As the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series celebrates its 600th race with Friday night’s Strat 200 (9 p.m. ET on FS1/FOX Sports App, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio), there has been only one individual who has worked every single one of them.
Chris Showalter, truck chief on the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, has been wrenching on trucks since the series’ inaugural race on Feb. 5, 1995 at Phoenix Raceway.
“It’s hard to believe it’s already been 26 years,” Showalter told NASCAR.com Friday afternoon in the Gander Trucks garage. “There’s been days where I’ve thought that I’ve had enough, but then the family atmosphere that we have here, especially truck racing, is what has brought me back all the time.”
Showalter’s focus was more on tires in the first two years of his Truck Series career, starting off his career with the Ohio-based Liberty Racing and driver Butch Miller in 1995. Showalter quickly moved up the ranks to serve as a truck chief, moving to ThorSport Racing for a year before making the move to North Carolina to work for Joe Gibbs Racing and drivers J.D. and Coy Gibbs.
Showalter was also the truck chief for Travis Kvapil’s 2003 championship-winning season.
Although some might get annoyed with Kyle Busch’s winning ways, it has been the opposite for Showalter and at the top of his list of best moments throughout his storied career. Busch is the driver of the No. 51 truck this weekend.
“Winning with Kyle is fun,” Showalter said. “Yeah it’s Kyle … we all know how demanding he is, that little bit of extra pressure that you have … you know he’s going to do it, so you don’t mess up.”
The talent Showalter has been able to work with through the years is another meaningful highlight, witnessing a number of drivers move up to become stars in the NASCAR Cup and Xfinity Series.
“I’m happy to say there’s probably five or six guys over there that win a lot of races that I worked for,” Showalter said. “That’s a sense of pride for me, for sure.”
Showalter has enjoyed every second of his tenure, and although he doesn’t think he has another 600 races in him, he’s not looking to change the life he has become accustomed to the past 599 Gander Trucks events.
“I’m not sure that I will be able to walk away anytime soon,” Showalter said, “because I know in my heart that I’m going to miss it.”
— NASCAR —