And so it begins..
A new year means a full slate of coverage in all three NASCAR series from the Camping World Truck Series to the Cup Series. Like always, the truck series will officially begin the NASCAR season with 100 laps around Daytona International Speedway on a Friday night.
Last season, Thorsport Racing’s Grant Enfinger beat out Jordan Anderson in a photo finish to kick off a run to the Championship 4. However, Enfinger will only run a part-time schedule in 2021 as Thorsport signed Christian Eckes, who will split time in the No. 98 truck with Enfinger.
Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton return to their Thorsport trucks, which switched to Toyota for the 2021 season. Rhodes starts 23rd while Crafton starts 14th.
Their teammate in Johnny Sauter won the pole for Friday’s season opener. This is some much-needed momentum for Sauter after failing to win and reach the playoffs in 2021. The pole was the ninth of his career. Daytona has been kind to Sauter as he has won three races on the superspeedway (2013, 2016, 2018).
GMS Racing’s Sheldon Creed will join Sauter on the front row. Creed is the defending series champion after rallying in overtime at Phoenix Raceway to win the race and earn his first career title. Creed is joined at GMS by new teammates in Chase Purdy and Raphael Lessard. They start their GMS tenures on the right foot as they will start fourth and fifth respectively. Zane Smith and Tyler Ankrum round out the five-truck GMS lineup. Those two will roll off eighth and 11th respectively.
Kyle Busch Motorsports will look different in 2021 as John Hunter Nemechek moves from the Cup Series to the trucks in the No. 4 Toyota while Chandler Smith gets the call up from the ARCA Menards Series and will drive full-time in the No. 18. Drew Dollar will run part-time in the No. 51 truck, but will start the opener at Daytona. Smith rolls off sixth, Nemechek starts seventh and Dollar starts 17th.
Another team looking to compete for a title this year is Niece Motorsports and its three-car program. 2012 truck series champion James Buescher will compete in Daytona in the No. 44 truck, but won’t compete full time. Brett Moffitt moves from GMS to the No. 45 truck for Niece after frustrations from not winning the title in Phoenix. He will start 15th in his Niece debut. Carson Hocevar and Ryan Truex round out the lineup of Niece drivers competing for a title. The drivers will start 12th and 25th respectively.
DGR-Crosley sees the full-time debut of Hailie Deegan in the truck series. She will pilot the No. 1 Ford truck and seeks to lead a renaissance of women in NASCAR. Deegan qualified well and will roll off from the ninth starting position.
Single-car teams in Austin Hill and Stewart Friesen will look to upset the big truck teams this year. Hill was the regular-season champion in 2020 while Friesen missed the playoffs. Hill starts 18th and Friesen struggled in qualifying with a 29th-place effort.
Stages for the NextEra Energy 250 end on lap 20, lap 40 and the finish on lap 100. Coverage begins on Fox Sports 1 at 7:30 p.m. EST with the green flag set to drop at 7:39 p.m. The Motor Racing Network will provide all your audible needs.
Pit stall assignments:
Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2021/02/08/goodyear-tire-notes-daytona/