Jake Garcia battled through a shock issue and came back from a three-lap deficit for a lead lap finish in 18th position in his home race at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) on Saturday afternoon. The driver of the No. 35 Quanta Services Chevrolet Silverado RST remains 17th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) championship standings after two starts in 2023.
Inclement weather forced the cancellation of qualifying on Friday, which placed Garcia 12th on the starting grid per the rulebook. Garcia didn’t skip a beat from his 10th-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, as he quickly joined the top-10 in the opening laps. As the majority of the field paced the first stage in single-file formation, Garcia held the eighth position for the bulk of the first 30-lap segment. After briefly being shuffled to 12th, Garcia took advantage of a one-lap dash to finish Stage 1 and collected one point in 10th position at lap 30.
Crew chief Mark Hillman brought Garcia in for left side tires and fuel under the stage break but discovered an issue with the left rear shock. The Georgian took the green flag in Stage 2 from 22nd on lap 38, but quickly pitted under a subsequent caution on lap 39 to troubleshoot the issue. Garcia lost a lap during the repair, but was also nabbed with a pit road speeding penalty, which trapped him three laps down to the leader.
A caution on lap 84 allowed Garcia to “wave by” the pace car and regain one of his laps. Two cautions in the final 20 laps allowed Garcia to earn the Lucky Dog and rejoin the lead lap. He restarted outside the top-20 as the race went to overtime, but took advantage of the afternoon's final chaotic restart and avoided a multi-truck accident on the final lap to salvage an 18th-place result.
Jake Garcia Quote:
“I’m proud of our team for sticking with it and taking advantage of the wave around and putting ourselves in position to get back on the lead lap at the end. We had a fast Quanta Services Chevrolet today and felt good about our speed during the first stage running inside the top-10. We had an issue with the left rear shock and lost some laps, plus got caught speeding on pit road. Our trucks are fast, and that’s the main thing. Hopefully we can keep that going next week at COTA and score some more points there. Big congratulations to my teammate Christian (Eckes) on the win. That’s big for the whole the whole team and everyone involved with MHR.”