Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS JR. / RPW – DAYTONA BEACH, FL – The NASCAR Truck Series season kicked off on Friday night with one of the most unpredictable events on the calendar at Daytona International Speedway. For two drivers who call New York home, it wasn’t what they’d hoped it would be.
Stewart Friesen, one of last season’s breakout drivers, struggled Friday as his newly restructured team didn’t seem to have the all out speed they were looking for. Qualifying on an owner points provisional, the Halmar Friesen Racing team, now backed by TRD in their move to the Toyota brand was hoping for much better results in the race. Moving steadily through the field, Friesen’s truck, though definitely hard to handle, seemed to be strong enough to contend for a solid top ten finish after scoring solid stage points in both 20 lap opening segments.
The volatility and uncertainty of racing at Daytona bring with it the very real chance that the best truck, driver and team may not win. Such was the case with Christian Eckes. The rookie for Kyle Busch Motorsports called the Middletown area of New York home growing up. In 2019, Eckes made himself known for immediately jumping into Kyle Busch Motorsports equipment and showing real speed and solid finishes.
In his official rookie season debut, Eckes qualified third. His race began strong, staying with the lead group of trucks and learning what his truck needed to be fast in the large drafting packs that inevitably form on the superspeedway.
Eckes also scored points in both of the race’s first two stages.
The race’s third and final stage was a much longer 60 lap run to the finish involving at least one pit stop to ensure teams could make the finish on fuel. Unfortunately for both Friesen and Eckes, the race for the win would not involve either team as Ben Rhodes came together with eventual race winner Grant Enfinger off turn two.
Both Friesen and Eckes were involved relegating them to a 21st and 22nd place finish respectively.
Fortunately for the two teams, their solid finishes in the race’s stages still give them solid ground to start building their 2020 seasons on.
Most teams across NASCAR tend to recognize the lottery draw a good finish at Daytona can be. Though a points paying race and one that brings a different level of satisfaction at the prospect of a win, the bulk of the season truly begins next week as the series hits its first intermediate track of the season at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.