Sanchez Wins Truck Series Race with Flashes of History

Gus Dean Prevails in ARCA Menards Race


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Racing went late into the night at Daytona International Speedway, ultimately ending early Saturday morning. The regularly scheduled Craftsman Truck Series race was won by Nick Sanchez after a wicked last-lap crash, while Gus Dean prevailed in the rescheduled ARCA Menards Series race.

Craftsman Truck Series - Fresh from Florida 250

Nick Sanchez was triumphant in the Fresh from Florida 250, the year's first regular season race in the Craftsman Truck Series. His win was historic for more reasons than one: Sanchez scored the 100th victory at Daytona for Chevrolet as a manufacturer, and he became the second Cuban-American driver to win a race in one of NASCAR's three national series. It was also Sanchez's first career win in the Truck Series.

“We spent all of last year trying to get a win," Sanchez said. "I knew coming into this year I knew that I had to, right? What better race to do it than Daytona? Honestly, out of every race, if I was going to do it, this would have been the last one [I expected], but happy to do it. It’s awesome."

The final lap of the race was cut short by a multi-car pileup directly behind Sanchez, which took out some of the top trucks in spectacular fashion. It seemed as though an errant push from Corey LaJoie to the bumper of his teammate Rajah Caruth sent the latter up the track into Jack Wood. Wood collected Taylor Gray, who went airborne and flipped down over multiple other trucks. Caruth narrowly escaped the carnage, bringing home a second-place finish. A dozen or so trucks were involved, and Sanchez and Caruth crossed the finish line under caution.

Sanchez survived the wreck in part because he'd placed significant distance between himself and the trucks behind him on the final lap. It was a risky move, considering years past where the leader at Daytona has fallen victim to a last-second charge from an organized line of contenders. But Sanchez wasn't worried about that.

"I'd much rather take my chances losing it at the start-finish line than losing it on the backstretch under caution," he said. Because it was the final lap, a caution flag freezes the field as the running order stands. Sanchez gambled that staying in the lead would set him up for the win if that happened, and his hunch turned out to be right to get the #2 Gainbridge Chevrolet in Victory Lane.

ARCA Menards Series - Daytona ARCA 200

Gus Dean won a chaotic ARCA season opener at Daytona early Saturday morning. The race, originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, had been moved up to Friday evening to account for bleak weather forecasts for the following day. The race continued on after midnight, leading to a victory for Dean despite a characteristically hectic race.

Dean's race started out ugly, when contact with teammate Toni Breidinger triggered a wreck that eliminated several cars. Breidinger, who'd just finished up in the Truck Series race minutes earlier, was none too happy with her teammate. "Gus thought he was clear and he was not clear," she said after exiting the infield care center. "Gus is supposed to have the most experience here, to be the veteran of the team." She continued to say that "it was a stupid move" and that "his dad is writing the check."

All the same, Dean brought home the #55 Dean Custom Air Toyota in first place. He bested Thomas Annunziata, Greg Van Alst, Christian Rose, and Tim Richmond to round out the top five.

Also of note in the ARCA race was the entry of Shane Van Gisbergen. Having run years in the V8 Supercar Series and winning three championships, Van Gisbergen became an American phenom by winning his NASCAR debut at the Chicago Street Course last year. Van Gisbergen is committed to the full 2024 Xfinity Series schedule, but was required to run the ARCA race in order to be licensed to drive the Xfinity race at Daytona.

Van Gisbergen initially didn't qualify for the ARCA race, throwing his Xfinity prospects into doubt. However, the lucky withdrawal of another race team bumped him into the show. Being caught up in the Dean-Breidinger wreck marred Van Gisbergen's night early, but he was still granted his license to compete in Xfinity.