Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN) race preview

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla — Under the lights at Daytona International Speedway, the 28th NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season kicks off with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 this Friday (Feb. 18 at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).

This weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona is the 23rd running of the event, and 2021 series champion Ben Rhodes is the defending winner of the race.  

In total 19 different drivers have won a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway, led by Johnny Sauter with three victories (2013, 2016, 2018). Just four former series Daytona winners are entered this weekend – Sauter (three wins), Austin Hill (2019), Grant Enfinger (2020) and Ben Rhodes (2021) each have one. The youngest Camping World Truck Series race winner at Daytona is Kaz Grala (02/24/2017 – 18 years, 1 months, 26 days) and the oldest is Joe Ruttman (02/16/2001 – 56 years, 3 months, 19 days).

Six different NASCAR Camping World Truck Series drivers scored their first series career win at Daytona – Austin Hill (2019), Kaz Grala (2017), Tyler Reddick (2015), John King (2012), Michael Waltrip (2011), Robert Pressley (2002).

Truck Series welcomes a new class of rookies

Last season, we saw Chandler Smith take home the Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, beating some tough competition: Carson Hocevar, Hailie Deegan, Chase Purdy, Kris Wright and Tim Veins.

This year, there’s a new class of rookies looking to add their name to the Sunoco Rookie of the Year winners list: Jack Wood, Dean Thompson, Lawless Alan, Corey Heim and Blaine Perkins.

Jack Wood:  Wood made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut last season with GMS Racing on a part-time basis. In his 12 starts, he posted one top-10 finish at Gateway.

This season, he’s back with GMS Racing and will be driving the No. 24 Chevrolet.

Dean Thompson: Thompson made one start in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last season and was just shy of a top-20 finish, placing 21st.

This season, he’s back for a full season and will be behind the wheel of the No. 40 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet.

Lawless Alan: Alan’s first stint in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series was last season at the Daytona Road Course. He made nine starts that season posting a best finish of 18th at Bristol.

He’s joining Niece Motorsports this season and will pilot the No. 45 Chevrolet.

Corey Heim: Heim made his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut last season with Kyle Busch Motorsports where he had three starts. He posted a best finish of 11th at Martinsville and had an average finish of 17.3.

He’ll be back with Kyle Busch Motorsports driving the No. 51 Toyota.

Blaine Perkins: Perkins is scheduled to run fulltime this season with CR7 Motorsports in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Last season, he made his debut in the NASCAR Xfinity Series where he made eight starts for Our Motorsports.

He will be behind the wheel of the No. 9 CR7 Motorsports Chevrolet.

Who Will Be This Year’s Fresh Faces?

Grant Enfinger’s win in the 2020 race wasn’t too big of a surprise. Neither was Ben Rhodes’ last year. But, just look at the finishing order behind them the last two years. Jordan Anderson (2nd), Codie Rohrbaugh (3rd), Derek Kraus (4th) and Natalie Decker (5th) rounded out the top five in 2020.

A year ago, you get Anderson (2nd), Cory Roper (3rd), Ryan Truex (4th) and Carson Hocevar (5th). This race is the definition of unpredictability and it’s must see as a result.

Top Stats

  • 36 Trucks started last year’s race, 30 left with damage
  • The 31 lead changes a year ago tied a race record which was set in 2000.
  • Toyota dominated with eight consecutive wins at Daytona from 2007 to 2014, but Austin Hill’s win in 2019 was the first Toyota driver to have won for the manufacturer at the track since 2014. Ben Rhodes gave them their second in three years last February.
  • Johnny Sauter is the only active driver with more than 1 victory at Daytona (3). In fact, only he and Todd Bodine have multiple trips to victory lane in the Truck Series at the World Center of Racing.
  • We’ve seen 5 straight years with a different winner – Kaz Grala, Johnny Sauter, Austin Hill, Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes.
  • Todd Bodine is the only driver in series history to have won back-to-back at Daytona (2008-2009).
  • Each manufacturer has won in the last four years. Chevrolet (2018), Toyota (2019, 2021) and Ford (2020). Who breaks the trend on Friday night?
  • Only 4 drivers in NASCAR Camping World Truck Series history have won the pole award as well as the race at Daytona International Speedway. Joe Ruttman (2001), Mark Martin (2006), Jack Sprague (2007) and Kaz Grala (2017) are it.
  • 13 of the 22 year history of this race has seen the winner come from a top 10 starting spot. In fact, only seven times has someone started outside of Row 7 on back including Rhodes’ win last year from the 23rd starting position.
  • 2 of the last 3 years have seen at least 10 cautions.
  • The last 3 years have gone into overtime.
  • Margins of victory: 2021 (.036), 2020 (.010), 2019 (.278), 2018 (.098), 2017/2016 (under caution)
  • Time of the races: The last four have all been over 2-hours in length – 2021 (2:20:33), 2020 (2:04:53), 2019 (2:39:20), 2018 (2:04:36). 2017 and 2016 were under two hours.

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