All three NASCAR series remain at Daytona International Speedway this weekend, but the configuration has changed as drivers will now hit the 3.61-mile road course for the second time in every series’ history.
Thorsport Racing got the season started off on the right foot as Ben Rhodes took home the win on the superspeedway last Friday in a wild ending. He’s locked himself into the playoffs and can now focus on consistency and preparations to make a run at this first championship. Rhodes had an average day on the road course last year, finishing 14th. He will roll off the field on the pole Friday evening.
The No. 98 team for Thorsport sees their first driver change as Christian Eckes makes his 2021 debut. This makes Eckes and 2020 Championship 4 driver Grant Enfinger ineligible for the postseason. Eckes had a wild time maneuvering through the road course last season. He spun early in the race and was turned by Stewart Friesen at the finish line, totaling his car in the grass. Eckes finished 12th in that race. He will have work to do starting in the 16th position.
Defending champion Sheldon Creed was the winner of the inaugural road-course race and will start fifth Friday evening. However, a bit of concern propped up for the No. 2 GMS Racing team as Creed is sponsor-less for the race.
Jordan Anderson and Cory Roper rounded out the top three in the season opener last Friday, but Anderson will not be racing as he focuses on his Xfinity Series team. Instead, it will be Bobby Reuse getting the start in Anderson’s truck Friday. The 50-year old has made three starts in the truck series with a career-high finish of 17th at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in 2017. Roper will roll off from the sixth starting position.
Rookie of the Year contender Hailie Deegan had a rough end to her full-season debut as she spun down the backstretch and hit the inside wall with just 20 laps to go. She finished three laps down in the 24th position. Deegan will look to bounce back as she starts 23rd Friday.
Kaz Grala returns to the truck series after racing in the Daytona 500 last Sunday. He will be driving the No. 02 truck for Young’s Motorsports. In 2020, Grala filled in for Austin Dillon in the Cup race on the road course and scored a seventh-place finish for the Richard Childress Racing No. 3 team. Look for him to be a possible contender for the win. Grala rolls off 24th.
ARCA Menards Series drivers Sam Mayer and Lawless Alan will also be running the road course Friday night. Mayer already has a win in the truck series after winning the Bristol night race last September. He will be piloting the No. 75 Henderson Motorsports truck. Alan debuts in the truck series for Reaume Brothers Racing in the No. 34 truck. Mayer and Alan will start 36th and 40th respectively.
Weather will play a factor Friday as rain is forecasted during at least the first half of the race. Instead of a near six-hour delay, rain tires will be in effect, giving truck drivers a taste of what it’s like to wheel their vehicles in less-than-optimal conditions.
Stages for the race end on lap 12, lap 25 and the finish on lap 44. The green flag is scheduled to wave at 7:44 p.m. EST. Fox Sports 1 will provide the visual needs, while the Motor Racing Network will take care of your ears.
Pit stall assignments:
Goodyear tire notes: https://www.jayski.com/2021/02/16/goodyear-fast-facts-daytona-road-course-2/