Sanchez outlasts caution-filled Truck Series opener for first career win

Miami native Nick Sanchez cleared the wreckage on the final lap of the Fresh From Florida 250 this past Friday to get his first career NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series victory.

The 22-year-old, in just his second truck season, captured the checkered flag all by himself as the pack behind him piled up on the backstretch. This is Rev Racing’s first win in the series. 

Sanchez becomes the second driver of Cuban descent to win a national series race. The other was Aric Almirola who picked up his first career Cup Series win at the same place in 2014.

While Sanchez wasn’t able to win at his home track, Homestead-Miami Speedway, last season, he says a win at Daytona felt special in its own right. 

Nick Sanchez celebrates with his Rev Racing team after capturing his first career NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win at the Daytona International Speedway. (Courtesy Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

“It’s definitely cool. Even though it’s not in my hometown, it definitely hits home,” said Sanchez. “I’ve come to Daytona many times. It’s in Florida. The scenery, everything about it is Florida, and it’s kind of like home for me.”

There were 12 yellow flags displayed over the scheduled 100 lap race in what felt like an eternity to run under green. The race went in the history books for most cautions in the series at Daytona, beating a previous record of 10. 

The race began with early calamity after Matt Crafton moved his No. 88 Ford F150 into Layne Riggs’ No. 38 truck, sending multiple others around on Lap 5. This collected Sanchez. 

Johnny Sauter, the 2016 series champion, took stage one after the race went only 12 of the first 22 laps under green. 

The end of stage two came face-to-face with a pop-up rain shower, sending the field to pit road for several minutes. For the third time in his career, Tyler Ankrum grabbed all available points with a stage win on Lap 40. 

From there, the cautions kept landing. Sanchez recovered to reach the top five, where he and fellow Rev Racing alum Rajah Caruth led the field through the final 20 laps of the race. 

The lights weren’t too bright at Daytona, but Sanchez says it was better in the moment to fly blind in the waning laps.

“I think that’s the best way to race, and the best plan here is to have really no plan,” said Sanchez. 

A late yellow prompted an overtime restart, where Sanchez pulled away as a massive wreck ensued behind him on the white flag lap. In his rear view mirror was Taylor Gray’s No. 17 truck flipping in the air as NASCAR officials ended the race under caution. 

Caruth finished second, his best ever run in the series. 

“I feel pretty bad about the back stretch there. Corey [Heim] was doing a great job pushing, and you hate to see trucks get torn up like that,” said Caruth, a Washington D.C native. “Sucks to be that close, but definitely happy for Nick. He’s been deserving for a long time, and great for the company.”

The Craftsman Truck Series will take on the unique Atlanta Motor Speedway on Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. FS1 will have the broadcast coverage.

Kenneth Bueno is a junior majoring in the Digital Broadcasting field. He is a sim racing commentator for Podium eSports and aims to apply his love for sports into the sports broadcasting industry after graduating.