The stats don’t adequately portray the struggle, but Trey Hutchens III pulled off an incredible feat last weekend at Nashville Superspeedway.
With 42 drivers vying for 36 spots in the Rackley Roofing 200, Hutchens, 23, made the field in a truck last raced by Cole Custer in 2016. Just qualifying on time was a challenge in itself. Finishing 33rd was an accomplishment.
Yes, the struggle is real. On Saturday, Hutchens watched the Camping World Truck race from home. With no qualifying and a full field, the family-owned team based in Winston-Salem, N.C., will use the time to work on the truck and prepare for the next race—whenever that might be.
Racing is Hutchens’ passion. The second-generation racer and son of Bobby Hutchens, who enjoyed leadership roles as competition director for Richard Childress Racing, Stewart-Haas Racing, and JTG Daugherty Racing, currently serves as his own crew chief and president of Trey Hutchens Racing.
Trey is also a second-generation engineer. He followed his father’s path to N.C. State University in 2016 where he also studied mechanical engineering but minored in computer science. Despite his time behind the wheel over the last decade, growing up in the sport, Hutchens understood early the necessity to have a backup plan.
“I always wanted a Plan B,” Hutchens said. “Education has always been important to me. It’s something I would have done even if I didn’t race. I’m a racer. If I don’t make it here, I want to keep racing.”
The strategy has served him well. Although Hutchens wasn’t able to race as much as he would have without pursuing a college education, the experience made him uniquely qualified for a position at the General Motors Charlotte Technical Center. Although the 130,000-square-foot facility won’t open until early next year, Hutchens was hired as a simulation engineer right out of college.
“Right now, I work from home,” Hutchens said. “I’m in the simulation group. I do a lot with the simulators and DIL (Driver-in-the-Loop). I write code to kind of generate what our sim vehicle is how that relates to the simulators you hear about.
“When I’m done working on the NextGen simulation, I leave the house, go to the shop and work on the truck. That’s how my Monday through Friday goes. And when we’re lucky, we get to go the race track.”
Hutchen’s educational quest has hindered his ability to race full-time in the Truck Series or ARCA Menards Series since making his debut in the latter at 15. He has nine truck starts with career-best finishes of 16th twice. This year he attempted to qualify for six races and made the field at both Charlotte and Nashville.
However, the No. 14 Chevrolet Silverado Hutchens started the season with was destroyed at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 28. Hutchens cut a tire in Turn 3 then tagged the wall, but officials didn’t see he was off the pace and never called a caution. Hutchens was nursing his truck through Turn 4, waiting for a hole to enter pit road during green-flag pit stops when he was plowed into by Johnny Sauter. Sauter never had time to stop. Neither did Drew Dollar.
The team had to scramble to put a truck together for Nashville. Still, Hutchens was thrilled to make the show. And he’s thrilled to be part of the next generation of engineers in NASCAR.
“When I took the job, I was like, ‘Hey, I still want to race,’ and I was encouraged,” Hutchens said. “They kind of wanted me to race. I think it’s good to have someone that’s racing. It offers a different perspective. It’s good to have me. It’s good to have other engineers. We all mesh well together. But if I can bring a mindset to the program that they don’t have, that’s good.
“I enjoy what I do. I love to race, and I get to do it twice a day.”