Christian Eckes Has Solid Day at Gateway Marred by Last-Lap Spin in the SiriusXM Tundra
Christian Eckes made his second NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start of the season and sixth career series' start at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway, and contended for the win before being taken out on the final lap and consigned to a 14th place finish. First practice and qualifying were washed out on Saturday, but Eckes posted the third fastest lap in final practice on Saturday afternoon. As per the NASCAR Rule Book, the field was set by owners' points, so Eckes began the 160-lap event from the pole.
Just moments after finishing second in the ARCA Racing Series race just prior to the Gander Trucks event, Eckes led the field to the green flag. Eckes dropped back to the third position, but he took the lead in the final stage and led twice for a total of 57 laps. Crew chief Rudy Fugle opted for a two-tire strategy throughout the night, putting the young driver near the front of the field on the final lap. In a fierce battle for the win, the No. 52 machine made contact with the SiriusXM Tundra, sending Eckes spinning and relegating him to a 14th-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- Inclement weather throughout the morning and afternoon washed out qualifying, so Eckes started on the pole for the CarShield 200 as the field was set per the NASCAR Rule Book by owners' points standings.
- Eckes fell back on the start but remained in the top-five and reported that his Tundra was free into the turns and tight off.
- At the stage conclusion, Eckes was fifth.
- Fugle called the young driver to pit road following the first stage and chose to change the two right-side tires and fuel the truck.
Stage Two Recap:
- Eckes began the second stage in the third position and reported that his Tundra was good through the center of the corner, but he couldn't get back to the throttle the way that he wanted.
- At the conclusion of Stage 2, Eckes was fourth on the track.
- Fugle brought him to pit road following the 35-lap stage for two left-side tires and fuel.
Stage Three Recap:
- By virtue of a quick two-tire stop and an advantageous pit stall at the end of pit road, Eckes began the final stage in the lead.
- Eckes led 57 laps in the final stage, until the final green flag pit stop.
- Fugle called the No. 51 to pit road with 28 laps to go in the event and the team quickly changed two right-side tires and fueled the machine, but the No. 45 of Ross Chastain only took fuel and when stops cycled around, he inherited the lead, while Eckes was in second.
- After a restart with seven laps to go, Eckes battled for the lead, but on the final lap teammate Todd Gilliland worked around him, leaving him vulnerable to the No. 52 of Stewart Friesen, who ran into him, spinning him out. Eckes was able to keep the 51 machine from any significant damage and continue, making it across the line in 14th.
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