Nick Sanchez scores first Truck career victory at Daytona amid dramatic overtime shootout

From being involved in an early multi-truck wreck to escaping a final lap multi-truck wreck, Nick Sanchez capped off his roller-coaster evening mired with on-track chaos to claim his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series career victory in the Fresh From Florida 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, February 16.

The 22-year-old Sanchez from Miami, Florida, led three times for a race-high 26 of 101 over-scheduled laps in an event where he was involved in a multi-truck wreck on the fifth lap. Despite sustaining cosmetic damage to his No. 2 Gainbridge Chevrolet Silverado RST, Sanchez managed to continue as he methodically remained within distance of the front-runners through the draft. Amid more carnages ensuing, he assumed the lead for the first time with nearly 40 laps remaining and managed to remain upfront amid four additional late-race restarts amid four on-track carnages.

Then during an overtime shootout, Sanchez, who briefly lost the lead to Rajah Caruth, reassumed the top spot with drafting help from Taylor Gray before the final lap. During the final lap, Caruth ignited a multi-truck wreck entering the backstretch that sent a multitude of competitors piling into one another and Gray flipping in the air and on top of two competitors before rolling back on all four wheels. With Sanchez managing to drive away from the field prior to the incident, he was able to cruise back to the frontstretch under a cautious pace and claim his first checkered flag in his 24th series start.

With on-track qualifying that determined the starting lineup occurring on Friday, Ty Majeski started on pole position after posting a pole-winning lap at 178.767 mph in 50.345 seconds. Joining him on the front row was Johnny Sauter, who clocked in the second-best qualifying lap at 178.703 mph in 50.363 seconds.

Prior to the event, the following names that included Spencer Boyd, Ben Rhodes and Jason White dropped to the rear of the field due to unapproved adjustments made to their respective entries.

When the green flag waved and the 2024 Craftsman Truck Series season commenced, Majeski and Sauter battled dead even for the lead through the first two turns and the backstretch amid two tight-packed lanes. With the front-runners continuing to battle amid two tight-packed lanes through Turns 3 and 4 and through the frontstretch, Sauter managed to lead the first lap by a hair over Majeski while receiving drafting help from teammate Matt Mills.

Through the next four laps and as the field started to fan out to three lanes amid the draft, Sauter and Majeski duked back and forth for the lead until Sauter managed to muscle his No. 45 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet Silverado RST ahead of the pack with both lanes in his control. In the process, Majeski settled in second ahead of Corey LaJoie, Tyler Ankrum and Daniel Dye. Meanwhile, Mills, who sustained significant front nose damage to his No. 42 J.F. Electric/Utilitra Chevrolet Silverado RST by drafting Sauter hard in the early laps, was the lead competitor on the outside lane until he was shoved out of the draft amid a tight three-wide battle towards the front.

Then just past the fifth lap mark, the event’s first caution flew after Crafton, who was boxed in between Tanner Gray and Christian Eckes amid a stacked two-pack lane within the top 15, received a bump from Eckes into Gray that got Crafton’s No. 88 Menards Ford F-150 loose and bumping into the side of rookie Layne Riggs, which then carried forth into Crafton clipping Tanner Gray, who clipped Stewart Friesen, who then clipped Nick Sanchez through the backstretch. The chain reaction incident ended up triggering a multi-truck wreck that also included Ty Dillon, Thad Moffitt, Rajah Caruth, Lawless Alan, Keith McGee, Enfinger, and Jake Garcia. Amid the incident, Sauter was scored the leader ahead of Majeski, LaJoie, Ankrum and Daniel Dye while Bayley Currey, Taylor Gray, Bret Holmes, Toni Breidinger and Dean Thompson were running in the top 10.

During the caution period, some including Jason White, LaJoie, Grant Enfinger, Timmy Hill, Ben Rhodes, Crafton, Riggs, Mills and Tanner Gray pitted while the rest led by Sauter remained on the track.

When the race restarted under green on Lap 12, Sauter and Majeski dueled for the lead in front of two tight-packed lanes through the first two turns and the backstretch. They remained dead even for the lead through the frontstretch as Sauter tried to edge ahead before Majeski fought back on the inside lane. Amid the tight battle for the lead, Sauter had teammate Currey and Taylor Gray drafting him while Majeski had drafting help from Ankrum as he then muscled ahead with the lead through Turns 3 and 4 during the following lap. Majeski would continue to have both drafting lanes to himself with the lead and with drafting help from Ankrum by the Lap 15 mark.

