According to a press release, Elliott will make his 18th career start in the Craftsman Truck Series. He will join McAnally Hilgemann Racing for the NextEra Energy 250. He will drive the No. 35 Gates Hydraulics / NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST while becoming teammates with former ThorSport Racing driver Christian Eckes.
“This will be the first time I’ve driven a truck at Daytona, let alone a superspeedway,” Elliott said in a press release. “There’s no better team owner than Bill McAnally to do it with, as he’s been involved in racing and been associated with NAPA for a long time.”
Elliott will work with Mark Hillman, who makes his return to the pit box for the third consecutive year. He previously worked with both Derek Kraus and Colby Howard and guided them to a combined six top-10 finishes and one top-five. Hillman also helped Kraus win the pole two times.
Elliott Replaces Another MHR Driver for 1 Start
Why would Elliott pull double duty the week of the sport’s biggest race? In this case, he is replacing another driver that is not eligible to race at Daytona International Speedway. Jake Garcia will not turn 18 until the trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway, so Elliott will take over the No. 35.
The reigning Most Popular Driver doesn’t traditionally compete in other national NASCAR series, at least as much as his peers. Unique circumstances are usually the exception. For example, his last Truck Series start took place at Bristol Motor Speedway (dirt) as he prepare for the Cup Series race.
Another example is the 2020 race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Elliott returned to the Truck Series after Kevin Harvick and Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis put up a combined $100,000, which would go to anyone that could beat Kyle Busch head-to-head. Though the money ultimately went to a COVID-19 charity.
MHR Made Another Crew Chief Announcement
The press release announced that Elliott will make one start for MHR to kick off the 2023 Truck Series season. It also named the crew chiefs that will guide the two trucks as multiple drivers battle for wins.
Elliott and Garcia will both work with Hillman during the 2023 season. Meanwhile, Charles Denike will return to the No. 19 team after joining midway through the 2022 season. He used this limited schedule to guide Kraus to three top-10 finishes and one pole award.
Denike has been atop the pit box for 66 Craftsman Truck Series races, and he has worked with a variety of drivers. Denike has two career wins in the series. He was atop the GMS Racing pit box when Elliott won at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He also guided Sam Mayer to a win at Bristol Motor Speedway later in 2020.
“Mark and Charles had good seasons last year and are motivated to elevate the performance of both teams,” McAnally said in a press release. “Having Chad come on board is a good boost for us also.
“He’s been around the Chevrolet team, has crew chief experience, and worked with Jake last season. I feel like we have a lot of talented people in our team, and we’re looking forward to putting it all together in our 33rd season with NAPA and NAPA Auto Care.”