can’t tell you how special it is for me to have been a part of it.”
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