Eckes Seizes Redemption with Dominant Bristol Win

Redemption was served on Saturday night at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) as Christian Eckes was victorious after leading 144 laps and swept the night for his first victory at “Thunder Valley”. The driver of the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST atoned for his runner-up finish at BMS last September in convincing fashion by pacing practice, earning his seventh-career pole award, and leading the most laps. The sixth NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) victory of his career vaulted him to fifth in the championship standings after earning a race-high 57 points.

Eckes put the entire field on notice during practice that his NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet would be the truck to beat. He posted a quick time of 15.55 seconds in practice and backed it up with MHR’s third-straight pole on the BMS concrete, and his second-consecutive. At the green flag, Eckes jumped out to a quick lead and paced the opening 52 circuits. A loose handling condition hindered him from collecting a playoff point in the first segment but still earned nine points in second position at the end of Stage 1 on lap 65.

Crew chief Charles Denike kept Eckes on track during the first stage caution to employ a one-stop strategy in an effort to maintain track position. The race ran without incident from lap 77 through the end of Stage 2 on lap 130. During the run, Eckes continued to wrestle with a loose condition on corner entry and was scored third to earn eight points at lap 130 before coming to pit road for his only pit stop of the night for four tires, fuel, and adjustments.

The NAPA Auto Care team gained a position for Eckes on the stop and allowed him to restart on the front row for the lap 143 restart. He began to pressure Kyle Busch for the race lead on lap 154 and reclaimed the top spot on lap 159. Eckes perfectly executed a restart on lap 227 and created a comfortable gap over the final 24 circuits. In the waning laps, Eckes was able to fend off Busch’s response for the lead and banked his first BMS win. His victory also marked a historic night for MHR as teammates Zane Smith and NCTS points leader Tyler Ankrum joined him in the top-five, marking the first time the organization has had three of the top-five finishers.”

Christian Eckes Quote:

“Oh, man, it’s so sweet. There’s just so much behind this win from last year, missing out on the Championship 4 and losing the race with six (laps) to go. To come back and redeem ourselves was our number one goal, and not only that, but the first three races, how terribly they’ve gone. We had a lot of issues, and to come back and run really good just show the resilience of the team.”