McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Sets 2023 NASCAR Lineup

McAnally Hilgemann Racing

Getty McAnally Hilgemann Racing has set its driver lineup for 2023.

McAnally-Hilgemann Racing has made significant moves for the 2023 Craftsman Truck Series season. The team has signed two new full-time drivers while signing a multi-year extension with NAPA Auto Parts.

The Truck Series team met with media members at the Chevrolet Performance Technical Center in Concord, N.C., and confirmed that there will be two full-time entries during the 2023 season. Christian Eckes will move over to MHR after leaving ThorSport Racing, and he will replace Derek Kraus in the No. 19 NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet.

Garcia, for comparison, will take on his first full-time season in the Truck Series. He made five starts for MHR during the 2022 season, but he will now drive the No. 35 Adaptive One Chevrolet Silverado.

Garcia will pursue Rookie of the Year honors, but he will have to start his season late. He will only be 17 in February, so he will miss the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway. MHR continues to examine replacement options for the superspeedway.

Garcia will make his season debut on March 3. He will turn 18 on the morning of the race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, so he will make his scheduled start while kicking off his year.

“I’m ecstatic to get the season started,” said team owner Bill McAnally in a press release. “We have a lot to be optimistic about with bringing Christian into our program and Jake having his first full-time opportunity. We’ve enjoyed a tremendous relationship with NAPA and NAPA Auto Care and going into our 33rd year together is incredibly special. I’m excited about Christian’s experience and the potential Jake has to elevate our program and our partners.”

Eckes Made the 2022 Truck Series Playoffs

Derek Kraus

GettyDerek Kraus races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Bringing Eckes into the fold adds some race-winning experience. The former ThorSport Racing driver has made 68 starts in the Truck Series with multiple teams while contending for wins.

Eckes made 35 starts for Kyle Busch Motorsports between 2018 and 2020, and he won the pole for three races. He didn’t reach Victory Lane, but he secured 18 top-10 finishes and 10 top-fives while also making the playoff field in 2020.

Eckes lost his seat with KBM after the 2020 season as the team brought in Chandler Smith, so he moved over to ThorSport Racing on a part-time schedule. Eckes made 10 starts in 2021 while sharing the No. 98 with Grant Enfinger, but he delivered a win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The 2022 season marked a return to full-time driving for Eckes. He took over the No. 98 Toyota Tundra TRD Pro while Enfinger moved over to GMS Racing. Eckes did not return to Victory Lane, but he reached the playoffs with consistent performances before finishing the season eighth in the championship standings.

MHR Has an Important Technical Alliance in Place

The announcement about the MHR lineup took place an hour after GMS Racing revealed that Rajah Caruth would round out the driver lineup. This was fitting considering that there is an important partnership in place.

MHR has Truck Series starts dating back to 2000, but the team has only been full-time since 2020 when Kraus made all 23 starts and posted 13 top-10 finishes. MHR remains in pursuit of that first win after its drivers have accounted for 30 top-10s and five top-fives.

GMS Racing is supportive of this mission. The championship-winning organization has a technical alliance with MHR, as well as multiple other teams, while helping with chassis construction and engine building.

This alliance has been in place since 2022. MHR announced after the 2021 season that it would move to the Chevrolet family while forming this alliance with GMS Racing. The team also confirmed that it would operate out of the GMS Racing shop while embarking upon this new era.

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