The trucks came off an exciting race at Daytona only to come back and give us another exciting, yet very long Daytona all over again. Ben Rhodes scored his second win in a row now and each one comes with a hard fight. Rhodes had to overtake and hold off last year’s champion Sheldon Creed after multiple cautions and overtimes. Even having the win all but stolen from him when the caution flag was waved feet before he crossed the line for the final lap.
There has been criticism on NASCAR for the added road courses to the schedule, but so far this season each of the road course races at Daytona has been very entertaining. While last night’s BrakeBest Pads 159 was getting a little tiring at the end, can’t say it wasn’t fun to watch two aggressive drivers in Ben Rhodes and Sheldon Creed fight it out for the win.
The Camping World Truck Series entered 2021 with some questions about the entertainment level of this year’s field. The only key development driver in the field this year is Hailie Deegan and she’s definitely going to take some development before she becomes a consistent threat. Guys who are trying to earn their shot like Rhodes, Creed, Nemechek, Gilliland, Eckes, and Chandler Smith all seem like they’re going to be vying for wins this year.
The season may have started out with one guy winning the opening two races, but the rest of the field has not given it away to Rhodes. Once we’re ten races in I could see us having five different winners. The competition this year seems that stout.
Hailie Deegan was a non-factor all night. She struggled for most of the day to remain in the top twenty and found herself in the grass on the last overtime restart. It seems that Deegan isn’t going to be lighting the world on fire this year, and that’s okay. Deegan has always been a prospect and I think we forget that because she was successful quickly in ARCA, but the jump from trucks to ARCA is massive in terms of skill and competition; ask Todd Gilliland.
Gilliland continues to turn in good results but not getting close enough for a win. You can see the potential brimming, but it seems like Front Row Motorsports’ equipment isn’t up to par with the likes of ThorSport, GMS, or even KBM.
John Hunter Nemechek was in position for the win at the end but was unable to overtake Ben Rhodes on the final restart. It’s only two races in so I’m not panicking, but the risky move JHN made by demoting himself all the way to trucks is looking poor at this moment. I expected him to look like an early favorite for the Championship, and that has not been the case. JHN has looked like every KBM truck for the last five years, fast enough to run up front, but not the best in the truck series anymore. I was hoping Nemechek would change that, and there’s still time, but I’m starting to think running in the Cup series for a team that just won the Daytona 500 looks pretty good right now.
Also, wanted to point out Timmy Hill earning a top ten. A completely self-funded car he was able to wheel it to a top ten at a road course, that’s a pretty impressive feat. Hill is pulling triple duty this weekend and I’d say that this was about as good as any win for a guy taking the Ross Chastain hard knock life development plan.
The trucks will be off next week and return on March 5th at Las Vegas.