Career Year Gets Dirty … Christian Eckes’ career-best start to a season will go off the beaten path this weekend as the driver of the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST faces one of the biggest tests of the year. The clay-covered high banks of Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) await Eckes as he looks to add to his impressive start to 2023. Eckes has already virtually assured himself of a spot in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) playoffs courtesy of his win at Atlanta Motor Speedway (AMS) but based on last year’s top-five on the dirt at “The Last Great Colosseum”, another victory might not be far from his grasp.
High Speed Dirt … While at least one dirt race has been on the NCTS schedule for nine of the last 10 seasons, Eckes has just three starts at three different dirt tracks. In those three appearances, Eckes has been consistently towards the front of the field and earned a fifth-place finish in last season’s dirt race at BMS. Eckes has steadily improved his results over the course of those three races, as he finished 12th in his dirt debut at Eldora Speedway in 2019 and tallied a sixth-place finish at Knoxville Raceway in 2021.
Season to Date … Through five of the 16 regular season races, Eckes resides fourth in the NCTS championship standings, the highest he has been ranked at this point of the season in his previous three full-time seasons. Eckes has captured a series-high three stage wins, which has garnered him a total of eight playoff points, including the five playoff markers from his AMS victory. In total, he has led in four of the five races and collected one win, two top-five’s and three top-10 finishes.
Chassis Selection … The lone dirt race on the NCTS calendar means crew chief Charles Denike and the NAPA Auto Care team have prepared chassis No. 003 for Saturday’s 150-lap feature. This BMS dirt race will be the only event all season that this Chevrolet Silverado RST is scheduled to compete in, and it most recently finished sixth with Derek Kraus behind the wheel at Knoxville Raceway.
Tune In … Coverage from the dirt-covered “Thunder Valley” begins Friday evening with coverage of two practice sessions at 5:30 p.m. ET and 8:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 1. Saturday’s racing program kicks off with four passing points heat races on FOX Sports 2 at 4:30 p.m. ET. Pre race coverage continues on FS1 with NASCAR Raceday at 7:00 p.m. ET followed by the green flag at 8:00 p.m. ET. Stay connected with the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care team by following @BMR_NASCAR on Twitter, @bmrnascar on Instagram, and Bill McAnally Racing on Facebook.
Christian Eckes Quote:
On his dirt racing background:
“There’s just so much to dirt racing. The different lanes, the different grip levels of what lane. Some people run that lane and it’s not as good. It’s just really tough. There’s so many elements to it that you don’t really think about going in, but it’s really complicated. We’ve been doing a lot of studying trying to get better at it, but it’s hard for sure. Hopefully we’ll just have a good run with our NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet. We’re chasing the regular season championship, so it’s another race and we have to get good points out of it.”
McAnally Hilgemann Racing PR