eNASCAR Standout Vicente Salas Readies for NASCAR Truck Debut at COTA

In just a few short years of racing, both in the real world and the virtual one, Temecula, CA’s Vicente Salas has accomplished more than some drivers do with years to spare. In sim racing, you’ve seen him take victories in many of iRacing’s top pro series, including a dominant eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series victory at Richmond Raceway in 2021 where he led every single lap. In the real world, he worked his way up from karting, making his CARS Tour debut two years ago and earning his first NASCAR Advance Auto Parts Weekly Series win at Hickory Speedway last season.

This weekend, Salas becomes the latest driver to go from sim to reality when he makes his NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut with Young’s Motorsports at Circuit of the Americas. Before stepping into the driver’s seat, he took some time to tell us about how the deal came together, how he’s using iRacing to prepare, what it’s been like to represent racing legend Tony Kanaan in eNASCAR this year, and what to expect from him in the future:

Q: How did the opportunity to make your NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series debut with Young’s Motorsports this weekend come together?

A: After racing shifter karts, eNASCAR, and Late Models, I knew it was time to look for the next step. Tyler Young runs a great operation at Young’s Motorsports and after speaking with him it kind of all just came to fruition! We worked really hard as a team to find the funding to run this race. Between my partners, family, and myself we all worked hard to make it happen! I’m just grateful for the opportunity and hope to gain valuable experience while making everyone proud.

Q: What makes Circuit of the Americas the ideal track for you to make your series debut on?

A: With my background in shifter karts I think a road course just made the most sense. It’s a big circuit which allows space for learning and growing my knowledge on a big track in a truck!

Q: How much have you been using iRacing to prepare for this weekend? What are some of the key parts of a lap at COTA that you’ve been focusing on?

A: iRacing has been an awesome tool for me to utilize in preparation for COTA. It has allowed me to practice braking and throttle markers while trying to maintain consistent lap time. Your mentality and focus is huge in racing, and iRacing has been a key tool to hone those in as well.

Q: You’ve got a very diverse racing background, both in the real world (CARS Tour, karting) and the virtual one (multiple iRacing pro series including eNASCAR). How does that adaptability give you an advantage on a track like COTA that has so many unique challenges?

A: I started racing at age 15, which is much later than most professional race car drivers. Making the jump from shifter karts to late models was definitely a difficult one. The eNASCAR Coca-Cola iRacing Series helped me be prepared for real world scenarios and sensations, considering I’d never stepped in a full body stock car before I qualified for the series! Looking back on it now, with all the different categories of racing I’ve been blessed to compete in real world racing as well as sim, I think it’ll be a massive help allowing me to quickly adapt and make the most of this amazing opportunity!

Q: You’ve been a mainstay of eNASCAR for about half a decade now, racing for many of the biggest names in the series including your new team at Tony Kanaan eSports this year. How has the series changed since you first made it in, and how has your time here helped your opportunities to go from sim to reality?

A: When I first qualified into eNASCAR, I was simply a kid in high school trying to make it in an industry that felt so far away and near impossible to reach. Considering I lived in California, which is across the country from the NASCAR industry, eNASCAR allowed me to bridge the gap and make connections with people I would’ve otherwise never interacted with. I’m confident had we not won at Richmond that none of this would’ve happened the same way. Through that victory it sparked my pro late model opportunity and my first time in a stock car.

Tony Kanaan has been such an incredible role model for me growing up watching him race and now as I compete for him! I’m grateful for the opportunity he’s given me, and I will most definitely be using advice he’s given me for this weekend’s race!

Q: Finally, what are your goals and expectations for this weekend? And is there anything else for later in the year that you’re working on that you can tease?

A: The goal is to run a clean race and bring home the best finish I can! This is an opportunity that took a full team effort to make happen and I just want to make sure I take full advantage of it. They say to finish first you must first finish! We have some more racing in the works and I’m looking forward to releasing more plans very soon! In the meantime thank you to everyone for the overwhelming support. Hopefully through all of this it inspires more people to chase their dreams and truly believe anything is possible!

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series XPEL 225 at Circuit of the Americas takes place on Saturday, March 23 at 1:30PM ET. Live coverage will air on FS1 and MRN Radio. If you’re in the area, click here to buy tickets to watch Vicente race!

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Images via Vicente Salas (1); Andrew Fuller (2); Justin Melillo (3)