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Jim Utter

Garcia, Eckes land 2023 NASCAR Truck rides with MHR

Eckes, who has advanced to the Truck Series playoffs twice, will drive MHR’s No. 19 Chevrolet, sponsored by NAPA Auto Care. Garcia, a native of Monroe, Ga., will compete fulltime in the No. 35 Chevy sponsored by Adaptive One beginning with the March 3 race at Las Vegas. He turns 18 years old that day.

Eckes replaces Derek Kraus in the No. 19.

“I’m ecstatic to get the season started,” said team co-owner Bill McAnally. “We have a lot to be optimistic about bringing Christian into our program and Jake having his first full-time opportunity.

“We’ve enjoyed a tremendous relationship with NAPA and NAPA Auto Care and going into our 33rd year together is incredibly special. I’m excited about Christian’s experience and the potential Jake has to elevate our program and our partners.”

Eckes, 22, finished eighth in the series standings in 2022 while driving for ThorSport Racing.

“It’s a true pleasure for me to be a part of MHR, the NAPA Racing family, and to contribute to growing this program into a championship-caliber organization,” Eckes said. “That’s what Bill, the team, and I have set out to achieve and I believe he has assembled a group that can make that goal a reality.

“I’m more motivated than ever to produce results with this team and ready to get to work with everyone at MHR for 2023 and beyond.”

Garcia, 17, is a former track champion at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., and became the youngest Southern Super Series champion in the tour’s history. He made five Truck Series starts in 2022 and will compete for rookie-of-the-year honors in 2023.

“To have the chance to race fulltime at this level is very special to me and my family,” Garcia said. “This is a huge opportunity for me, and I wish we could start the season tomorrow.

“Coming from super late models to the Craftsman Truck Series, there’s a lot of details and situations I need to experience, and hopefully we can learn each week and consistently improve throughout the year.

“There’s a ton of sharp people and valuable resources at MHR and Chevrolet to learn from, and I’m excited to take advantage of those and be a teammate with Christian.”

MHR will announce a driver for the No. 35 entry for the season opener at Daytona at a later date.

Derek Kraus, McAnally Hilgemann Racing, NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado (Photo by: Jasen Vinlove / NKP / Motorsport Images)
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