This is already the best start to Justin Haley’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career.
It has to be, for one – he wasn’t old enough to compete in last year’s season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
But he certainly made up for that in this year’s race, finishing a career-best second in last weekend’s 2018 season opener behind GMS Racing teammate Johnny Sauter.
“All week everyone had been asking me if I'm nervous running at Daytona or not, but I think the best thing to do is put away the nerves because I just feel like focusing on the task at hand is the best way to win a race,” Haley, 19, said.
“So, you’ve just got to push out all the nerves, and obviously – you know, that was fun racing right there. I don’t know what it looked like, but it was pretty intense for us. We were three wide, which trucks don’t do a lot.
“Overall a pretty good night.”
Haley’s rookie season last year included three top-five, 12 top-10 finishes and one pole in 21 races. He missed two races last year due to the age restriction but still finished 12th in the series standings.
“Being able to run the full season this year, I feel like there’s no reason we shouldn’t be in the Final Four at the end of the year,” Haley said. “I guess we've just got to go to Atlanta next week and try to win that one.”
The series continues on Saturday at Atlanta Motor Speedway, the only other track on which Haley was not allowed to compete last season. However, he earned five top-10 finishes on other similar 1.5-mile tracks last season, including a then series-best finish of third at Kentucky.
“Our mile‑and‑a‑half stuff has been really good, and we tested Charlotte (in January),” Haley said. “The Ilmor motors obviously were really good, so lots of positive from the night to take away.”
While running an almost-entire Truck schedule last season, Haley also competed in two ARCA races, winning two of them – Talladega and Pocono. He also won two NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races in the 2016 season.