Christian Eckes Gets Turned While Battling for a Top-Three Finish in Closing Laps

Christian Eckes was battling a top three in the closing laps of Sunday’s 400 when Ben Rhodes turned into the left corner panel of the No. 18 Tundra on the frontstretch and sent Eckes hard into the outside wall near the start-finish line. The Safelite Tundra came to rest in the infield grass with severe damage and left Eckes with a disappointing 25th-place finish.
Stage One Recap: 
  • Eckes started from the10th position after a performance matrix based off his finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the ranking of the fastest lap he turned from the previous race at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
  • He advanced to eighth in the opening laps of the stage but fell back to ninth in the middle of the segment as he reported to be in need of more grip.
  • The New York native made his way back up to the seventh position when a one-truck accident on Lap 33 brought Stage One to completion under caution. 
Stage Two Recap: 
  • Eckes communicated to veteran crew chief Rudy Fugle that he needed more grip in his Tundra before hitting pit road for four tires and fuel between stages.
  • The Safelite Tundra would line up on the outside of the fourth row when Stage Two went green on Lap 40. A one-truck accident put the field under red-flag conditions on lap 44 with Eckes scored in the sixth position.
  • Shortly after electing to start from the top of the fourth row again for the ensuing restart, the New York native slid up the track and fell back to the 12th position. Another one-truck accident slowed the field on Lap 52 with the No. 18 Toyota in the 11th spot.
  • Eckes this time elected to start in the top of the sixth row and the move paid off as he settled into the ninth position with 10 laps remaining in the stanza.
  • Despite being “a little free” in the closing laps, he was able to gain one more position and finish Stage Two in the seventh position. 
Final Stage Recap:  
  • Fugle ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop with a chassis adjustment in an effort to improve the handling of the Safelite Tundra for his young driver.
  • A speedy stop by the over-the-wall crew allowed the No. 18 team to line up on the outside of the second row when the Final Stage went green on Lap 77. Eckes would settle into the third position until the field was slowed for the fifth time on Lap 93 for fluid on the track.
  • On the ensuing restart, the Safelite Tundra lined up on the bottom of the second row and by the time the field came back to the start-finish line had made his way into the runner-up position.
  • A two-truck accident slowed the field for the sixth time on Lap 106 with the 19-year-old driver in the third position. He communicated to Fugle that his Toyota was “a little free.” After the ensuing restart, he lost several positions and was in the seventh spot when the next caution occurred on Lap 118.
  • After hitting pit road for four fresh tires and fuel, the rookie driver lined up on the top of the fourth row for the restart on Lap 122 but fell back to eighth when the yellow flag flew for the eighth time on Lap 129.
  • The next restart was better for Eckes as he went from the bottom of the third row to battling for a spot inside the top three. With just two laps remaining he was passing Rhodes for the third spot when he got turned into the outside wall and ended his strong run.
  • After coming to rest in the infield grass, the No. 18 team’s day was done, and the official result was a 25th-place finish.