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OBSERVATIONS: NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway

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A brand new era began in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series as it marked the first race with the new brand, hence the hashtag #ReadySetGo that has been trending across social media leading up to the event. While you always want things to start off well, you could say it was a “bang-up” opening event.

The trucks always put on some of the craziest restrictor plate racing, and the NextEra Energy Resources 250 was no exception. Throughout the event, from the drop of the initial green flag to the end, there was side-by-side racing as drivers jockeyed for positions, sometimes even three-wide.

Over the course of Daytona Speedweeks, fans have practically begged for the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers to stop running single file up against the wall as we saw in both the Advance Auto Parts Clash and the Gander RV Duels.

However, patience was the name of the game as drivers solely wanted to go to the event of the with a car, and  on the case Thursday, save their equipment for Sunday’s DAYTONA 500. There’s no time for that in the trucks as stage points are given out on two different occasions, and the race is only 100 laps total in length. Combined with a lot of youthful drivers eager to prove themselves, riding along doesn’t happen. 

There is a price to pay with what we saw happen on Friday, though, as the truck series only had nine drivers complete the race out of the 32 who took the green flag. The constant battling for position resulted in several wrecks, with 11 cautions taking happening. Oddly enough, more than half of the event was run under the yellow flag (55 laps).

Between the Clash, the ARCA race and now the trucks, there have been 55 cars wrecked. Now do you understand why the Cup Series drivers have been riding along?

The Daytona 500 will probably feature more of the riding that we’ve seen in the past Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series events, just like we saw at Talladega Superspeedway last fall. However, as we close in on the end of stage and the race as a whole, expect the pressure to rise with battles for position happening. When that occurs, though, don’t say we didn’t warn you of what could happen.

While the truck series event was mired with wrecks, you can’t deny being happy for the winner as Austin Hill scored his first career series victory. After working hard to prove himself in lesser equipment the past couple of years, he made the jump to Hattori Racing Enterprises for 2019; this is the team that won the championship in 2018 with Brett Moffitt.

After being excited and welcoming to the opportunity, he’s already proved that he was worthy of the chance with a championship-worthy team. Now locked into the playoffs virtue of the victory, he and Scott Zippidelli can focus on improving their chemistry and keeping the level of performance the same as what Moffitt did last year, hopefully increasing their chances at a run for the title.

There were also other drivers who will leave Daytona with smiles on their faces, like Josh Reaume who scored his first career top-five, and Angela Ruch as she proved that she’s not just another pretty face. Daytona offers a chance for the small fries to shine in a special way. So hopefully the happiness that those two drivers have to offer makes seeing the disappointment on others easier to handle.

EMAIL ASHLEY AT ashley.mccubbin@popularspeed.com

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The thoughts and opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of PopularSpeed.com, its owners, management or other contributors. Any links contained in this article should not be considered an endorsement.

Ashley McCubbin

Currently the Executive Editor for Popular Speed, Ashley McCubbin also runs Short Track Musings, while handling media relations for OSCAAR. Currently living in Bradford, Ontario, she spends her weekend at the local short tracks in the area taking photos.