King’s best finish in seven previous starts in the Truck Series was 15th.
Team owner Tom DeLoach surrounded King with series veterans, hoping for the best.
“We kind of put a big warm blanket around John and tried to maximize his ability,” DeLoach said. “Folks, you see what happened tonight.”
Truck racing at Daytona usually involves wild wrecks and can be anyone’s race to win, and this one was no exception.
Paludo was running third when he just lost control of his truck. He turned left and slammed into the inside retaining wall head on _ a violent crash that caused his truck to spin like an out-of-control helicopter. All four tires left the ground and the engine caught fire before Paludo eventually came to a stop.
He climbed out a few seconds later and was unharmed.
“It was a hard hit for sure,” Paludo said. “I lost my breath.”
The drivers raced three wide early on, and not surprisingly, didn’t make it 20 laps without an accident.
On lap 19, rookie Paulie Harraka lost control in turn four, made contact with Chris Cockrum and then slammed Jason Leffler into the outside wall. Leffler’s truck was totaled, taking out one of the favorites in the 36-truck field. Rookie Dakoda Armstrong also was collected in the wreck that prompted several drivers to turn down pit road to avoid the mess.
“It’s a bummer,” said Leffler, who finished last.
Another rookie, Cale Gale, was caught up in a wreck on lap 62.
Gale was running in the middle of a three-wide pack when TJ Duke moved up the track and caused Gale to hit the wall. Series veterans Matt Crafton and Mike Skinner also were involved.
“You can’t teach patience,” said Skinner, the 1995 series champion.