Jake Garcia saved his best for the last race of the season and scored a career high second-place finish at Phoenix Raceway on Friday night. The driver of the No. 35 Quanta Services Chevrolet Silverado RST gave MHR a one-two finish as he finished in the runner-up position, 0.421 seconds behind teammate and race winner Christian Eckes. Garcia’s effort in his second Phoenix start resulted in his third top-five finish of the season and gave him nine top-10’s in his rookie campaign. He finished the season 13th in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship standings after starting 22 of the 23 events.
Garcia began the evening in 14th position after showing tremendous race pace in practice on Thursday evening. The Georgian fired off the night with a free balance in his Chevrolet, yet steadily moved forward throughout the race’s first segment. He ran 11th at the end of Stage 1 on lap 45 and came to pit road under the stage caution.
Crew chief Mark Hillman and the Quanta Services squad bolted on four fresh tires and a slight track bar adjustment to add rear security for Garcia. He restarted 10th and quickly made his presence known by advancing to sixth by lap 55. He cracked the top five on lap 66 and took advantage of a caution on lap 77. Hillman and Garcia elected to pit under the yellow flag in order to flip the strategy at the upcoming stage caution. In just eight laps, Garcia advanced from 14th to run ninth at the end of Stage 2 on lap 90.
By staying on track while many of the front runners pitted, Garcia inherited the fourth position for the lap 100 restart. He was a mainstay inside the top five until a caution on lap 116 enticed Garcia and several trucks to take tires with less than 35 laps shy of the scheduled distance. He ascended from 14th by making multiple passes on the outside as a rash of cautions set up frantic restarts. A series of four overtime restarts sent the season finale into a frenzy. Garcia lined up behind teammate Eckes for the final two restarts and took the checkered flag in second place.
Jake Garcia Quote:
“It was a great night to finish our season like this. To finish 1-2 with Christian (Eckes) really shows the strength of our team and everything we’ve worked for all season. We had a really fast Quanta Services Chevrolet and it showed the longer the race ran. All the guys on this team did a great job tonight. We had the right strategy and were able to make the right moves on those restarts to give ourselves a chance to win the race. It’s been a great opportunity to drive these trucks this year and it’s really satisfying to finish the season like this.”
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