By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
DGR-Crosley driver Natalie Decker will have plenty of seat time the next two weeks at Daytona International Speedway. One year removed from winning the pole in the Lucas Oil 200 she will once again compete in the ARCA Racing Series season opener as well as the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race.
Although Decker’s schedule was not a full season, DGR-Crosley has adjusted because of her participation in the W Series. Her new racing home also found her topping a ‘DGR driver pyramid,’ above team co-owner David Gilliland, ARCA teammate Todd Gilliland, and her Truck Series teammates Anthony Alfredo and Tyler Ankrum, as they bonded at the teams’ open house. Although the pyramid was short lived, the fun and trust the drivers put in was evident.
“I’m really excited to get going at Daytona, I love the team that I’m with,” Decker explained. “David’s wonderful, his ambition, personality, the love he has for racing, he just makes it so exciting. All of the guys that he has working for him are wonderful, they work just as hard as he does. It really makes it fun to come to the shop and learn as much as I can. And it definitely makes it fun to go to the track and race.”
Last year, Decker competed full-time in the ARCA Racing Series with Venturini Motorsports before moving to DGR-Crosley during the off-season. In addition to winning the pole, she ran inside the top-10 for much of the race, finishing fifth with considerable damage from one of the many incidents.
“We got the pole last year, and got a top five,” Decker said. “Now we’re coming back in the ARCA car and the Truck. I really hope that we can get a win, that is definitely the goal.”
Between the two series, Decker will have three practice sessions. One in ARCA and two in her No. 54 N29 Capital Partners Toyota Tundra. She will also have a qualifying session in each series, and 80 laps in the No. 54 N29 Capital Partners Toyota Camry ARCA car prior to taking the green flag in the NextEra Energy Resources 250.
Prior to this weekend, Decker has a had limited amount of time on superspeedways. After her stellar run at Daytona last year, she was involved in a wreck early at Talladega Superspeedway. Outside of those two races, her superspeedway track time has been limited to practice sessions, qualifying, and ARCA test sessions.
“Track time definitely helps,” Decker admitted. “Maybe not single-car runs but running in the draft. Just getting seat time in a race, at a superspeedway because the draft is so new, everything is so different, I just want to get a better feel and more knowledge about it. That’s just going to make me a better racecar driver, which is why I’m so excited to do the ARCA race before the Truck race.
“That is just going to give me so much seat time, get to feel the air, used to my spotter, my crew chief, and all of these guys. So, I think it’s going to be great that we’re going there in both the ARCA car and the Truck.”
For Decker, the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona will mark her first Truck Series start as she is locked in via owners’ points. However, it will be just her second appearance in the Truck Series after failing to qualify for the Spring race at Martinsville Speedway in 2016.