Pending sanctioning body approval, Tyler Carpenter has turned his dirt track success into a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series opportunity. By winning Saturday’s Gateway Dirt Nationals Super Late Model race, he will get the chance to drive a truck for Niece Motorsports at Knoxville Raceway on 18 June 2022.
Days before the Nationals, held at The Dome at America’s Center in St. Louis, Niece announced the “Win and You’re In” programme in partnership with the event. The premise laid out was simple: win the Late Model race and one could race a NASCAR Truck. Knoxville is one of two dirt tracks on the series schedule along with Bristol Motor Speedway.
Carpenter, who won the most recent edition in 2019, backed it up by scoring the Thursday preliminary victory followed by the feature two nights later. After the preliminary win, he made waves with a very colourful interview in which he quipped his rivals were no different from “keyboard warriors” and “this race was for all you pussies. […] I’m going to earn my ass a Truck ride and you all are going to have to watch it.”
He was eventually fined, not for his comments but for standing on the roof of his Late Model wearing Hey Dude shoes.
“The Gateway Dirt Nationals Event Management & Staff would like to acknowledge & address an occurrence that took place yesterday evening, where a competitor (Tyler Carpenter, Super Late Model #28) did not have on proper SFI rated safety equipment (Footwear),” read a statement from event organisers that was released on Friday. “The situation has been addressed & this driver has been penalized accordingly with a Fine.
“We will continue to take safety seriously at this event & take pride in enforcing proper safety guidelines & encourage all of our competitors to obey all safety standards set in place by Event Management.”
This did not deter the West Virginia native as he went on to win on Saturday after holding off a late charge from Tanner English.
“It ain’t gonna sink in and I’ll tell you why: because I don’t think I’m supposed to be here. We’re just forcing it to happen,” said Carpenter in Victory Lane. “I love my family to death. I hate saying we’re freaking broke, I know you guys are tired of hearing it, but you just don’t even really know. I begged for help, I begged for just somebody to help me get better at big tracks.
“This is for my family, you know. I don’t care how you see me—trash, you know people take me out, rednecks, crackheads, I don’t even care. I’m here and you guys got to see it and I love the ones who love me.”
Niece is set to field three full-time trucks in 2022 for Lawless Alan, Carson Hocevar, and Dean Thompson. Although the promotion used Hocevar’s #42 truck, Carpenter’s ride will be in a fourth, likely multi-driver truck. Such trucks were fielded with the #45 and #44 in 2021, though the former was supposed to have a single driver in Brett Moffitt before he switched to Xfinity Series points. The #44 had reigning Cup champion Kyle Larson, who won the 2019 Gateway Dirt Nationals Midget class, and dirt late model racer Morgan Alexander at Bristol and Knoxville, respectively.