Eckes Starts 2024 With Great Points Day Amidst Chaos at Daytona

A resilient effort by Christian Eckes and the NAPA Auto Care team salvaged a top-10 finish in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) opener at Daytona International Speedway (DIS) on Friday night. The driver of the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST finished 10th despite being involved in three multi-truck accidents in the second half of the event. His 10th-place result earned him 39 points and places him third in the NCTS championship standings.

Eckes was buried deep in the field after qualifying 25th, but he instantly darted toward the front once the green flag flew. Eckes’ aggression was immediately evident as he made three-wide moves on the opening lap. He narrowly avoided a multi-truck accident on lap six and joined the top-10 on lap 13. A one-lap dash to close Stage 1 saw Eckes grab three points in eighth position on lap 20.

Crew chief Charles Denike kept Eckes on track during the caution to inherit track position and found themselves in the mix for the race lead when Stage 2 went green at lap 27. Eckes was in the thick of the battle for the race lead and pushed his new MHR teammate Tyler Ankrum to the Stage 2 win. Eckes pocketed another nine points by running second at the end of the segment on lap 40.

Under the second stage caution, Eckes pitted for four tires and fuel and restarted 12th on lap 45. A caution on lap 57 allowed him, and several other competitors, to make their final stop for fuel. Eckes restarted 16th on lap 62 and rocketed to the front with some aggressive drafting. He briefly took the lead on lap 72 but was involved in an accident on lap 79 while running second. Despite losing a lap, the NAPA Auto Care team made ample repairs and allowed Eckes to regain his lap on lap 86. With five laps to go, he suffered minor damage in an incident which set up an overtime restart. After restarting 24th with two laps remaining, Eckes drove halfway back through the field but was swept into a track-blocking accident on the final lap and suffered significant damage.

Eckes was able to refire his Chevrolet Silverado RST and drove back around to the checkered flag to finish 10th and start the season just four points out of the championship lead.

Christian Eckes Quote:

“Tonight was a wild night, for sure. We were able to drive our NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet up to the front a couple times and were going to be one of the trucks to beat. I was able to work well with our teammates for a while tonight until we got turned off Turn 4 there with 20-to-go or so. I’m proud of the guys on our NAPA team to get it fixed and got our lap back. We never gave up tonight and we saved a ton of points because of it.”