Jake Garcia celebrated his 18th birthday in style with a career best 10th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in his season debut on Friday night. Garcia’s impressive performance was his first appearance on a 1.5-mile track and earned the No. 35 team’s second straight 10th-place finish. Despite missing the season opener at Daytona International Speedway, the driver of the No. 35 Quanta Services Chevrolet Silverado RST sits 17th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series point standings.
Garcia started his career-best outing with a career-best qualifying run, posting the 14th-quickest lap in pole qualifying. He maintained a top-15 position from the outset, and despite learning the unique caveats of racing through dirty air on the fly, Garcia ran as high as 12th in the opening stage. He was scored 16th at the end of Stage 1 on lap 30, and came to the attention of the Quanta Services team for four tires and fuel under the caution flag.
After varying strategies jumbled the running order, Garcia restarted 20th on lap 36 and was a quick student on the chaotic restarts. Two cautions allowed Garcia to pick his way through traffic on restarts at lap 45 and 53 and climbed as high as 15th in the second stage. A yellow on lap 54 brought Garcia back to pit road for four tires and set up a two-lap conclusion to Stage 2, after which he was scored 17th on lap 60.
Crew chief Mark Hillman properly positioned his strategy to have Garcia restart the final segment inside the top 10 in seventh on lap 66. Despite the rash of caution flags in the race’s first half, the final 69 circuits went green and allowed Garcia to solidify his place in the top 10. After briefly falling back to 13th on lap 76, Garcia found his way back inside the top-10 by lap 87 while dealing with a tight handling condition. On lap 104, Hillman brought Garcia to pit road during the cycle of green-flag pit stops for his final set of tires and fuel. He cycled back to 10th position by lap 111 and held off charges from some of the series’ most accomplished veterans to secure his career best 10th-place result.
Jake Garcia Quote:
“I’m really pleased with that. I learned a lot, personally, you know, and got better and better throughout the race. And learned about the aero and how to catch people, where to do it, and timing it, and it’s all something I got to get used to a little bit more. I thought we did a good job. We had a good (truck) there and felt like in clean air we could run as good as anybody there. I thought we were really good there, just need a little bit out of me, but we had a fast Quanta Services Chevy Silverado RST.”
McAnally Hilgemann Racing PR