One year ago, Natalie Decker‘s race at Daytona was over at the end of the first lap. On Friday, she made history by becoming the first female to score a top-five finish in Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series history.
Decker began the NextEra Energy 250 from 30th position, riding around for much of the race. Most of the night, the No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet wasn’t even in the lead draft.
With 35 laps to go, there was a wreck involving Angela Ruch, Bryan Dauzat, Tate Fogleman and Christian Eckes. While Decker was riding behind the crash, she ran over some debris, flattening a few of her tires.
However, on a green-white-checkered finish, Decker restarted inside the top 10 after an incident on lap 97 took out many of the top contenders. On the final lap, all hell broke loose and Decker found herself rounding out the top five, only behind Grant Enfinger, Jordan Anderson, Codie Rohrbaugh and Derek Kraus.
“It’s amazing, I’m so thankful. N29 has been with me since the beginning,” Decker said following the race. “I’m so happy that I got to have my best finish here with Niece and that’s just so wonderful.
“We were riding around in the back but that was [Niece’s] plan and I just had to, ride but it was so worth it those last two laps, being able to race up front there and get a good finish.”
In her rookie campaign last season, Decker had a best result of 14th in 19 races for DGR-Crosley Racing. For many fans she was a laughing stock, always wondering when the No. 54 would wreck in a given race.
While all eight of her DNFs weren’t of her own doing, she joined Niece Motorsports following the 2019 season for just eight scheduled races this year.
But even more so, the fifth-place finish is the best finish by a female in Truck history. Jennifer Jo Cobb previously held that title with a sixth at Daytona in 2011. It isn’t, however, the best finish by a woman among the top three national touring divisions of NASCAR, as Danica Patrick holds that position due to a fourth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011.
Decker will take the fifth-place finish and move onto Las Vegas Motor Speedway next weekend, where it will be her last time in the No. 44 truck until the end of May at Kansas Speedway.