It was announced earlier today that Richlands, North Carolina native and 2016 North Carolina state Late Model Champion, Tyler Matthews, will be making his Camping World Truck Series debut later this year in the No. 99 truck for MDM Motorsports at Martinsville Speedway. Matthews, who currently competes in the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock series, earned Rookie of the Year honors for North Carolina in 2015. He continued his rise through the stock car ranks the following year after winning both the Southern National Late Model track championship, he also finished third in points at his home track of East Carolina Motor Speedway – all while working on his degree from East Carolina University.
2017 would bring Matthews even more success as we would go on to win seven races and collect nineteen top fives, twenty top tens all in twenty starts en route to yet another track championship, this time at Carteret County Speedway, Matthews found himself, however, in a rather precarious position coming into 2018 after his Late Model was destroyed following a wreck at Carteret.
“That is kind of how this whole thing got started,” Matthews said in an interview with The Weekly Racer. “We took a step back to see where we wanted to go from there. I do plan on running some of the bigger Late Model races. This is a great opportunity with a really good team.” Matthews told The Weekly Racer once we caught up with him. “I owe everything to my parents and the people behind the scenes getting this deal together. They have believed in me since day one and now it is up to me to get it done.”
The three-race deal will kick off later this year at Martinsville Speedway here in Virginia. The following two races are set for Iowa and Gateway Motorsports Park where Matthews should get approval to run some of the bigger tracks on the Camping World Truck Series schedule.
“We are approved for 5/8 tracks,” Matthews went on to explain. “After Martinsville, we will get approved for Iowa and after Gateway, we should be approved to run the bigger mile and a half’s. Once we get approved for those we plan to run a few more races during the second half of the year. This team has had a lot of success with several different drivers. So I feel good about of chances to run well out of the gate.”
Matthews will certainly have his hands full making the jump from a stock car to a heavier, more powerful race truck, however, Matthews is keeping himself focused and setting smart goals for himself as he takes on this next step in his racing career. We also asked Tyler if there was any added pressure coming into a program that Monster Energy Cup Series driver Bubba Wallace took to victory lane towards the end of the 2017 season.
“You always want to win,” Matthews said. However, I would be really happy with some consistent top ten runs and keeping my nose clean. I want to learn as much as I can. I would say more confident because you know the team and the equipment is capable of winning but there is definitely some high expectations there.”
To learn more and keep up with Tyler Matthews in 2018, make sure to follow him on his facebook page https://www.facebook.com/tyler.matthews.731572.