DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 16: Nick Sanchez, driver of the #2 Gainbridge Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Fresh from Florida 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images
DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 16: Nick Sanchez, driver of the #2 Gainbridge Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Fresh from Florida 250 at Daytona International Speedway on February 16, 2024 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) | Getty Images

Nick Sanchez scores first victory in wild NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck race

With cars wrecking and flipping behind him in overtime, Nick Sanchez claimed the first NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series victory of his career in Friday night’s Fresh From Florida 250 at Daytona International Speedway.

The race ended under caution on the second lap of the overtime after Rajah Caruth, running fourth, moved up the track and turned the No. 91 Chevrolet of Jack Wood in front of the field.

Sanchez and runner-up Corey Heim were clear of the chaos, and Caruth escaped with minimal damage to run third. But behind them, the Chevy of Daniel Dye launched the Toyota of Taylor Gray, which flipped in mid-air and landed upright on its tires in a gaggle of mangled cars.

All told 12 trucks were involved in the wreck, which caused the record 12th caution of the evening.

Coincidentally, Sanchez rallied from a 13-truck crash on Lap 6 to score the victory for his No. 2 Rev Racing Chevrolet team in his sophomore season.

“It’s huge,” Sanchez said. “We spent all of last year trying to get a win. I knew coming into this year I knew that I had to, right? What better race than to do it than Daytona? Honestly, out of every race, if I was going to do it, this would have been the last one (I expected), but happy to do it. It’s awesome.

“I just knew I had to lead at the white flag, because they were probably going to wreck. I’m glad they wrecked — if everyone is OK. I’m just happy.

“It’s huge. Obviously, we have a new technical partner in Spire (Motorsports)—our first race with them. What a better way to start a partnership. (Sponsor) Gainbridge has stuck with me. They were winless last year. They all deserve it, and they’re going to celebrate with me.”

Caruth was thankful for his third-place finish, but he rued the wreck that ended the race.

“I’m trying to play it back differently in the last laps, but thank you to everybody at Spire Motorsports, HendrickCars.com, the Hendrick Automotive Group, and Mr. H (Hendrick) for what they’ve done for me along with everybody at Spire and Chevy,” Carruth said.

“Man, I felt like I got a bad push there, and you’re already getting tight off of the corner, and everybody is going for all they have on the last lap. I feel terrible to see trucks like that torn up. I hope Taylor (Gray) is all right. But a good night to start the year.”

Fifty-one of the 101 laps were run under caution, and it didn’t take long for the action to start. The first major incident KO’d a handful of drivers.

On the backstretch on Lap 6 of a scheduled 100 circuits, a shove from Christian Eckes’ Chevrolet turned the Ford of three-time series champion Matt Crafton into the Ford of Layne Riggs, igniting a 13-truck accident that eliminated Ty Dillon, Thad Moffitt and Jake Garcia.

With his team unable to effect repairs on his No. 38 Ford F-150, Riggs took his Truck to the garage under caution on Lap 17.

“Chaos, a lot of craziness — everybody was just kind of all over the place,” Dillon said after a mandatory trip to the infield care center. “I’ve never seen anything look like that from behind the wheel four laps into a race.

“With my experience, I knew something like that was going to happen. That’s why I got myself to the bottom to hopefully have a spot to bail. And sure enough, it happened. I thought I got through… I hit the grass and it knocked the tires out of my hand, and I was trying to catch it with the throttle…

“Just hate to be taken out so early and not have a chance.”

The Lap 6 incident was a harbinger of the chaos to come.

Defending series champion Ben Rhodes saw a good night turn bad when Tyler Ankrum door-slammed his Ford on Lap 68. Rhodes pitted with a flat tire a lap later, but after leaving the pits, he spun and crashed as the lead packed tried to dodge the No. 99 Ford in the center of the track.

Rhodes exited the race, and soon after, Johhny Sauter was an innocent victim of a four-truck wreck off Turn 4—after leading 24 laps, second only to Sanchez’s 26.

Bret Holmes finished fourth, followed by Spencer Boyd. Stefan Parsons, Crafton, Timmy Hill, Bryan Dauzat and Eckes completed the top 10.

–NASCAR Wire Service —

See race details at: Race Results, Driver Point Standings, Owner Point Standings, Cumulative Report, Penalty Report

See more information on the Daytona Race Page.