Spencer Gallagher is hoping that home is where the win is on Saturday night.
The Las Vegas native will be one of 32 drivers gunning for the checkered flag in the DC Solar 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Gallagher is excited to be back home this week and said earning his first series victory in his hometown race would be a dream come true.
"I get to go play in front of my hometown crowd. What's not to love about that?" said Gallagher, a Palo Verde High School graduate. "Every driver wants to pick up a win in Las Vegas, and for me, to be able to roll into Victory Lane with all my friends and family around, that would just mean the world to me."
The 26-year-old enters Saturday's 146-mile race 12th in the NCWTS points standings on the strength of six top-10 finishes. Gallagher feels good about the strides he has made with his GMS Racing team and its No. 23 Shade Tree/Noah's Animal House Chevrolet.
"I think it's been a huge developmental year at GMS," said Gallagher, who is making his third career start at LVMS. "I think it's been a year of building and establishing our name as one of the top-tier teams and a force to be reckoned with every weekend, and I couldn't be more pleased about that. I think our 23 team has had speed all year long, and it's been wonderful to see what all of our hard work has accomplished."
His best finish at LVMS was 13th in 2014, and Gallagher crossed the line 15th a year ago when John Wes Townley took the checkered flag. Gallagher said the key to success at the 1.5-mile oval is staying in the hunt until the final few laps.
"Usually, the race is won by the guys with the fastest trucks," Gallagher said. "The key, I think, to Vegas is really having a setup that can handle the bumps and not have the tires fall off over a long race. Fuel mileage comes into play later in the race, but who wins and loses is going to be decided by who can get around this rough, big, fast oval the fastest in a three-lap shootout."
Gallagher has also made six starts in the NASCAR Xfinity Series this season and earned a top-10 finish at Daytona International Speedway. He is open to what the future may hold for him in that series.
"It's definitely an idea that would be great for the progression of GMS Racing and myself," he said. "We'll see how it plays out getting a deal together by the end of this year, but we've had some pretty good success in our first six starts. I think we've been building ourselves a very competitive out-of-the-box program, and I'm looking forward to it leading to more possibilities in the next year."
Gallagher's No. 23 truck will be clad in a black-and-purple paint scheme promoting the Get On Track To End Domestic Violence campaign he and the other GMS Racing drivers are supporting in October. The Las Vegas-based Shade Tree shelter for women and children and the National Domestic Violence Hotline are part of his specific focus.
"It's a great cause to be working with," Gallagher said. "The Shade Tree, in and of itself, is a wonderful organization that's been operating for more than 25 years in Las Vegas. It really is an institution of the valley, and it's great to be able to go out there with them and the National Domestic Violence Hotline on the side of the truck."
Gallagher will be one of several drivers participating in an autograph session in the LVMS Fan Engagement Area from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Pacific Time, giving fans attending the day's "350 Fest" a chance to get up close and personal with the NCWTS stars.
The DC Solar 350's green flag drops at 5:30 p.m., and fireworks will follow immediately after the checkered flag is waved at the conclusion of the 219-mile race. Practice sessions are scheduled for 8:30-9:30 a.m. and 10-11 a.m., and qualifying begins at 3:10 p.m.
Race tickets are available online at LVMS.com or by calling 1-800-644-4444. All ticket buyers will have free access to the Neon Garage throughout the course of race day, and children 12 and under get a free general admission ticket when accompanying a paid adult.