NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Overview:
Event: KDI Office Technology 200, Race 13 of 23, 200 laps – 45/45/110; 200 miles
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway in Delaware (one-mile oval)
Date/Broadcast: Aug. 21, 2020 at 5 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
What You Need to Know:
- Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra, will make his first start in any series at Dover International Speedway on Friday. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year candidate will look to continue a recent surge in performance that has seen him post an average finish of 6.1 over the last six races compared to 17.1 over the first six races of 2020.
- The Toyota Racing Development driver has been on the cusp of his first NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series victory in recent weeks, having finished in the runner-up position in three of the last five events on the schedule. Eckes took the lead on a restart in the second overtime session at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Aug. 7 but surrendered the lead to Zane Smith on the final lap. The 19-year-old rookie also finished second to KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch July 18 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth and second to three-time series champion Matt Crafton July 25 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
- The Triple Truck Challenge continues this weekend at Dover in the Gander Truck Series. This year’s program consists of the events at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, Dover (Del.) International Speedway (Aug. 21) and Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway (Aug. 30). An extra $50,000 from Gander RV & Outdoors is on the line for each of those three events, should a driver win two of the three races he will get a $150,000 bonus and if a driver can win all three races, they will get a $500,00 bonus.
- Eckes ranks fifth in the Gander Trucks championship standings. After 12 events, he sits 64 tallies behind points leader Austin Hill. The New York native currently sits eighth on the 10-driver Gander Trucks playoff grid with Austin Hill, Smith, Grant Enfinger, Crafton and Sheldon Creed having picked up victories this season and being locked into the playoffs, while Brett Moffitt (second) and Ben Rhodes (fourth) in the points standings. Overall, in 12 starts this season, he has compiled four top-five and six top-10 finishes, resulting in an average finish of 11.7. He ranks second among series regulars in average running position (9.3) and third in laps led (127).
- Across 24 career Gander Trucks starts, Eckes has produced three poles, 255 laps led, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.6. Before posting three runner-up finishes across the last five races, he had finished a career-best third three times in his career.
- The talented teenager captured the 2019 ARCA Menards Series championship after recording four wins, two poles, 400 laps led, 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes, resulting in an average finish of 4.8 across 19 starts. Across 46 career ARCA Menards Series starts overall, Eckes has collected seven wins, four poles, 1094 laps led, 23 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 6.9.
- Eckes is paired with champion crew chief Ryan “Rudy” Fugle. Fugle has guided his team to five owner’s championships (2013, 2015, 2016, 2017 and 2019) as a crew chief at KBM, including combined owner’s/driver’s championships with Erik Jones in 2015 and Christopher Bell in 2017. The New York native’s drivers have combined for 28 wins, 24 poles, 75 top-five and 113 top-10 finishes across his 148 races calling the shots for the organization.
- Fugle’s drivers have one win, one pole, 240 laps led, two top-five and two top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 14.0 across seven starts at Dover in the Truck Series. His lone Monster Mile victory came with owner-driver Kyle Busch in the 2013 event.
- Safelite AutoGlass, the nation’s largest provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, will adorn the hood of Eckes’ No. 18 Tundra for all 23 events on NASCAR Gander RV& Outdoors schedule in 2020.
Christian Eckes, Driver Q&A
Are you looking forward to the first short track on the Truck Series schedule this season?
“Yeah — for sure. Short track racing is something I grew up on and something I enjoyed running ARCA the last few years and super late models before that. It’s something I’ve definitely become accustomed to. I am really looking forward to getting in my Safelite Tundra this weekend. Dover is an interesting racetrack. Obviously, I’ve never raced there, but I’m just looking forward to getting on track.”
This is your first start in any series at Dover. Are there any tracks on the ARCA schedule that you feel are comparative?
“Yeah. From running on the sim and stuff, it seems like it almost like a Salem or a Winchester. Those are probably the closest comparison with just how hard you drive it, how much grip and use the throttle at those types of places. I haven’t really run at Winchester in a while, but I would probably say that is the closest one of the two. In the same aspect, those are racetracks I really enjoyed going to. I’m really looking forward to the race this weekend.”
Does having an extra $50,000 on the line for the Triple Truck Challenge give you any extra motivation?
“Yeah — I’d say for sure. I’m trying to buy a house here, so I could use the extra money. As a whole, I’m not really thinking about that. I’m thinking about putting our Safelite Tundra in victory lane. We’ve been really close over the past few weeks. Obviously, the road course didn’t go as planned toward the end, but we still had a lot of speed. Overall, we are making strides. We are doing everything right. We’ve got to fully put a race together and put a weekend better, so I think we’ll be in good shape. Hopefully we can do that this weekend at Dover.”
Christian Eckes Career Highlights:
- Across 24 career Truck Series starts has produced three poles, 255 laps led, seven top-five and 13 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.6. Earned a career-best runner-up finish at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth on July 18, 2020 and then equaled it July 25, 2020 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City and Aug. 7 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.
- Captured the 2019 ARCA Menards Series championship after recording four wins, two poles, 400 laps led, 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes, resulting in an average finish of 4.8 across 19 starts. Has seven career ARCA Racing Series victories across 46 starts to go along with four poles, 1094 laps led, 23 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes.
- Put his name on the motorsports map when he won the prestigious Snowball Derby Super Late Model race in 2016 at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla. The then 15-year-old battled side-by-side with John Hunter Nemechek for the final two laps before narrowly edging him to the finish line.
Christian Eckes’ No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra:
KBM-58: The No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team will unload for Friday’s race at Dover. The Tundra has six previous starts, including a win with owner-driver Kyle Busch last May at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Eckes led 10 laps and finished second in both stages of this year’s Las Vegas event before being forced into the wall early in the third stage and limping home to a 23rd-place finish and most recently finished 14th with it at Charlotte in May.
KBM Notes of Interest
- Across 26 starts at Dover, KBM drivers have collected three wins, three poles, 821 laps led, nine top-five and 13 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 10.6.
- Owner-driver Kyle Busch has earned all three of his organization’s victories at Dover (2011, 2013 and 2014).
- KBM holds the NGROTS records for most career wins (79) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). In addition to collecting a series-record seven Owner’s Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers: Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).
- The No. 18, the number which was on the first Tundra that went to victory lane for KBM in 2010, has 21 career victories.