The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series kicked-off its 23rd year of competition and its eighth year racing at Daytona International Speedway. Some drivers left Daytona happy, but others like Matt Crafton (still searching for his first win at Daytona) left unhappy. Others included Noah Gragson, John Hunter Nemechek, Myatt Snider, Stewart Friesen, Cody Coughlin and Brett Moffit.
Thorsport Racing – Two of its entries were involved in multiple incidents at the 2.5-mile superspeedway. On Lap 74, Snider was collected in a six-truck crash. He barely made it through the crash but was caught at the last second by Nemechek. After finishing seventh in Stage 1, Snider’s night was done early and he was relegated to a 24th place finish after finishing in the top 10 last year.
“I almost got through the wreck, but John (Hunter Nemechek) ended up coming down the track and we made contact,” Snider said. “Then, I was in the grass and dug the splitter in and tore the nose off. We had a really good truck – the guys at ThorSport brought me a really good Liberty Tax Ford F-150, and I’m really proud of the work they’ve all done, especially for how quick we had to get things turned around before the season started. It’s a great group of guys, I just hate that all of their hard work ended up getting torn up like that.”
Matt Crafton was involved in a five-truck crash late in the race on Lap 83. With the incident, Crafton is still searching for his first Daytona win and it will have to wait another year, as he wound up finishing 19th. Despite not getting the finish he wanted, Crafton is looking forward to Atlanta next weekend.
“Tonight just wasn’t our night,” he said. “We had the pit road issue early, and then we had an issue with something under the hood – never could quite figure that out. Then, there at the end, we got turned and had to make multiple trips down pit road to repair the damage on the rear. Overall though, this Menards Ford F-150 was good. Even after the pit road penalty, I knew we could make our way back to the front whenever we wanted, we just had to play it smart. Unfortunately, we just didn’t get to make that move. We will regroup and head to Atlanta next week – hands down one of my favorite tracks.”
Cody Coughlin found himself in a new team this season driving the No. 2 JEGS Chevy for GMS Racing. Things started off well as he started 10th and finished there in Stage 1 while finishing fourth in Stage 2. However, at Daytona, you have to some luck in order to be there at the end to capitalize on it. Unfortunately, Coughlin was collected in the first wreck of the night off Turn 4. At the end of the night, the scoring pylon showed the No. 2 in 17th.
“Well, we had a good run going tonight and a really fast JEGS.com Chevrolet Silverado,” Coughlin said. “We just had terrible luck. It’s hard to overcome two flat left rear tires and having to start at the tail of the field a lot due to those issues. Hopefully, we can get this luck turned around for next weekend at Atlanta (Motor Speedway).”
Noah Gragson who is now in his second year at Kyle Busch Motorsports also had unfortunate luck after having a strong run. Gragson posted a fifth place qualifying effort Friday afternoon giving him a good starting position. But at Daytona, it’s not where you start, it’s where you finish. The first two stages saw him finish ninth and 14th, respectively. On Lap 56, the No. 18 Safelite Tundra was involved in a multi-vehicle wreck which thus ended their night early with a 23rd place finish.
“In Daytona, a lot of the luck is not in the drivers’ hands — it is what it is. We qualified really good — Rudy Fugle and the guys on this No. 18 team built a really fast Safelite AutoGlass/Switch Toyota Tundra during the offseason,” Gragson said. “I’m thankful for the opportunity to be driving for this team. This is not the way we wanted to start our season, but we can go to Atlanta next week with our heads held high that we had a lot of speed and I’m confident that we’ll have speed again next weekend in our first mile-and-a-half race of the year.”
Hunter Nemechek finished 25th after being taken out on Lap 74, Stewart Friesen (27th) on the same lap and Brett Moffit was shown 26th.
While some teams are already ahead and look forward to Atlanta Motor Speedway next weekend, other teams are behind and will be playing catch up.