Truex starts from the pole position for the fifth time this season.
Austin Hill won Friday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series season opener at Daytona in an overtime finish, claiming his first career Truck Series win.
The win comes in Hill’s 52nd series start and his first with Hattori Racing Enterprises. Hill, a former member of the NASCAR Next driver program, took over for defending champion Brett Moffitt in the No. 16 Toyota.
Hill, who is from Winston, Georgia, led 39 laps and survived a race that saw 11 cautions and 26 of 32 trucks involved in accidents.
“Man, this truck was fast,” Hill told Fox Sports 1. “I knew we had a truck that could compete. Got a little scared there at the end. I thought (Enfinger) was going to get me, he got a big run. We were able to protect it. I can’t believe my first win came at Daytona. It’s so surreal, I can’t wait to party with these guys.”
Hill’s win is the third in a row for Hattori after Moffitt won the last two races of 2018.
The overtime period was created by a wreck with two laps left in the scheduled 100-lap distance that involved 10 trucks and nearly every remaining frontrunner. The final restart was setup by a two-car incident on the first overtime attempt.
Only nine of the field’s 32 trucks took the final green flag.
“It was a crazy night … carnage everywhere,” Enfinger said. “We tore up a lot of crap tonight.”
STAGE 1 WINNER: Sheldon Creed
STAGE 2 WINNER: Johnny Sauter
NOTABLE: Billy Rock, the jackman on the No. 28 of Bryan Dauzat, was awake and alert after he was hit on pit road early in the race by Dauzat, who had lost his brakes. Rock was transported to a local hospital … Angela Ruch, the niece of Derrike Cope, placed eighth in NEMCO Motorsports No. 8 truck. She is just the second woman to earn a top 10 in the Truck Series. Jennifer Jo Cobb placed sixth at Daytona in 2011.
NEXT: Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta Motor Speedway at 4:30 p.m. ET on Feb. 23 on Fox Sports 1
Christian Eckes won the pole for tonight’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series season opener at Daytona.
Driving the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Eckes posted a top speed of 182.604 mph.
It is the first career pole for 18-year-old Eckes in his fifth career start.
“I felt way more confident in our car in the draft yesterday,” Eckes told Fox Sports 1. “I really wasn’t sure where we would qualify but here we are on the pole.”
He will be joined on the front row by David Gilliland (182.556 mph).
Burton will start from the rear after an engine change was made on his No. 18 Toyota on Thursday.
The race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Are shorter races better? That’s a discussion taking place in NASCAR, along with the length of the season and other key topics.
“We have to keep (fans) engaged,” car owner Jack Roush said Friday at Daytona International Speedway. “We have to think about their attention spans. The races may need to get shorter. That could be cost savings all the way around. Probably need to get shorter.
“People say we need to race fewer times. I’m not sure that’s true. I used to tell (NASCAR Vice Chairman) Mike Helton, if he had three or four races a week, I’d be there for him. I don’t know if I’d say that today.”
Already this week, Kevin Harvick has advocated eliminating the Clash, and Denny Hamlin has noted one of the most popular events in the Olympics is the 100-meter dash instead of the marathon, a hint to shorter races.
These comments have been made as the sport looks to cut costs for teams and energize fans who can become weary over a 38-race season that goes from February to November. NASCAR President Steve Phelps said last year that various ideas would be considered for the 2020 schedule and beyond.
Car owner Roger Penske, whose organization is coming off Joey Logano’s Cup championship season, likens the sport’s look at race lengths to its focus on the next car, which is targeted to debut in 2021.
“I think we’re really talking about Gen 7 for NASCAR,” Penske said, using the term for the next car. “It’s not just the car or the engine. I think it’s the show, it’s the length of the races, it’s where we’re going to run, are we going to run more at night, short tracks. Let’s call it Gen 7 for NASCAR, not just the car.”
A shorter season could limit how many weekends NASCAR goes head-to-head against the NFL in the fall. Shorter races could provide the opportunity for midweek races. The belief from those advocating shorter races is that it would create a better show for fans.
“I think it’s an exciting time for us really in the sport,” car owner Joe Gibbs said. “You know, there’s times that you struggle, and I think we have struggled some, but I honestly think (NASCAR Chairman) Jim France is on board and after it. I think we, having constant meetings with everybody has kind of put everything on the table.
“We’ve got a great fan base, but I think everything is really out there, scheduling, everything that you’re talking about, cost savings, everything is on the table. And so sometimes when you go through a tough time, those wind up being the best times because it causes you to really think your way through things.”
Just as important to teams are the costs, which NASCAR continues to look to cut. There’s also been talk of some type of spending limitation for teams.
“You’re going to see other things happen with the cars, engine packages, that’s going to reduce the cost,” car owner Rick Hendrick said. “So NASCAR is really on it. When you look at it, we talk about a spending cap. I don’t know how you regulate that with all we have going on. I mean, everything is on the table.”
Bob Jenkins, car owner for Front Row Motorsports, said cost containment can make an impact for his three-car organization.
“The ultimate goal has always got to be how can we do more with less with any team,” he said. “I think some of the larger teams have felt the financial pinch maybe more so than we have. When you’re in a constant evolution mode, it’s hard for us to keep up. We can make suspension changes a few times a year. Like Roger said, we can’t change cars every week.
“In previous years, we were always a generation or two behind and it shows on our performance. I think now when they come with these common parts that are produced by a third-party manufacturer that can’t be tweaked or re-engineered it only helps a team like us.”
Paul Menard (200.758 mph) was fastest in Friday’s second Cup practice session at Daytona International Speedway.
Jamie McMurray in his Chevrolet Camaro was second-fastest (200.696 mph) and the only driver not in a Ford in the first 13 positions.
Only 29 of the 40 cars entered in Sunday’s Daytona 500 took part in the second practice. There is one final practice scheduled for Saturday.
In the first practice session earlier in the afternoon, Kyle Busch led a Joe Gibbs Racing juggernaut.
Busch paced the 40-car field with a top speed of 200.285 mph, followed by JGR teammates Martin Truex Jr. (200.200) in second, Erik Jones in fourth (200.156) and Denny Hamlin was seventh-fastest (200.044). Ryan Preece was third-fastest in a Chevrolet at 200.169 mph, while Ryan Newman rounded out the top five at 200.093 mph.