On Tuesday, McAnally-Hilgemann Racing officially solidified its two-truck lineup for the 2023 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, at the Chevrolet Performance Technical Center in Concord, North Carolina.
Christian Eckes and Jake Garcia have been named the two drivers for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing’s program in 2023, with the team electing to clean house and replace both Derek Kraus and Colby Howard, who ran the team’s two entries in 2022.
“I’m ecstatic to get the season started”, McAnally said. “We have a lot to be optimistic about with bringing Christian (Eckes) into our program and Jake (Garcia) 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.”
Christian Eckes will migrate to McAnally-Hilgemann Racing in 2023 from ThorSport Racing, where the Middletown, New York native has spent his last two seasons in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.
NAPA, a long-time partner of Bill McAnally’s racing efforts in the NASCAR Truck Series and ARCA Menards Series, has signed a multi-year contract extension with McAnally Hilgemann Racing, which will see its brands adorn both the No. 19 and No. 35 in 2023.
NAPA Auto Care will serve as a primary partner of Christian Eckes’ No. 19 Chevrolet Silverado, while Adaptive One Calipers will adorn Garcia’s No. 35 Chevrolet Silverado in multiple NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series events in 2023.
“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. To be part of the long-standing partnership with NAPA Racing, NAPA Auto Care, and MHR is an honor and I’m fully prepared to take full advantage of this great opportunity. 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.”
Picking up his maiden NASCAR Truck Series victory during a part-time season in 2021, Eckes has continually been a threat for victories and top-five finishes throughout his 68 starts in the series, dating back to his time with Kyle Busch Motorsports, which began in 2018.
Meanwhile, the organization’s second entry will be given a rebrand for the 2023 NASCAR Truck Series season, as Jake Garcia, a well-known standout in the Late Model ranks, will drive full-time in the No. 35 Adaptive One Calipers Chevrolet Silverado.
Garcia competed in five NASCAR Truck Series events in a third entry for McAnally-Hilgemann Racing in 2022, where he scored a pair of top-20 results, including a career-best 16th-place finish in the season-finale at Phoenix Raceway.
The Monroe, Georgia-native will be ineligible to compete in the series’ first event at Daytona International Speedway, as he won’t turn 18 years old until the beginning of March.
“To have the chance to race full-time at this level is very special to me and my family”, Garcia said. “Having the support of Adaptive One, Chevrolet, and everyone at MHR is extremely exciting. 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 are a lot of details and situations I need to experience, and hopefully, we can learn each week and consistently improve throughout the year. There are 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.”
In a press conference on Tuesday, team owner Bill McAnally said that the organization has not officially settled on a driver for the first race of the season, but is in talks with several competitors to compete at Daytona on February 17.
The team’s crew chief lineup will be announced at a later date.