NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Overview:
Event: Clean Harbors 200, Race 20 of 23, 134 Laps – 30/30/74; 201 Miles
Location: Kansas Speedway in Kansas City (1.5-mile tri-oval)
Date/Broadcast: Oct. 17, 2020 at 4 p.m. ET on FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
What You Need to Know:
- For the third time this season Christian Eckes and the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team will tackle Kansas Speedway. The NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series raced an unprecedented doubleheader at the 1.5-mile track in July, racing Friday night and Saturday afternoon. After finishing 13th in Friday night’s event, the team went to work overnight and brought back a fast Safelite Tundra for Saturday’s race. On Saturday, Eckes used a strong restart with just over 20 laps remaining to move into the second position but stalled out in Matt Crafton’s tracks in the closing laps and would cross the stripe 0.324 seconds behind the three-time series champion.
- Eckes’ runner-up finish at Kansas was one of three this season for the rookie driver. The 19-year-old driver finished second to KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch at Texas Motor Speedway on July 18 and second to Zane Smith at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn on Aug. 7. Across the first 19 events of the 2020 Gander Trucks season, Eckes has posted five top-five and eight top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 12.8. He ranks third among series regulars in percentage of laps run on lead lap (94.83%), laps in the top 15 (2,067), fourth in average running position (9.258), and fifth in driver rating (96.2) and laps led (169).
- The 19-year-old driver earned a spot in this year’s playoffs after finishing sixth in the regular season point standings but was eliminated after the Round of 10 when he finished seven points behind the cutoff line after getting caught up in a last-lap accident at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. Eckes sits second to Zane Smith in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
- The Toyota Racing Development product secured the ARCA Menards Series title last year with a victory in the series finale at Kansas Speedway. Eckes totaled 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 en route to the championship. Across 46 career ARCA Menards Series starts overall, the New York native 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, 76 top-five and 115 top-10 finishes across his 155 races calling the shots for the organization.
- Across nine Truck Series starts at Kansas, Fugle’s drivers have two wins (William Byron 2016 and Noah Gragson 2018), three poles, 384 laps led, five top-five and five top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 9.2.
- 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. Safelite was the primary sponsor for Noah Gragson’s win at Kansas Speedway in 2018.
Christian Eckes, Driver Q&A
You finished second earlier this year at Kansas. What is your outlook headed into Saturday’s race?
“My outlook going into Kansas is to get a little bit of redemption. Not only because we finished second there in July, but also with not making the Playoffs, I have a little bit of a chip on my shoulders. Everyone on my No. 18 Safelite team is working really hard to give us a good Tundra this weekend. We are going to go execute and hopefully have a shot at the end to get some redemption.”
How does Kansas compare to other mile-and-a-half tracks on the schedule?
“It compares to a few. There’s not too many racetracks that have so many multiple grooves like Kansas. I’ll say Las Vegas is the closest comparison to Kansas. It’s a pretty fun racetrack in how you can move around and find different grip levels throughout the run. It’s just a lot of fun. It’s a track that I like going to. It’s no different this weekend.”
What are your goals for the remainder of the season?
“I’d say our goals for the rest of the 2020 season is to try and get a win. Obviously, that is the ultimate goal, and we’ve been close a few times. We are getting closer every week. I think our second goal is definitely to build on our trucks and try to get them better. We are really close to winning. Hopefully, we can achieve that in the next four races.”
Christian Eckes Career Highlights:
- Across 31 career Truck Series starts has produced three poles, 300 laps led, eight top-five and 15 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 12.3. 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 KBM-58 for Saturday’s race at Kansas. Eckes last piloted the Tundra at Dover in August, where he led 34 laps and finished 11th. KBM owner-driver Kyle Busch picked up KBM-58 lone victory at Charlotte in May of 2019.
KBM Notes of Interest:
- KBM drivers have collected four wins, four poles, 613 laps led, 12 top-five and 20 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 9.5 across 31 starts at Kansas.
- Noah Gragson led a race-high 128 laps and swept all three stages in the 2018 event at Kansas. Owner-driver Kyle Busch has collected two wins at Kansas (2014 & 2017) and William Byron earned his first career Gander Trucks victory there in 2016.
- KBM holds the NGROTS records for most career wins (80) 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.