Shortly after, the caution returned after Lawless Alan, who was involved in the event’s early multi-truck wreck, spun by himself below the apron entering Turns 1 and 2 after he blew a right-rear tire and damaged his front nose after his truck dug into the infield grass before he then spun back across the track and was dodged by oncoming traffic. During the caution period, some including Dye, Stefan Parsons, Cory Roper, Sanchez, Caruth, Codie Rohrbaugh and Boyd pitted while the rest led by Sauter remained on the track.

With a single remaining in the first stage period, the event restarted under green. At the start, Sauter and Majeski again dueled for the top spot through the first two turns until Sauter prevailed on the outside lane with drafting help from teammate Currey to assume the top spot for good through the backstretch. The field then fanned out through the backstretch as both Currey and Majeski tried to mount a late charge for the lead, but their momentum was not enough as Sauter managed to capture the first Truck stage victory of the 2024 season. Majeski and Currey duked for the runner-up spot while Ankrum, Taylor Gray, Holmes, Jack Wood, Eckes, Thompson and Heim were scored in the top 10.

Under the stage break, some led by Sauter pitted while the rest led by Majeski remained on the track.

The second stage period started on Lap 26 as Majeski and Ankrum occupied the front row. At the start, Majeski and Ankrum dueled for the lead until Ankrum muscled ahead with drafting help from teammate Eckes through Turns 1 and 2. With the field dispersed and the competitors trying to regather into a drafting file, Ankrum retained the lead over teammate Eckes and Rhodes while LaJoie, Crafton, Daniel Dye, Sanchez, Breidinger, Heim and Mills moved up the leaderboard as Majeski dropped out of the top 10.

At the Lap 30 mark, Ankrum retained the lead ahead of a hard-charging Rhodes, who received drafting help from LaJoie on the outside lane to challenge Ankrum for the lead through Turns 1 and 2 while Eckes continued to draft teammate Ankrum on the inside lane. Amid the stacked two-packed field, Crafton and Sanchez battled for fifth while Heim, Dye, Majeski and Breidinger were running in the top 10 ahead of Enfinger, Mills, Caruth, Sauter, Roper and Holmes.

A lap later and as both Ankrum and Rhodes continued to battle dead even for the lead, the caution flew due to debris in the form of a tire carcass from Stewart Friesen’s entry being spotted in Turn 3, with Friesen pitting for fresh tires. During the caution period, some including Sauter, Currey, Thompson, Tanner Gray, Breidinger, Mills and Holmes pitted while the rest led by Ankrum remained on the track.

During the following restart on Lap 37, Ankrum received another strong push from teammate Eckes to muscle ahead with the lead on the inside lane. Crafton and Dye would follow suit while Rhodes fell back into a side-by-side battle with teammate Majeski for fifth place amid the draft and two stacked lanes. With Rhodes picking up LaJoie as a drafting partner through the frontstretch, Ankrum maintained the lead ahead of teammate Eckes, Crafton and Dye through the proceeding lap.

The caution, however, would return on Lap 38 due to reports of mist around the superspeedway venue. With the field being directed to pit road and placed under a red flag period for more than seven minutes to await the track being dried, Ankrum was awarded the Stage 2 victory scheduled to conclude on Lap 40. Teammate Eckes settled in second while Crafton, Dye, Rhodes, Majeski, LaJoie, Enfinger, Sanchez and Heim were scored in the top 10.

Once the red flag lifted and the field proceeded under a cautious pace for the second stage break, nearly the entire field led by Ankrum pitted while the rest led by Bret Holmes and Sauter remained on the track. During the pit stops, Ankrum nearly collided with Spencer Boyd, who was trying to enter his pit stall. In addition, Jason White drove through multiple pit stalls while Majeski was penalized due to his pit crew jumping over his pit stall too soon.

With 56 laps remaining, the final stage commenced under green as Holmes and Sauter occupied the front row. At the start, Holmes marched ahead with the lead from Sauter, where the former moved in front of him to the inside lane before Tanner Gray gained a strong run amid the draft through the backstretch to claim the lead followed by Chase Purdy. Amid Gray’s early efforts, Holmes would maintain the lead amid the draft followed by Sauter for the next two laps before the caution returned as Keith McGee wrecked in Turn 4.

