Eckes Grabs Third Stage Win as Mechanical Issue Slows Strong COTA Run
Speedway Digest Staff Sunday, Mar 26 267
Christian Eckes collected a valuable playoff point and a 30th-place result at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) due to a mechanical issue on Saturday afternoon. The driver of the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST led three laps in Stage 1 to secure his third stage victory, and eighth playoff point, in the first four races. After four events, Eckes sits fourth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship points standings.
The Middletown, N.Y. driver began the afternoon from fifth position after advancing to the final round of pole qualifying on Friday. Eckes instantly made his presence felt on the opening lap by taking the third position. He continued his aggression on the lap four restart as he made a short-lived bid for the lead. During the five-lap green flag run, Eckes reported his NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet was loose on the left-handers, but that didn’t deter him from taking control of the race on lap 11.
Eckes took advantage of a restart on lap 11 to pull off a bold, three-wide maneuver for the race lead at the top of the hill in Turn 1. He captured his third stage win of the season on lap 12, and came to put road on lap 14 under the green flag for his first scheduled pit stop.
As the cycle of pit stops unfolded, Eckes reported an issue on lap 16. On lap 19, the issue worsened and forced Eckes to pit road for significant work to repair the power steering. He returned to the race eight laps down and was relegated to a 30th-place finish.
Christian Eckes Quote:
“Our NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet was capable of winning today, that’s for sure. All the MHR guys did a great job preparing this Silverado RST and it showed with the speed that we had. It’s a disappointing result for sure, but to win a stage and get another playoff point helps for later this year. We’ve been in contention to win every race so far this year, and that says a lot. I can’t wait to get to Texas and have a chance to rebound next week.”
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