Back to Form, Back to the Roots … Christian Eckes regained his form after winning at Darlington Raceway last Friday and returns to the sport’s roots this weekend at North Wilkesboro Speedway (NWS). The driver of the No. 19 Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet Silverado RST righted the ship by dominating Darlington and cemented his place in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) playoffs by leading 82 of the 158 laps for his second victory of the season. NWS’ recent, and nearly incomprehensible, revival is a welcome sight for fans and competitors alike, as the 0.625-mile short track pre-dates NASCAR and returns to the NCTS circuit for the first time since 1996. The abrasive surface, downhill frontstretch, uphill backstretch and varying corners will provide a significant challenge to the Eckes and the No. 19 team.
All is Right … All is right again in the No. 19 team camp after capturing their second victory of the season at Darlington. Despite not finishing better than 15th for five races, Eckes, crew chief Charles Denike, and the Gates Hydraulics team never wavered and have been one of the fastest teams in the series throughout all nine races this season. Eckes has led 147 laps (third-most among full-time drivers), and has led in six of the nine races in 2023, including the last two. The No. 19 team has displayed their character and resolve by fighting through unfortunate results in recent weeks to return to victory lane and back into contention for the regular season title.
Short Track History … NWS marks the sixth short track that Eckes will compete at in his NCTS career. The New York native has earned top-10 finishes at four of the five short tracks at which he’s previously competed but is still searching for his first victory. Three of Eckes’ seven victories in the ARCA Menards Series came at short tracks, which included wins at Salem Speedway, Indianapolis Raceway Park, and Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Season to Date … With seven events remaining in the NCTS regular season, Eckes has vaulted himself back into the mix for the regular season crown. His victory at Darlington and fourth stage win of the season earned him 58 points last Friday, which closed him to within 39 markers of the points lead. Eckes joined defending NCTS champion Zane Smith as the only multi-race winners thus far this season and has totaled three top-five’s and four top-10 finishes.
Chassis Selection … Eckes will race chassis No. 313 for the second time this season on Saturday afternoon. Denike and the Gates Hydraulics team turned this Silverado RST around after most recently racing it at Martinsville Speedway on April 14th. Eckes raced inside the top five with chassis No. 313 that evening but finished 15th after inclement weather ended the race 76 laps early.
Tune In … FOX Sports 1 will carry every lap of on-track action from the first NWS race weekend in 26 years, beginning with practice on Friday afternoon at 3:00 p.m. ET. FS1 resumes coverage with qualifying on Saturday morning at 10:35 a.m. ET followed by NASCAR Raceday at 1:00 p.m. ET and the green flag at 1:30 p.m. ET. Stay connected with the No. 19 Gates Hydraulics team by following @BMR_NASCAR on Twitter, @bmrnascar on Instagram, and Bill McAnally Racing on Facebook.
Christian Eckes Quote:
On returning to race at North Wilkesboro:
“It’s pretty crazy to see everything that’s happened with North Wilkesboro in the last couple years and to be able to have a full race weekend there is going to be exciting. Our Gates Hydraulics team is looking forward to racing there. We had a lot of speed at Martinsville, so we’re anxious to get back to a short track and try to get another win. The win at Darlington last week was such a huge honor, and to join names that have won there is really special. This week wouldn’t be any different. There’s so much history at Wilkesboro, and it’d be awesome to join that list of winners too. Tire management is going to be the big key to getting it done this weekend. Whoever can keep the tires under them the best is probably going to come out on top, so we’ll try to do everything we can to save tires and be up front at the end.”
McAnally Hilgemann Racing PR