Season in Review: Home Tracks

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Old 02 Dec 2019, 07:20 pm   #1 (permalink)
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Default Season in Review: Home Tracks

Leading that charge was 19-year-old Christian Eckes. The Toyota Racing development driver’s season struggled initially. After missing the third race of the season due to illness, Eckes was involved in an accident at Talladega Superspeedway, which forced the young driver to climb out of a huge points hole. He did just that – starting with the very next race. Eckes led over half of the laps at Nashville Speedway en route to his first victory of the season. However, the close of the season was the most impressive. Eckes ended the year with seven straight top-two finishes, including a win in the season finale at Kansas Speedway. The win allowed him to squeeze past his teammate, Michael Self, to earn the 2019 driver title – the first for Venturini Motorsports since 1991. Although Self’s season ended just short of his ultimate goal, it was still an outstanding run. He took the championship lead after a win in the second race of the season at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Florida and held it for the majority of the season. He would add three additional wins, including a last-lap pass at Michigan International Speedway. There were additional great moments for Toyota throughout the season. Truck Series regulars, Harrison Burton and Todd Gilliland, swept the superspeedway events at Daytona and Talladega, while 17-year-old Chandler Smith continued his incredible run of early career success with a series-leading five wins in only 11 starts, including his final race of the season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The remainder of the wins belonged to Ty Gibbs, who drove to his first career ARCA win in front of his grandfather – Joe Gibbs – at Gateway Motorsports Park. He added another win in Salem, Indiana in September.

All of that winning ensured a third consecutive ARCA Menards Series manufacturer’s title for Toyota, its fourth overall.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series West
It was a banner year for 18-year-old Derek Kraus and Bill McAnally Racing (BMR) in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Kraus took the points lead with his first wins of the season – a pair of victories at Tucson Speedway, which was the third stop of the year, and never looked back. Kraus scored top-10 finishes in 13 of the 14 events and tallied a series leading five total wins. With an average finish of fourth, Kraus just had to start the season finale in Phoenix to score the championship. For BMR, it continued a run of success as Kraus delivered the fourth championship for the team in the past five seasons. However, Kraus wasn’t the only success story for the team. Hailie Deegan started the season with a last-lap pass for the win at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway Dirt Track, making Deegan the first female to lead the point standings in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series. She added a second win at Colorado National Speedway in June. Fellow BMR teammate, Brittney Zamora, made her rookie debut in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West with six top-five and 10 top-finishes. The Washington native also captured two pole awards, starting first at Tucson Speedway and her home track, Evergreen Speedway. Closing out the season-long success for Toyota in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West was another victory for Ty Gibbs. In his series debut at ISM Raceway, Gibbs drove from the back of the field to take the lead from his teammate Riley Herbst with 38 laps to go to score the win. With the victory, Gibbs was the only driver to score wins in all three developmental series this season.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Although a title was not in the cards for Toyota in the K&N Pro Series East this season, Camry drivers scored wins in over half of the season’s races. At the beginning of the season, Kraus was as dominate in the East side as he was in the West with two wins in the first four races of the year. Former NHRA champion Tanner Gray also started early as he scored his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at South Boston Speedway in May. In his third season for Rev Racing, Chase Cabre had a breakthrough as he won his first two races in back-to-back fashion at Memphis International Speedway and New Hampshire Motor Speedway in June. Cabre would be the highest-finishing Toyota driver in the standings as he finished the year in second. Two more first-time victors – Max McLaughlin and Ty Gibbs – finished the winning for Toyota this season. McLaughlin started from the pole and led every lap on his way to Victory Lane at Watkins Glen, while Gibbs continued his run of success with a victory at the second event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.



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