During the caution period, select names that included Sanchez, LaJoie and Cory Roper pitted while the rest led by Holmes remained on the track.

With the event restarting with 49 laps remaining, Sauter and Holmes engaged in another side-by-side battle for the lead and in front of two tight-packed lanes. Five laps later, however, the caution flew after Holmes slipped sideways while battling Sauter entering the frontstretch and spun towards the infield along with Currey, who spun off the front nose of Taylor Gray and made light contact with the inside wall towards the pit road entrance. This resulted in a majority of the field led by Sauter returning to pit road for service while the rest led by Enfinger pitted. Enfinger, however, would pit shortly after along with several other names during the caution period, thus handing the lead to Sanchez

With the event restarting with 39 laps remaining, Sanchez received a strong push from Taylor Gray to muscle away with the lead. As the field fanned out to two and three tight-packed lanes amid the draft, Sanchez had both lanes to his control as he retained the lead followed by Taylor Gray. Three laps later, however, Ben Rhodes received a strong shove from Eckes to march forward into the lead, where he would lead the next five laps before he was challenged by Sauter for the top spot.

Then with 30 laps remaining, Rhodes made an unscheduled pit stop under green due to a tire issue to his No. 99 Ranch Fuel Energy Drink Ford F-150 as a result of an earlier on-track contact with Ankrum, where Ankrum ran into the right side of Rhodes’ entry. Amid Rhodes’ issue, a three-way battle for the lead ensued between Chase Purdy, Sanchez and Eckes for the lead while LaJoie, Parsons, Taylor Gray, Ankrum and Jack Wood joined the battle amid two tight-packed lanes.

Two laps later, Rhodes’ event went from bad to worse after he slipped sideways and spun in Turn 4 while also making contact with Tanner Gray and Breidinger due to another tire issue to his entry. The issue occurred as Rhodes was lapped by the leaders entering Turns 3 and 4. With the damage to his entry, the reigning two-time Truck Series champion concluded his event in his pit stall.

During the proceeding restart with 23 laps remaining, Sanchez received a strong shove from Eckes to assume the lead from LaJoie as Taylor Gray followed suit in third place. Trouble, however, returned during the following lap when Eckes received a bump from LaJoie that sent his No. 19 NAPA Chevrolet Silverado RST sideways and into the side of Parsons while he also got rear-ended by Sauter, whose hood popped up as both he and Eckes spun entering the frontstretch.

The start of the next restart with 16 laps remaining featured Sanchez muscling away from the field on the inside lane with a strong push from Taylor Gray. They would be followed by Jack Wood while the rest of the field engaged to battling in two tight-packed lanes. The following lap, the caution returned after Dean Thompson ran into the rear of Mason Massey entering Turn 4 and slipped sideways while teammate Breidinger was also involved as she ran into the rear of Thompson, slipped up the track and spun her No. 1 Celsius Toyota Tundra TRD Pro.

During the following restart with nine laps remaining, Rajah Caruth received drafting help from teammate LaJoie to move into the lead entering the first two turns. Both Spire Motorsports competitors would muscle away from the field through the backstretch until Sanchez gained a massive draft to reassume the top spot with drafting help from Taylor Gray as they were followed by Wood, Ankrum and Purdy while Caruth and LaJoie briefly separated amid the draft.

Two laps later and as Sanchez and Taylor Gray started to battle dead even for the lead in front of the pack, the caution flew after Ankrum slipped sideways off the front nose of Purdy, with both collecting Eckes before spinning through the backstretch’s grass. The incident was enough to send the event into overtime as Sanchez was scored the leader ahead of Caruth, Taylor Gray, Wood, LaJoie and Crafton.

At the start of the first overtime attempt, Sanchez and Caruth battled dead even for the lead through the first two turns until Caruth assumed the lead from the outside lane as both he and LaJoie rocketed ahead from the outside lane. They then maintained the lead through the backstretch until Sanchez and Taylor Gray gained a run to the outside lane towards Turns 3 and 4, which was enough for Sanchez to reassume the lead entering the frontstretch.

