Jake Garcia continued his rookie season with another consistent performance in his first start at Martinsville Speedway on Friday night which resulted in a 13th-place finish. The driver of the No. 35 Chevrolet Silverado continued to gain ground on a playoff spot by advancing three positions in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series drivers’ point standings and sits 12th after seven races. Garcia’s run also moved the No. 35 team up to 11th in the owners’ point standings.
Garcia began the eventful night at Martinsville Speedway from 18th position after managing a loose condition in qualifying under sunny skies on Friday afternoon. Immediately following the command to fire engines, a lightning strike paused the evening’s events and was followed by a heavy rain shower that soaked the half-mile speedway. For the first time in NASCAR history, teams bolted on rain tires for an oval race and the green flag dropped on a damp racetrack.
Garcia’s raw ability and truck control was on full display as he quickly advanced from his 18th starting spot to 11th by lap 16 on the damp track conditions. A competition caution on lap 27 was thrown as the track dried out, which allowed teams to switch to slick tires under a non-competitive pit stop cycle. Garcia elected the bottom lane for the restart on lap 44 and ran 13th at the end of Stage 1 on lap 50.
Crew chief Mark Hillman kept Garcia on track under the stage caution with only seven green flag laps on the tires. Another shower and red flag during the stage caution halted action before restarting on lap 72, under fully dry conditions. Garcia restarted 13th and advanced as high as 11th by lap 87 and was scored in 13th position at the end of Stage 2 on lap 100. The rookie driver battled a tight condition through a sequence of two abbreviated runs and caution periods to begin the final stage. Unfortunately, precipitation returned while under a caution at lap 116 and prematurely ended the race after 124 laps with Garcia in the 13th position.
Jake Garcia Quote:
“It was hard to get in a rhythm with starting on the rain tires and switching to slicks. There were a lot of really short runs went we did go green, so you had to make as much time as you could off the restarts. Our Chevrolet Silverado RST was pretty good on the rain tires to start and drove all the way up to 11th, but we just fought tight towards the end of the night. We’ll take the next couple off weeks to get ready for Kansas and hopefully have a good run there.”
McAnally Hilgemann Racing PR