NASCAR: Why is Chase Elliott competing in the Truck race?

Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Chase Elliott, Hendrick Motorsports, Daytona 500, NASCAR (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) /

Chase Elliott is set to open up the 2023 NASCAR season by competing in not only the Daytona 500 but in the Truck Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

The 2023 NASCAR Cup Series season is scheduled to get underway this Sunday afternoon with the 65th annual Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway, but three full-time Cup Series drivers are set to compete in either the Truck Series race or the Xfinity Series race at the track beforehand.

Corey LaJoie is set to compete for Spire Motorsports, which is his Cup Series team, in the NextEra Energy 250 Truck Series race on Friday night (7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1). Justin Haley is set to compete for Kaulig Racing, which is also his Cup Series team, in the Beef. It’s What’s For Dinner. 300 Xfinity Series race on Saturday night (5:00 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1).

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott is also set to compete in Friday night’s Truck Series race, but for an organization other than his Cup Series team. He is set to drive the No. 35 Chevrolet for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing. He has never previously competed in a Truck Series race at the Daytona Beach, Florida oval.

This truck is set to be driven full-time by Jake Garcia throughout the 2023 NASCAR Truck Series season. So why is Chase Elliott set to drive it?

Garcia is still just 17 years old and isn’t set to turn 18 until Friday, March 3. Drivers not yet 18 are not allowed to compete in Cup Series races contested at oval tracks longer than 1.25 miles. Daytona International Speedway is a 2.5-mile (4.023-kilometer) high-banked superspeedway oval.

Fortunately for Garcia, his 18th birthday is the same day as the season’s second race, which is also at an oval longer than 1.25 miles. The 1.5-mile (2.414-kilometer) Las Vegas Motor Speedway is scheduled to host the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 that night, and he is set to compete in it.

The 17-year-old Monroe, Georgia native made five starts with McAnally-Hilgemann Racing behind the wheel of the No. 35 Chevrolet in 2022. He recorded a top finish of 16th place at Phoenix Raceway.

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