Garcia Impresses in Darlington Debut Before OT Incident

McAnally Hilgemann Racing Photo

Jake Garcia was a fixture inside the top-10 on Friday night at Darlington Raceway and had arguably his most impressive runs of the season. However, the driver of the No. 35 Chevrolet Silverado RST was involved in a late-race incident that relegated him to 26th-place result after suffering significant damage during an overtime restart. Garcia still maintained the 13th position in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings after nine of 16 regular season races.

Garcia turned in his second-best qualifying effort of the season by running the fifth-fastest lap in pole qualifying on Friday afternoon for his debut at “The Lady in Black”. The Georgia driver settled into 10th position for the majority of the first stage but battled a tight condition in the center of both corners. He was scored 11th at the end of Stage 1 on lap 45. 

Crew chief Mark Hillman and the MHR team armed Garcia with four tires, fuel, and two adjustments to correct his handling issues, and the tweaks paid dividends. Thanks to a flawless pit stop, Garcia gained five positions on pit road, and elected to restart in eighth position in the outside lane on lap 53. The high line paid off as Garcia immediately claimed the fifth position. He ran as high as fourth on lap 56 before his tight condition appeared once again in the center of both turns. Garcia still ran consistently strong through the balance of Stage 2 and earned five points in sixth position at lap 90. 

He restarted the final stage in sixth position on lap 99 after pitting for fresh tires and quickly rejoined the top five. Six caution flags interrupted the final stage and offered teams plenty of opportunities to bolt on their remaining two sets of fresh tires. Garcia pitted from sixth position under a caution at lap 114, and made his final stop under the lap 128 yellow flag period. Garcia restarted ninth on lap 133 and was in solid position to notch his fourth top-10 in five races until a late caution flew with two laps remaining. A chaotic overtime restart on lap 151 unfortunately saw Garcia get tangled up exiting Turn 2 and was collected in an incident that effectively ended his evening. He finished his Darlington debut one lap down in 26th position. 

Jake Garcia Quote:

“We had a really fast Chevrolet Silverado RST tonight. I felt like we were a solid top-five truck and when we had track position off a restart, our truck was one of the best here. We were a little on the tight side for the first couple runs, but we were close and probably had the most speed of any place we’ve been this year. Unfortunately, we just got crossed up off Turn 2 and hate that we lost the chance at a good finish. We’ll regroup and go to North Wilkesboro next week.”

McAnally Hilgemann Racing PR

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