A typically action-packed season-opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on the Daytona International Speedway oval last week takes a new turn – 14 turns actually – when the series races on the 3.61-mile infield road course in Friday night’s BrakeBest Brake Pads 159 (7:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Reigning champion Sheldon Creed won the Daytona Road Course event last year, taking a comfortable .743-second win over veteran Brett Moffitt – the two drivers leading 32 of the 46 laps with Creed leading the last 12. Raphael Lessard, Matt Crafton and Austin Hill rounded out the top five in order.
It was the only road-course Truck race of the 2020 COVID-19 affected schedule. Typically, the series races at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario. Among those full-time drivers entered this weekend, only John Hunter Nemechek (2016) and Moffitt (2019) have recent road-course wins there.
Ben Rhodes, a championship contender in 2020, earned the season-opening win at Daytona last weekend, edging Jordan Anderson by .036 seconds. Chandler Smith led the most laps. Rhodes holds a slim four-point edge on the defending champ Creed and Nemechek coming into this weekend’s race.
Hailie Deegan, driver of the No. 1 Team DGR, will be making only her second start in the series as a full-time championship contender. She ran briefly among the top five last weekend on the Daytona oval but was caught in a crash and finished 24th.
Deegan, who was encouraged with her work Sunday, told the media this week she has really benefitted from having former NASCAR Cup Series driver David Ragan as a “tutor” of sorts for the 2021 season.
“He has been crucial for my development,” Deegan said. “Just the level of experience he has and all the knowledge he has that he has been able to feed to me has been so great.
“Ford saw how much he was helping me and the information he was giving me. I think going into the Truck Series this year, Ford stuck him with me with the mindset of working together and doing the best we can together.”
Deegan said the former Cup winner has been able to help the learning curve with all the new tracks she’s encountering. She does have some experience on the Daytona Road Course, finishing sixth in an ARCA Menard Series race there last year.
“His experience and knowledge,” Deegan said. “Everything he knows about every single track. I think going to all these tracks, I am very new to them. A lot of them I haven’t raced at before. Him having experience there and a lot of notes that he can give me is crucial.”
Rhodes will start from the pole this weekend, and Ryan Truex, who finished fourth in last week’s season-opener, will start on the outside front row for Friday’s race.