When the white flag waved and the final lap started, Sanchez was leading ahead of Taylor Gray, Wood, Caruth and Heim as the field started to fan out to three lanes through the first two turns. Then entering the backstretch, a fiery multi-truck ignited after Caruth drove up the track and turned Wood into Taylor Gray, which sent Gray spinning and wrecking against the backstretch’s outside wall before he was T-boned by Daniel Dye and sent upside-down on top of Eckes and Tanner Gray before his No. 17 JBL Toyota Tundra TRD Pro rolled back on all four wheels. With the caution flag flying to end the event as nearly the entire field wrecked in the backstretch, Sanchez, who drove away from the incident, was scored the leader and declared the winner for his first series’ career victory.

With the victory, Sanchez, who claimed the 2023 Truck Series Rookie-of-the-Year title and just missed the Championship 4 cutline amid a winless season, became the 123rd competitor overall to achieve a victory in the Craftsman Truck Series and the seventh to do so at Daytona International Speedway. He also recorded the first victory across NASCAR’s top three national touring series for Rev Racing and the 100th points-paying victory in NASCAR at Daytona for the Chevrolet nameplate, with the Chevrolet nameplate also racking up its fourth victory at Daytona.

Photo by Patrick Sue-Chan for SpeedwayMedia.com.

“[The win]’s Pretty surreal, especially with how the race started,” Sanchez said on FS1. “A big thanks to my team, sticking with me all last year. We were winless. It hurt. We should’ve won, but we redeemed ourselves in the first race possible. [It’s] Definitely gonna be a good year.”

Amid the carnage, Rajah Caruth navigated his damaged No. 71 HendrickCars.com Chevrolet Silverado RST to a career-best runner-up result followed by Corey Heim while Bret Holmes and Spencer Boyd ended up in the top five. Parsons, Crafton, Timmy Hill, Bryan Dauzat and Eckes finished in the top 10.

Taylor Gray, who ended up 19th following his final-lap upside-down wreck, emerged uninjured, though he, LaJoie, Dye, Roper, Thompson and Rohrbaugh were unable to finish.

There were 24 lead changes for 12 different leaders. The race featured 12 cautions for 52 laps.

Following the first event of the 2024 Truck Series season, Tyler Ankrum, who finished 11th at Daytona, leads the regular-season standings by a single point over Sanchez, four over Eckes, five over both Holmes and Crafton, seven over both Heim and Majeski and eight over Caruth.

Results.

1. Nick Sanchez, 26 laps led

2. Rajah Caruth, one lap led

3. Corey Heim

4. Bret Holmes, 13 laps led

5. Spencer Boyd

6. Stefan Parsons

7. Matt Crafton

8. Timmy Hill

9. Bryan Dauzat

10. Christian Eckes, one lap led

11. Tyler Ankrum, 16 laps led, Stage 2 winner

12. Jason White

13. Bayley Currey

14. Stewart Friesen

15. Ty Majeski, six laps led

16. Tanner Gray, one lap led

17. Grant Enfinger, two laps led

18. Jack Wood

19. Taylor Gray – OUT, Accident

20. Corey LaJoie – OUT, Accident, five laps led

21. Daniel Dye – OUT, Accident

22. Cory Roper – OUT, Accident

23. Codie Rohrbaugh – OUT, Accident

24. Dean Thompson – OUT, Accident

25. Mason Massey, one lap down

26. Matt Mills, two laps down

27. Tony Breidinger, four laps down

28. Chase Purdy – OUT, Accident, one lap led

29. Johnny Sauter – OUT, Accident, 24 laps led, Stage 1 winner

30. Ben Rhodes, – OUT, Accident, five laps led

31. Keith McGee – OUT, Accident

32. Lawless Alan – OUT, Overheating

33. Layne Riggs – OUT, DVP

34. Jake Garcia – OUT, Accident

35. Ty Dillon – OUT, Accident

36. Thad Moffitt – OUT, Accident

With the 2024 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series season underway, the next event on the schedule is the Fr8 208 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. The event is scheduled to occur next Saturday, February 24, and air at 2 p.m. ET on FS1.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Best New Zealand Online Casinos

RacingJunk.com and Leaf Racewear Safety Equipment Giveaway

Rocketplay Casino

10 deposit casinos

Best Betting Sites in Canada

bettingtop10.ca

Latest articles