Jake Garcia was supposed to run the full 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule in the #35 Chevrolet Silverado RST for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, but it only would have happened had he been born a month sooner. As he will only turn eighteen in March, he is not yet approved for larger tracks like the season-opening Daytona International Speedway.
All of that said, MHR has a more-than-capable fallback plan for Daytona as 2020 Cup Series champion Chase Elliott will fill in. Elliott and MHR co-owner Bill McAnally both have close partnerships with NAPA Auto Parts, though Gates Hydraulics will sponsor Elliott’s #35.
Garcia will return for the second race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, coincidentally on his eighteenth birthday on 3 March.
“This will be the first time I’ve driven a truck at Daytona, let alone a superspeedway,” said Elliott. “There’s no better team owner than Bill McAnally to do it with, as he’s been involved in racing and been associated with NAPA for a long time.”
Despite making his national series début in a truck in 2013, Elliott’s Truck Series experience is scant as he went directly into the now-Xfinity Series the following year after running just nine races. He sporadically returned to the Trucks over the next decade, with three wins in seventeen career starts. His most recent triumph came at Charlotte in 2020 as part of a “bounty hunting” programme in which a Cup driver who defeated Kyle Busch—then on a seven-Truck race win streak—in a Truck event.
Elliott’s lone Truck start in 2022 was a seventh in the Bristol Dirt Race for Spire Motorsports, for whom many of his Hendrick Motorsports Cup team-mates also ran.
“I think there’s an incredible amount of potential for our team to make a lot of noise this year, and we have the people to make it happen,” added McAnally. “We’re thrilled to have Chase step in and drive our #35 Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet at Daytona and everyone involved in our programme is excited and glad that he’s able to do so. I think his presence at Daytona will benefit Jake and our entire group.”