Race Weekend Central

Truckin’ Thursdays: A Trio of Debuting Drivers at Talladega

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This weekend, the Camping World Truck Series heads off to Talladega Superspeedway for the race that probably has the largest red circle on the calendar for championship contenders. Their goal will likely be to survive any carnage and finish the race without taking too much of a hit in the standings. But a trio of drivers in particular will be looking to impress in their Truck Series debuts. Milka Duno, Daniel Suarez and Cody Ware are all set to make their debuts on Saturday afternoon, and with an entry list that has 37 trucks on it, the trio will be required to make the field on speed.

Milka Duno made history a couple weeks ago at Kansas Speedway when she became the first Hispanic female to start a race in one of NASCAR’s top three series. Unfortunately, she only got a couple laps on the track before she spun and backed her car into the outside wall, ending her debut with a disappointing 40th-place finish.

(Credit: CIA Stock Photography)
Young Cody Ware (left) will be one of three racing talents making their Truck Series debut this weekend. (Credit: CIA Stock Photography)

“What I think is that I was in the outside line, and I lost a little downforce on the back and then I lost it into the wall,” she said after the wreck. “It was so bad because even with just a few laps, I was having a good race and passing cars outside. I was feeling a little more confident, I think, and then I lost the car.”

Assuming she makes the field, Duno will get another shot at NASCAR when she pilots the No. 1 Chevrolet this weekend. The 42-year-old Venezuelan has a storied racing background, including IndyCar, the American Le Mans Series, the Rolex Grand-Am Sports Car Series, the ARCA Racing Series and a single start in the K&N Pro Series East.

Meanwhile, Win-Tron Racing announced late last week that Daniel Suarez, who will race full time for Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series and part-time with Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series next year, will make his series debut with the organization, piloting the No. 35 ARRIS Toyota.

“This is a big opportunity for us at Win-Tron Racing,” Win-Tron co-owner Kevin Cywinski said. “Daniel is a talented racecar driver and obviously a future superstar in this sport. We’re honored to host him for his truck debut. We’ve been working extremely hard on the No. 35 ARRIS Toyota Tundra the past few weeks and we can’t wait to unload it next week and see what Daniel can do.”

Nate Thiesse, Cywinski’s partner at Win-Tron shared the enthusiasm.

“We’re ecstatic to establish this partnership with Daniel (Suarez) and Joe Gibbs Racing for Talladega,” said Win-Tron Racing co-owner Nate Thiesse. “Daniel firmly represents everything that Win-Tron Racing is made of and we feel that he’ll excel in his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut.”

The NASCAR Next driver won the first two K&N Pro Series East events earlier this season. Suarez also made his Nationwide Series debut at Richmond International Raceway in late April. He started 12th and finished a solid 19th. Just a few weeks ago, the 22-year-old posted a 15th-place finished at Chicagoland Speedway. It’s clear to see he’s on the right path in his career, and the extra experience should prove beneficial.

Here’s a look at Suarez’s truck for Talladega.

Last but not least, Cody Ware will make his debut with his family team, Rick Ware Racing. The 18-year-old will pilot the No. 5 Chevrolet with sponsorship from QOLIX, “a web-based Patient-Reported Outcomes (PRO) monitoring system that integrates newly-developed generic and condition specific PRO measures to improve the comprehensiveness and efficiency of measurement in comparison with familiar legacy PROs.

“Man, words cannot describe how I’m feeling about making my NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Talladega. We’ve been trying to put this opportunity together for a couple weeks and we weren’t real sure if we would be able to pull it off. But we did and we’re going to Talladega,” Ware said in a team release. “We’re going to finish and get experience but we’d be ecstatic with a top-10 finish. The field is bound to be competitive, so we just need to make sure we do out best to get our No. 5 QOLIX Chevrolet handling good, so when the race starts, we can stay in the draft and hope for the best.”

The third-generation driver has four Nationwide Series starts to his name, including a best finish of 15th in his series debut at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in mid-August. He’s also run three Whelen Southern Modified Tour races where he finished no worse than 20th, despite crashing out in two of those events. This season, Ware has been competing in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Series.

Here’s a look at Ware’s truck for this weekend.

While I’m sure this trio of debuting drivers would love nothing more than to make a major splash by stealing a victory on Saturday afternoon, the key for all three is the seat time. Talladega can be a very treacherous track that will snag its victims in the blink of an eye, and finishing the race without tearing up their trucks can be considered successful for Duno, Suarez and Ware this weekend.

About the author

Content Director Beth heads up management of our 30-person staff, acting as Tom’s main assistant with technology and personnel while working as Frontstretch’s Truck Series expert. The author of Truckin’ Thursdays and the coordinator of the site’s pre and post-race coverage, she also runs a periodic charity column that spotlights when NASCAR gives back. A childhood transplant to Texas, Beth is a 15-year writing veteran who has contributed content to BRANDT and Athlon Sports, among other outlets.

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