NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Overview:
Event: Lucas Oil 150, Race 23 of 23, 200 Laps – 45/45/60; 150 Miles
Location: Phoenix (Ariz.) Raceway (one-mile oval)
Date/Broadcast: Nov. 6, 2020 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
What You Need to Know:
- Christian Eckes and the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass head to Phoenix Raceway for the final race of the 2020 season. Eckes is coming off a fourth-place finish last week at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The 19-year-old driver finished ninth in his lone NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series start at the Phoenix in the 2018 event.
- With one event remaining on the 2020 Gander Trucks schedule, Eckes has posted six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 12.7. He ranks second among series regulars in percentage of laps run on the lead lap (95.43%), fourth in average running position (8.887), and laps in the top 15 (2,562) and fifth in laps led (176).
- 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. After the points reset entering this weekend’s event, Eckes sits seventh in the point standings, 17 points behind Austin Hill for the sixth position. With fellow rookie of the year contender Zane Smith making the Championship 4, Eckes will finish second to Smith in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings.
- The Toyota Racing Development driver 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.
- 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, 77 top-five and 117 top-10 finishes across his 158 races calling the shots for the organization. His 28 wins as a crew chief rank second all-time in the Truck Series to former KBM signal caller Eric Phillips (37).
- Across seven Truck Series starts at Phoenix, Fugle’s drivers have one win, four poles, 471 laps led, three top-five and five top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 11.3. The New York native was atop the pit box for Erik Jones’ historic win in November of 2013, when at the time Jones became the youngest winner in Truck Series history.
- Kyle Busch Motorsports (KBM) has five victories at the Arizona track. KBM’s five victories at the Arizona track have come with four different drivers. Kyle Busch won in 2011, Brian Scott in 2012, Erik Jones went back-to-back in 2013-2014 and Daniel Suarez claimed the top spot in 2016.
- A KBM driver led the most laps in the Phoenix race every year from 2011 to 2018. Busch (2011, 107), Scott (2012, 43), Jones (2013, 84), Jones (2014, 114), Jones (2015, 106), William Byron (2016, 112), Christopher Bell (2017, 90) and Harrison Burton (2018, 46). The streak narrowly came to an end last year when Brandon Jones led 36 laps but was narrowly eclipsed by Ben Rhodes (47) and Stewart Friesen (44).
- 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
It’s the final race of the season. How would you assess your season?
“It’s the final race of the year. It’s been a long and interesting year. There has been a lot of opportunities that we’ve missed, but in the same aspect, I learned a lot. I can definitely use this year as a learning process. Hopefully, we can finish the year strong in Phoenix and achieve one of the goals we’ve missed so far.”
Phoenix is a unique track. You had a top-10 run as part of your part-time schedule. Do you like the track? How crazy are the restarts with the dogleg right after the start-finish line?
“I have one start in Phoenix in 2018 with the No. 46 team that was my first year in trucks. We ran OK and ran like eighth or ninth. We had a decent truck. It was not a perfect truck. I learned a lot. Hopefully I can utilize what I learned then to now. It was a fun track when I went there. It was the first year of the dogleg being right after the restart zone. It’s going to be interesting for sure.”
Now that the season is going to be over, what is the one thing you have highest on your to do list?
“The highest thing on not only my list but the team as well is to get the final win. That wasn’t at the top of the list, but it was the second one down. We didn’t achieve the first one, but we have a shot at the second one. We are definitely going to be running as hard as we can to go do that.”
Christian Eckes Career Highlights:
- Across 34 career Truck Series starts has produced three poles, 307 laps led, nine top-five and 17 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-68: The No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass team will unload KBM-68 for Friday night’s race at Phoenix. The Tundra finished 32nd in its debut at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway after running second early in the Final Stage before experiencing a flat tire and a broken driveshaft.
KBM Notes of Interest:
- KBM drivers have collected five wins, five poles, 914 laps led, 11 top-five and 19 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 9.7 across 28 starts at Phoenix Raceway.
- The organization’s five victories at the Arizona track have come with four different drivers. Kyle Busch won in 2011, Brian Scott in 2012, Erik Jones went back-to-back in 2013-2014 and Daniel Suarez claimed the top spot 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.