Christian Eckes’ fourth dirt start in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) came to a premature end after 96 laps at Bristol Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST was running near the top-10 in the final stage, but was collected in a multi-truck melee that resulted in terminal damage and a 30th-place finish. After six races, Eckes sits fifth in the NCTS standings with a victory and a guaranteed spot in the playoffs.
Eckes began the 150-lap main event from the 13th position after finishing fifth in his passing points heat race on Saturday afternoon. As the race went green on tacky track conditions, Eckes instantly moved into the top 10 and ran as high as fifth on lap 20. However, a loose handling condition halted his advancement during the remaining 20 circuits of the opening stage. Eckes was scored 12th at the end of Stage 1 on lap 40 and came to the attention of the NAPA Auto Care team during the controlled caution for four tires and chassis adjustments.
Adversity reared its ugly head in Stage 2 after Eckes restarted 13th on lap 41 when he suffered a flat left rear tire and cause him to spin on lap 44. Eckes lost a lap in the pits under caution after the tires carcass wrapped around the rear suspension. Despite the setback, he regained his lap shortly thereafter when a caution flew on lap 62. By the time Stage 2 concluded on lap 90, Eckes was back inside the top 20.
Crew chief Charles Denike kept Eckes on track during the stage caution to gain six positions. As he was on the cusp of rejoining the top-10, two trucks made contact and spun in front of Eckes on the high lane on lap 94. The Atlanta Motor Speedway winner had no escape route and suffered significant damage to the right front of his Chevrolet. The damage was too critical to repair and Eckes was credited with a 30th-place finish after completing 96 laps.
Christian Eckes Quote:
“Just a tough night for our NAPA Auto Care team. We were in the process of recovering from that flat tire and got our lap back. Charles (Denike) made a good call to stay out to gain a little track position. Unfortunately, the No. 38 and No. 4 (trucks) got together and we just had nowhere to go. We’ll try and shake this luck next week at Martinsville and go for that clock.”
McAnally Hilgemann Racing PR