CTS: Nick Sanchez scores victory in Fresh From Florida 250 after last lap chaos ensues

The season opening event for the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series would get underway Friday night under the lights of Daytona with a battle between Ty Majeski starting on the pole and Johnny Sauter who moved over the Niece Motorsports for the 2024 campaign starting on the outside.

Sauter and Majeski would trade the lead over the first couple of laps before Sauter would shoot out of cannon down the back to finally clear away from Majeski. However, Sauter’s teammate Matt Mills would sustain damage causing the high side line to begin to fall back to the leaders before Mills would be hung out to dry.

However, chaos would strike on lap six when Crafton would get loose after the field would stack up pushing him down the track and washing back up collecting 12 other trucks in the process including Ty Dillon who moved to Rackley W.A.R. and Thad Moffitt a driving for Faction46 a new team this year both sustaining damage that would end their night early for the two teams.

Riggs, who also sustained damage in the melee would continue to work on the truck going back out failing to meet minimum speed and sending the new driver for Front Row Motorsports to the garage early after completing only 13 laps.

Stage one would finally come to a close with Sauter taking home the first stage win of the season over Currey, Majeski, Ankrum, and Tay. Gray.

Stage two would get underway with Ankrum taking control of the race as the high side would attempt a comeback, first with Nick Sanchez trying to move the line forward before LaJoie would jump in front from the low side.

Finally, Rhodes who had started in the back due to changes made to the truck during impound would finally get back to Ankrum just as Friesen would blow a tire leaving debris on the track bringing out the fourth caution of the night.

Rain would rear its head for the first time of the weekend with a few sprinkles under the caution but wouldn’t affect the track.

Stage two would end under caution as rain would pick up around the track before pouring in turn two and down the back. Ankrum would take home the stage win over Eckes, Crafton, Dye and Rhodes.

After a seven-minute red flag to dry a couple spots on the track, trucks would roll back out to get stage three underway.

Caution would come out once again for Keith McGee bringing out his second caution of the night when he would get loose off turn four spinning through infield. This time sustaining terminal damage to his truck ending his night.

On the restart Brent Holmes would take control over the race with challenges from LaJoie who tried to form a third line up before getting sucked through the middle line stalling out his run. Holmes would continue to lead until breaking loose off turn four spinning off the track but keeping it off the wall.

The eight caution of the night would come out when Rhodes would blow a tire and come to pit road changing the tire, going back out on track before a second tire would go down just as the field would swallow him up causing Rhodes to make contact with Tanner Gray and Toni Breidinger both would sustain slight damage with Gray having to make a trip to pit road.

Rhodes would drive his truck back to his box as the team would change the tires and work on the truck would exit and end his night.

The final restart of the night would come with two to go with Sanchez leading the way with help once again from LaJoie who had been up front and helping push trucks to the lead. Sanchez would take the white flag with Jack Wood to the outside trying to run down Sanchez for the lead.

Wood would get turned by Caruth sending him down the track into the path of Taylor Gray hooking the No. 17 hard and back up the track. Gray would run straight into the path of the field flipping over several trucks before coming to a rest.

“I feel pretty bad about the backstretch there. Corey was doing a great job pushing, and you hate to see trucks get torn up like that. Sucks to be that close, but definitely happy for Nick. He’s been deserving for a long time, and great for the company.” Said Caruth

Gray would exit the truck walking around and obviously frustrated at the ending to his night on the last lap.

“I watched the replay. I like Rajah (Caruth) a lot. I don’t know what he was doing. If you look at the replay, there is no hole to get in. The 91 (Jack Wood) is still at his right front. I don’t know if he is trying to stall a lane and just misjudged it. He just got the 91 in the left rear, and you saw it from there. I don’t know who hit me to flip me over like that.” Said Gray

“I think you are just happy to not get in the catchfence, honestly, at that point. I think when you are upside down you are just waiting to get up in the catchfence, so when you get back on four wheels, you are like thank goodness. I didn’t get up in the catchfence. The catchfence makes things a lot worse. It’s really not that bad. There’s been worse. I didn’t see the full flip, but I don’t think mine was that bad.” Continued Gray

Sanchez would come out victorious when NASCAR would throw the caution to end the race a half-lap from the checkered flag.

“It was definitely a pretty wild race, obviously, what happened to us earlier kind of set the tone for us. But right there was just classical Daytona, overtime, restarts, the odds of us finishing under green weren’t really well, so I knew I was pretty much going to have to take the lead on the white flag and hope they wrecked.” Said Sanchez

“Obviously been so close so many times that they probably didn’t want to get their hopes up. I’m going to be honest, I kept telling myself I wasn’t going to win it at the end because in my head I wasn’t, and it worked.

I think they’re definitely going to enjoy it. It’s kind of like — kind of feels like home for them, and my parents and grandparents are here. I think they’re going to enjoy it a good bit.” Continued Sanchez

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series now moves onto Atlanta Motor Speedway next Saturday, February 24 at 2:00 p.m. ET on FS1.