The Decker family will get the band back together this weekend at one of the most historic racing facilities in North America. Natalie, Claire and Paige Decker have all entered this weekend’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Alpha Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway (VA).
Saturday will serve as the NCWTS debut for both Natalie and Claire, with Natalie set to pilot the No. 14 VP’s Madditive NTS Motorsports Chevrolet and Claire climbing into Jennifer Jo Cobb’s #10 Chevy.
“After Chris (Wimmer) got his opportunity to go down south and work with Harrison (Burton), the team sat down and tried to figure out what we really wanted to do,” Claire Decker told Speed51.com powered by JEGS. “My sister was focusing on the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and I always knew I wanted to move up, so I thought why not start now so I can still show Paige who’s the better sister. As Jennifer said, she thought she would be going to California for a reality show, so the truck was open. We heard about it and decided to jump at the opportunity.”
“I was called and asked to drive the number-14 truck for Martinsville and VP Madditives came on board to make my dream of driving a NASCAR Camping World Truck become a reality,” said Natalie Decker.
Meanwhile, Paige enters her third NCWTS race in Mike Harmon’s No. 74 at Martinsville Speedway. Paige failed to make the race in 2014 and brought home a 30th-place finish in 2015. She’ll be looking to improve on that finish this time around and earn bragging rights over the rest of the Decker family.
“Martinsville is such a tough track,” said Paige, “So any and all seat time a driver can get there is going to benefit them tremendously. Not only that, but being on the track with drivers such as Kyle Busch and Daniel Suarez is going to teach you a bunch and fast. I have for sure learned from my previous truck races at Martinsville to be patient and to take my time, especially as a new driver starting out in such a prestigious series.”
While Paige has previous experience to lean on, it is a new adventure for both Claire and Natalie, and one that is just beginning to sink in.
“I am nervous and excited at the same time. I am going into this first race like a sponge, ready to soak up and learn as much as I can,” said Natalie.
“I’m nervous because I know it’s not going to be easy getting into the show and that’s what I really am aiming for,” said Claire. “I’m excited because I haven’t been in a race car for around 10 months, which is far too long to be out. I’m still in shock that I’m really going to be racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. After watching racing on the TV for so many years I can’t believe I finally get the opportunity.”
The three Decker girls have raced together for many years and while many think they are all sisters, that’s actually not the case. Claire and Paige are sisters and Natalie is their cousin. Still their racing bond has linked the three together for the better part of a decade.
They focused on racing Super Late Models over the course of the last three years, mainly in their home state of Wisconsin. It has been a while since they have raced against each other and the atmosphere at Martinsville will bring out their competitive nature as well as excitement to be doing this together.
“Whenever the three of us are together it’s very intense,” said Claire. “Especially when we all want the same goal. It will be nice because Paige and Natalie bring out my inner competitor.”
“You know at this point I am used to having to compete against my sister and cousin, so it is a bit second nature,” said Paige. “I am there to better myself and I have more than enough on my plate to keep me occupied. I am going to help my sister and cousin as much as I can to make their weekends easier, considering I am the only one that has been through this before. But in the end, we’re all racing against each other as competitors.”
“Before I had the opportunity to race at Martinsville with the VP Madditive number-14 Truck, I was planning on cheering for my cousins. Now it’s a different story, I will be competing against them and most determined to finish ahead of them. I am excited to spend time with them off the track like the good old days of go-karting.”
While their competitive nature will flare up once they hit the track, there’s no doubt Claire and Natalie will lean on Paige and her previous experience not only in the NCWTS, but also at Martinsville Speedway.
“Of course I will ask my sister for advice,” said Claire. “She really has been someone I look up to immensely. I want her to make the show as much as I want myself to make the show. After that I want to beat her.”
And, of course, Paige is more than willing to offer a few words of wisdom to her family members.
“The first thing I have told them is everything they learned in the Super Late Model to forget it,” said Paige. “The NASCAR trucks are heavy. You need to continuously carry your momentum around the whole track, and you’re going to use more brake than what you ever thought was possible. Most importantly, however, is to remember that they are competing in a NASCAR race, with people who have been racing for forever, essentially this is the big league and to remember that.”
At the end of the day the biggest goal for the three Deckers is to learn. They hope to learn more about racing at the next level and to continue to compete against some of the best drivers in the country.
“For this weekend to be a success for me I would make the show and bring the truck home in one piece. I want to have a solid run with a lot of laps,” said Claire. “The more time I have in the truck the more comfortable I will become.”
“My goal for the weekend is to keep improving,” said Natalie. “I am excited to work with veteran Rick Carelli, who will be my spotter, and learn from him.”
“I just want to finish the whole race and learn, learn, learn. Learn more about the trucks, the track, preferred driving style and how to represent myself as a driver at the NASCAR level,” said Paige. “I would like to move forward after Martinsville to some bigger tracks, which is something that is potentially in the works already. Representing myself well on and off the track are two focus areas in order to move forward to the next NASCAR race.”
The green flag for the Alpha Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway is set for 2:30 p.m. ET Saturday.
-By Jana Wimmer, Speed51.com Midwest Editor – Twitter: @JWimm22
-Photo credit: Decker Racing