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For Waters, his NASCAR debut has been a long time coming

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An opportunity that presents itself every year will come true Friday night at Martinsville Speedway when Cam Waters makes his NASCAR debut in the Craftsman Truck Series with ThorSport Racing.

Waters visited the same track a year ago, which further piqued his interest in a sport he has long followed. As a Ford Mustang driver in Australian Supercars for Tickford Racing, Waters will compete in the No. 66 ThorSport Racing Ford F-150 at Martinsville Speedway. He is the third Australian Supercars driver to compete in a NASCAR race in less than a year, although no one knew Waters had been working on the deal long before Shane van Gisbergen and Brodie Kostecki.

“I’ve wanted to do something like this for a long time,” Waters said. “Shane was very lucky with the way his stuff came together and I was really happy for him, and the way Chicago went was obviously great. “For me, it's something I've wanted to do for a long time and it's easy It’s great to finally get something going and do this race.”

Unlike van Gisbergen and Kostecki, who made their debut in a Cup Series car, Waters is doing so in a truck. NASCAR took inspiration from sports cars and Australian supercars for its next-gen car, but Waters felt the truck was the best way to learn and said he preferred truck racing.

“I went to Martinsville 12 months ago and I've done a lot of dirt oval stuff in Australia, little stuff,” Waters said, “so for me I wanted to experience oval racing and the truck was probably the perfect opportunity to get there . “Over here and drive a short oval and race.”

Waters didn't deny that he would one day join NASCAR full-time, but noted that he has a “pretty cool thing” going on in Australia. NASCAR will be a different experience when it comes to oval road racing, but Waters has experience with sprint cars, late model cars and modifications on dirt ovals. Although he will have a better answer after the weekend, Waters expects his sprint car experience, which involved searching for grip and trying different lanes, will carry over into his NASCAR debut.

When Waters arrived in the United States late last week, he spent time at the ThorSport Racing shop in Sandusky, Ohio, having the seat adjusted. It was a racing workshop that overwhelmed him because of its size. A road trip to Charlotte took him to the Ford technical center for simulator work.

“I think if we can keep the truck clean Friday night and hold as much as we can, I think that would be good,” Waters said. “I somehow have no expectations. I don't really know what happens next. It will be a jump in the deep end, so to speak, with the limited practice and inability to drive the truck beforehand. For now, that's the only thing we have set in stone.

“It's quite difficult with my schedule in Australia. I'm aiming for a championship there. This race was a pretty perfect fit between AGP and Telpo to fit into one race. I really need to get through this weekend and see how we go home, go to New Zealand and try to win a few races there to get my Supercars championship back on track.”

Waters will be at the track for practice in Martinsville on Friday afternoon (3:00 p.m. ET, FS1), followed by qualifying. The green flag is set after 7:30 p.m. ET (FS1).