By Seth Eggert, NASCAR Correspondent
One of NASCAR’s most exciting series is set to hit the track once more. After a long and tumultuous offseason, the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will have its’ first race of the 2019 season at Daytona International Speedway. Driver swaps, teams expanding, and the spec engine are just some of the storylines heading into the season opener.
Coverage for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 is scheduled to start Friday night at 7:30 p.m. ET. The ‘World Center of Racing’ has held the season opener for the Truck Series since the 2000 season. In 19 races at the 2.5-mile Restrictor Plate track, 16 drivers have claimed victory. Sauter is the only former winner entered in Friday night’s race.
The last time the Truck Series visited Daytona International Speedway, Johnny Sauter took the victory in thrilling fashion. He held off his GMS Racing teammate, Justin Haley to take the victory by 0.098 seconds. Five of the drivers that finished in the top-10 that night are entered in Friday night’s race.
With 40 trucks entered and only 32 starting spots available, single truck speeds in practice and qualifying will be key for who will make the field for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season opener.
By the Numbers
What: NextEra Energy Resources 250, NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Season Opener
Where: Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, Florida (Opened: 1959)
TV/Radio: Fox Sports 1, 7:30 p.m. ET / MRN and SiriusXM Channel 90
Track Size: 2.5-mile Tri-Oval
Banking: 31 degrees in turns, 18 degrees in tri-oval, 6 degrees on straightaways
Race Length: 100 Laps, 250 Miles (Three Stages, 20/40/100)
2018 Race Winner: Johnny Sauter – No. 21 Allegiant Airlines Chevrolet Silverado (Started second, 39 laps led).
Track Qualifying Record: Spencer Gallagher (47.332 seconds, 190.146 mph – 02/20/2015).
Off Season Changes for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series:
- Chad Finley Racing will attempt the full season with Robby Lyons and Chad Finley splitting time in the No. 42 Sunwest Construction Chevrolet Silverado.
- Copp Motorsports will run the No. 63 Chevrolet Silverado in honor of the Mittler Bros. Mike Mittler has taken a step back due to an ongoing battle with cancer.
- GMS Racing contracts to two full-time Chevrolet Silverados from four. Driving for the team is Sheldon Creed and defending champion Brett Moffitt.
- Niece Motorsports contracts from two full-time Chevrolet Silverados to one, split by Ross Chastain and Reid Wilson.
- On Point Motorsports will run full-time with Brennan Poole behind the wheel of the No. 30 Toyota Tundra.
- Roper Racing will attempt the full season with Cory Roper behind the wheel of the No. 04 Ford F-150.
- ThorSport Racing will field five Ford F-150s. Drivers are Ben Rhodes, Grant Enfinger, Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter, and Myatt Snider. Rhodes moves from the No. 27 to the No. 99, Snider from the No. 13 to the No. 27, and Sauter will be in the No. 13.
- Young’s Motorsports expands from two full-time Chevrolet Silverados to three. The teams’ drivers are Spencer Boyd, Gus Dean, and Tyler Dippel.
Storylines Heading into the NextEra Energy Resources 250:
There are several storylines going into this weekend’s race to watch for:
- Angela Ruch will make her first Truck Series start since 2010 in the No. 8 Chevrolet Silverado for NEMCO Motorsports.
- Codie Rohrbaugh returns in the No. 9 Chevrolet Silverado.
- Austin Hill replaces Moffitt in the No. 16 Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota Tundra.
- David Gilliland will drive the No. 17 fred’s / Valvoline Toyota Tundra for DGR – Crosley.
- Harrison Burton will be in the No. 18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
- Timothy Peters returns in the No. 44 Friends of Jaclyn Foundation Chevrolet Silverado for Niece Motorsports.
- Natalie Decker will make her NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut in the No. 54 N29 Capital Partners DGR – Crosley Toyota Tundra.
- Christian Eckes will be in the No. 51 SiriusXM Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
- Austin Theriault will be in the No. 92 Ford F-150 for Ricky Benton Racing.
Weekend Schedule (All Times Eastern)
Thursday, February 14
- NCWTS Practice 1 (2:35 p.m. – 3:25 p.m., on Fox Sports 2)
- NCWTS Practice 2 (4:35 p.m. – 5:25 p.m., on Fox Sports 2)
Friday, February 15
- NCWTS Qualifying (4:40 p.m., on Fox Sports 1)
- NCWTS NextEra Energy Resources 250 (7:30 p.m. – 100 laps, 250 miles – on Fox Sports 1, SiriusXM Channel 90, and the Motor Racing Network)