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All three of NASCAR’s top national series are racing this week at opulent Daytona International Speedway, but the circuit they’ll have to navigate is vastly different from the 2.5-mile oval that hosted last weekend’s races. On Friday, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will race on the 3.61-mile, 14-turn Daytona Road Course, which incorporates most of the oval (with chicanes added) and an infield portion that includes turns labeled the International Horseshoe, the West Horseshoe, and the Kink.
As do all three races this weekend, the BrakeBest Select 159 represents some adroit schedule juggling on the part of the sanctioning body. When it became apparent that the Covid-19 crisis would prevent the race originally scheduled for this slot on the calendar from being held at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California., NASCAR decided to keep the teams in Daytona and run the road course. Friday night’s Truck Series race will be contested at 44 laps (158.85 miles), with stage breaks after Laps 12 and 25.
|BrakeBest Select 159 Information|
|What||BrakeBest Select 159 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race|
|Where||Daytona International Speedway Road Course|
|When||Friday, Feb. 19, 7:30 p.m. ET|
|How to Watch||FS1|
Reigning NASCAR Camping World Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed survived a close call in the Feb. 12 season opener at the Daytona International Speedway oval. On Lap 65, his No. 2 GMS Racing Chevrolet was collected in a five-car wreck on the front stretch, but Creed’s truck escaped serious damage.
The 23-year-old from Alpine, Calif., recovered to finish sixth in the opening chapter of his title defense. This weekend, Creed will defend another title. He won last season’s inaugural Truck Series race on the Daytona Road Course, posting a .743-second victory over runner-up Brett Moffit.
Favored to win this week by DraftKings Sportsbook, Creed (+450) is one of only three drivers in Friday’s race to have won a Truck Series event on a road course. John Hunter Nemechek (+500) and Moffitt (+550) both have registered victories at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. No wonder they’re the second and third favorites for Friday’s race.
After watching Grant Enfinger lead 13 laps and drive the No. 98 ThorSport Racing Ford to an 11th-place finish in the Feb. 12 season opener at Daytona, Christian Eckes (+2200) gets his chance in the truck at the Daytona Road course on Friday.
It’s not an arrangement either driver would prefer. Both were full-time in the Camping World Truck Series last season, Enfinger with ThorSport and Eckes with Kyle Busch Motorsports. But the economics of the sport sometimes make for reluctant bedfellows, even though Eckes posted three runner-up finishes in 2020 and qualified for the Championship 4 race at Phoenix, won four times, and finished fourth in the final standings.
Nevertheless, Eckes and Enfinger will be ride-sharing this year.
“Really looking forward to getting behind the wheel of my No. 98 Tundra this weekend,” said Eckes, who finished 12th in last season’s edition of the race. “I ran the Daytona Road Course last year and had a lot of fun learning different techniques. Hopefully, I’m able to utilize those lessons and put together a good result.”
Daytona has been good to Kaz Grala. In 2017, At age 18, the driver from Boston won his only Truck Series race on the Daytona oval after winning the pole, becoming both the youngest pole winner and youngest race winner at the superspeedway. Later that season, Grala became the youngest driver to qualify for the Playoffs.
Despite his obvious acumen, Grala has raced only one full season in the Camping World Truck Series. But he has a long history on road courses. At age 15, he became the youngest driver to compete in IMSA sportscar racing. He subbed for Austin Dillon last year in the No. 3 NASCAR Cup Series car, after Dillon tested positive for Covid-19, and finished seventh on the Daytona Road Course.
This weekend, Grala is substituting for rookie Kris Wright in the Young’s Motorsport No. 02 Chevrolet as Wright concentrates on his Xfinity Series debut on Saturday. Grala’s odds opened at +2000, and he’s definitely worth a shot at that price.
“I’m very thankful for this opportunity with Young’s Motorsports,” said Grala, who finished 28th in the Daytona 500 for Kaulig Racing last Sunday. “I’m excited to get out there and turn left and right on the Daytona Road Course and have a chance to bring them an outstanding finish.”
Award-winning motorsports writer Reid Spencer has served as lead writer for the NASCAR Wire Service for 16 years, having also spent a four-year stint as NASCAR columnist and beat writer for Sporting News. He is currently serving as president of the National Motorsports Press Association. Email: [email protected]More info on Reid Spencer
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