Jimmy Weller and the No. 08 Engine Parts Plus / Genmak Geneva-Liberty Steel Chevrolet Silverado team recorded a top-10 finish in the season opening NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway on Friday evening. Weller spent most of the race near the back of the pack to allow the drama to unfold before he made his move. When a large wreck unfolded on the backstretch with just 25 laps remaining, Weller was able to drive through the carnage and into the top 15. Despite contact on the final lap that turned Weller sideways crossing the finish line and ultimately spinning through the infield grass, the rookie contender was able to bring home a top-10 finish in his first start at the historic superspeedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Following a week with perfect weather, rain showers plagued the area on Friday afternoon cancelling qualifying and delaying the start of the NextEra Energy Resources 250. The 36-truck field for the season-opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event was set by the series rulebook, and based off of combined practice speeds from three practices earlier in the week. As a result, Weller rolled off 30th for the 100-lap event. Already near the back of the pack, Weller and his SS Green Light Racing team decided to ride around in the back of the field and let the race unfold before making their move.
Weller's push-to-talk button failed prior to the start of the race, inhibiting his ability to talk with the crew. Able to hear everything that was said, but unable to respond, the race strategy fell heavily on crew chief Jason Miller and spotter Rocky Ryan, who needed to determine what would help the car based on what they could see. After diagnosing a tight condition, which was confirmed by Weller via hand signals during a pit stop, Miller called for slight air pressure and chassis adjustments during stops on pit road.
With just 30 laps remaining in the event, Weller was riding in the 32nd position near the back of the second pack. However, when a 13-car accident broke out in the lead pack, Weller's track position proved to be extremely beneficial as he was able to watch the accident play out and react accordingly to avoid any damage. As cars were cleared and the race returned to green flag conditions, the No. 08 Engine Parts Plus / Genmak Geneva-Liberty Steel Chevrolet Silverado was scored in the 10th position to restart the event. The rookie driver was able to navigate the track like a veteran holding a steady pedal and holding his position in line. Entering the tri-oval on the final lap, contact with another truck turned Weller's truck sideways as he crossed the finish line. Despite that, Weller and the Engine Parts Plus / Genmak Geneva-Liberty Steel Chevrolet team was scored with a ninth-place finish.
"I'm so proud of the effort by our Engine Parts Plus / Genmak Geneva-Liberty Steel Chevrolet Silverado team," commented Weller. "We had a great truck all week, and the guys were great about giving me the advice and information I needed to be successful in my first race at Daytona. We had a bit of adversity with our push-to-talk malfunctioning during the race, but everyone stayed calm and we did what we needed to do. To have such a strong run right out the box gives us great momentum going into the rest of the season. I'm really excited to be teamed up with SS Green Light Racing throughout this season."