Christian Eckes put another impressive effort together at Texas Motor Speedway (TMS) on Saturday by scoring the sixth-most points and led in the fourth race this season before collecting a 15th-place result. The driver of the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST was contending for the victory on the final lap before getting collected in a multi-truck accident. Eckes’ 17 stage points during the afternoon helped him maintain the fourth spot in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series standings after five races.
Eckes started the day at TMS by posting the fastest lap in practice and earning the sixth-starting spot in pole qualifying. The New Yorker advanced towards the front from the outset by immediately taking the second position on a lap six restart. Eckes held the runner up position until a competition caution on lap 35 and made a strong bid of the lead when the race resumed on lap 36. He was credited with leading a lap before settling in third position where he ran for the balance of Stage 1. At lap 77, he collected eight valuable points by running in the third position while fighting a primarily loose condition.
Crew chief Charles Denike and the NAPA Auto Care team armed Eckes with a round of chassis and air pressure adjustments during the stage caution to alleviate his handling issues. He restarted third on lap 78 and quickly regained the runner up position by lap 84. While the balance on his Chevrolet progressed to the tight side, Eckes closed in on the race leader, but was scored second at the end of Stage 2 on lap 122.
Another round of adjustments from the No. 19 team helped Eckes’ speed, but a lap 123 restart in the outside lane dragged him back to the fourth position as clean air was at a premium. A series of cautions and restarts littered the final 35 laps which caused Eckes get shuffled back to 10th on a lap 151 restart. A caution on lap 156 allowed Eckes to thrust himself back into contention on a restart before a multi-truck accident set up a second overtime restart on lap 171. Eckes took the white flag in third, but was swept into a multi-truck accident when the race leaders made contact down the frontstretch, causing substantial damage to his NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet. He was able to drive back to the checkered flag and was credited with a 15th-place finish.
Christian Eckes Quote:
“Overall, I’m just proud of everyone on our NAPA Auto Care team. We had another great truck today and were in contention all day, but that result is just the product of chaos on a green-white-checkered restart. It’s disappointing because that truck was really good and felt like it was plenty capable of winning if we were able to get out in clean air. You hate to have the day end like that, but just proud of everybody at MHR and the speed we’ve had. We ran top-three all day and were in position at the end, so that’s all you can ask for.”
McAnally Hilgemann Racing PR