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March 18, 2024

eNASCAR competitor Vicente Salas making Truck Series debut at Circuit of the Americas

A lifelong dream will soon become a reality for eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series competitor Vicente Salas, who will make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas this Saturday (1:30 p.m. ET on FS1).

Salas will drive the No. 20 Chevrolet Silverado for Young’s Motorsports with sponsorship from Miramar Financial Group.

“I am beyond excited,” Salas said. “It’s really a full circle moment. The first car I ever sat in was at Home Depot, it was a Tony Stewart No. 20 car. I think I was 2 or 3 years old at the time. Honestly it is what has driven me until now, sitting in that race car and that feeling.

“To be able to make my first start in the Truck Series driving the No. 20 as well, it just feels surreal.”

The opportunity to make his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut came after Salas reached out to Young’s Motorsports Team Principal Tyler Young in 2023, who has 80 starts in the Truck Series himself.

At the time, Salas was trying to put together the funding to compete in the Truck Series or ARCA Menards Series. While the two sides were unable to reach a deal, the meeting with Young ultimately helped lead to the opportunity for Salas to race at COTA this weekend.

“Last year I wanted to run some ARCA or some Trucks and someone that has always been super highly spoken of is Tyler Young,” Salas said. “I got his contact info and hit him up, I told him I really want to talk to you and try to run some races for you guys.

“Unfortunately, I didn’t get to do anything with him last year, but it was cool to just have him in my contacts and know that if I wanted to go race to just give him a call.”

Salas will become the latest driver with eNASCAR experience to compete in a NASCAR national series event, joining drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Josh Berry, Parker Retzlaff and Kaden Honeycutt, among others.

Salas, a 21-year-old third-generation American with roots in Latin America, has been working towards this opportunity for the last few years.

Vicente Salas (55) during a Late Model Stock Car event at North Carolina’s Hickory Motor Speedway in 2023. (Photo: Gardner Street Photography/Hickory Motor Speedway)

He burst onto the scene in 2021 by winning an eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series event at Richmond Raceway as a rookie.

That victory helped propel him to a real-world opportunity to compete in a zMAX CARS Tour event at Hickory Motor Speedway in 2022, where he brought home a fourth-place finish.

Salas secured enough funding for a season of Late Model Stock Car racing at Hickory the following year. It did not take Salas long to find success, as he won his first race on March 25, 2023 after a last-lap pass.

All the time spent in eNASCAR over the past couple of years, especially with his current team Kanaan eSports, is what Salas credits for his ability to excel in a real race car.

“I don’t believe I’d be anywhere near where I am at now without the eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series,” Salas said. “For me, living out on the West Coast, I felt like I was disconnected from the actual NASCAR scene here on the East Coast.

“I built connections, made new friends that work in the industry here and they were able to get me the connection to go race a Pro Late Model, then the connection to go race the Late Model Stock last year and now to go race this Truck. That win is what helped me get into a Late Model and without that win or without that series, I don’t believe I’d be where I am.”

So how is Salas preparing for his first start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series?

If you said by turning laps on iRacing at the virtual COTA, then you’d be right.

“I have already been running laps. I have talked to a lot of drivers who drive a lot on iRacing and drive in NASCAR as well and they have said the Truck is very close on the sim to what it is in real life,” Salas said. “I’ve already been running laps at COTA and trying to get as many tips and tricks from the guys I know that have run that track.

“I’m just super excited to get rolling at COTA.”