Christian Eckes drove to his first career victory at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday evening. Eckes led ThorSport Racing teammates Ben Rhodes (second), Matt Crafton (third) and Johnny Sauter (fourth) to the line. That finish made ThorSport Racing the first team in NASCAR Truck Series history to sweep the top-four positions in a single event.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Race 19 of 23 – 201 Laps, 134 Miles
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, CHRISTIAN ECKES
2nd, BEN RHODES
3rd, MATT CRAFTON
4th, JOHNNY SAUTER
5th, Todd Gilliland*
6th, STEWART FRIESEN
10th, AUSTIN HILL
12th, DEREK KRAUS
15th, SPENCER DAVIS
18th, DANNY BOHN
20th, CJ MCLAUGHLIN
21st, DYLAN LUPTON
24th, DREW DOLLAR
33rd, JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK
35th, CHANDLER SMITH
CHRISTIAN ECKES, No. 98 Curb Records Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How difficult is it to race in this series?
“You can look at my Racing Reference to see how bad it is and how tough it is. This is big. It’s been a tough year. That’s all I’ve got to say, it’s been a tough year since last November. Hopefully I proved I can still do this.”
What does it mean to prove that you still have it, like you said?
“Just huge thanks to Curb Records, ThorSport, Duke and Rhonda (Thorson, team owners). I’m speechless. Like I said, it’s been a rough year.”
How did you come away with the win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway?
“Great people, great organization, great race trucks. This is a brand new truck. We redesigned a lot of things this week and it paid off. Can’t stress it enough, thank you Duke (Thorson, team owner), thank you Rhonda (Thorson, team owner), thank you Toyota Racing, thank you Curb Records, thank you T-Sport, Farm Paint and everybody this year. It’s been a rough year. Ever since 2020 really, it’s been a rough couple of years. Man, we’re back in victory lane and I couldn’t be happier.”
How hard is it to get in and out of the truck this year?
“It’s super tough. I’m going to be 100 percent honest with you, it’s been such a rough two years. I haven’t won in about a year and I don’t know how many months. It hasn’t sunk in. I love this team, I love this organization, I love my owners, I love my sponsors, I love my manufacturer. Ready for the next one.”
What does it mean to lead the one-two-three-four finish for ThorSport Racing, the first time it’s ever been done in series history?
“Just a great job by our organization. We’ve shown runs, we’ve shown speed just like this week and week again. Our 98 team in particular, we haven’t had the results, but we’ve shown the speed and the ability to be able to do this. Just super proud of everybody.”
CHRISTIAN ECKES, No. 98 Curb Records Toyota Tundra, ThorSport RacingBEN RHODES, No. 99 Bombardier LearJet 75 Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 2nd
How difficult is to think big picture on a late-race restart?
“It’s tough to begin with but at this track it’s even crazier. We all saw at this track the restarts were wild all night long. I think I’m just happy with the night. Come in from Bristol, barely getting in, and now I hear we are the points leader. But I couldn’t be more proud of ThorSport Racing. Heck, we were one-through-four. I heard that was the first time in series history. I’m super proud of Christian Eckes. I gave him as big of a shove as I could down the backstretch and when that happened, he got the lead. I thought I could challenge him. We needed one more corner before that caution came out and maybe I could have challenged him for the win, but super proud of him. He deserves it. He’s been working hard on it, and with his part-time schedule, it’s really good to see. ThorSport Racing is on fire tonight.”
MATT CRAFTON, No. 88 Jack Links/Menards Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 3rd
What made the biggest difference tonight?
“These guys behind pit wall. Junior (Carl Joiner, crew chief) and them making all of the right adjustments. We’ve never ever made as many adjustments as we did tonight. The Menards Toyota Tundra was good on long runs, but our short run speed – we were pathetic. We weren’t wanting that last restart but we did. I thought I had a good run off turn four and was going to try to do something with the 98 (Christian Eckes) and then the 99 (Ben Rhodes) turned underneath me and drove on by me. All-in-all, I’m really happy for Duke and Rhonda Thorson. 1-2-3-4, I don’t think that has ever been done. Thanks to Menards and everybody.”
JOHNNY SAUTER, No. 13 All American Quarter Horse Congress Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 4th
Describe the last restart and where you had to put your truck to get a top-five finish?
“We didn’t choose very wisely there on the pit strategy call, but thankfully the caution came out and we could get a decent run with our American Quarter Horse Congress Toyota. I think we lined up 12th or 14th, something like that. I tried to time it just right to where I could get a run and it worked out pretty good. By the time I got to turn three, I could run the top and just rip the top those last three or four laps. I think we would have had the 88 (Matt Crafton) there, we were door-to-door with him and just caution came out. Nonetheless, ThorSport one, two, three, four – that’s pretty awesome. We had a good truck tonight. We struggled at the beginning. Worked on it, worked on it, worked on it and just proud of everybody at ThorSport. Good effort.”
JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK, No. 4 Berry’s Manufacturing Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 33rd
What are your thoughts about tonight?
“I think we are in a good spot in points, so I’m not too worried about it right now. We just have to go perform. We can’t have issues like this. I said coming into tonight that we can’t beat ourselves. We had the fastest truck here I felt like from stage one. We made adjustments and I felt like we were even better, and then we had ignition problems all night still running fast lap times, so I don’t know what to do.”
CHANDLER SMITH, No. 18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 35th
Are you okay and what happened?
“Yeah, I’m all good. Tyler (Ankrum) got loose up at the top. He got completely sideways. Some tracks like this I’ve got experience with, they come back down the race track and take a good portion of the field with them. My spotter told me to go low. I should have listened to him. It’s completely my fault. I went high. I went with my gut, and bit the bullet for it. It is what it is. It’s a heartbreaker. We had really good momentum. We had a really fast Safelite Toyota Tundra tonight. Got in front of all of the guys who had tires except for one, and we would have been set pretty good there. Disappointed in myself.”
Toyota Racing PR