NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Overview
Location: Homestead-Miami (Fla.) Speedway (1.5-mile oval)
Date/Broadcast: Nov. 15, 2019 at 8 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR 90
What You Need to Know
- Christian Eckes returns this Friday for the final race of the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season. The 19-year-old, Middletown, N.Y., native will vie for Kyle Busch Motorsports’ seventh Owner’s Championship this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, behind the wheel of the No. 51 Mobil 1 Tundra. The No. 51 goes into the weekend as one of four teams competing in the final playoff round for the owner’s title, as well as the No. 52, No. 45 and the No. 24. The No. 51 must finish higher than the other three contenders to claim the title.
- This will be Eckes’ eighth and final start for KBM this season, and the young driver has earned three poles, two top-five and three top-10 finishes, leading 64 laps. He has an average starting position of 5.1 and an average finish of 11.6 on the season. Eckes has no starts in any series at Homestead-Miami Speedway and in his only 1.5-mile Gander Trucks start prior to this weekend, Eckes finished third at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after starting on the pole.
- Last weekend at ISM Raceway in Avondale, Ariz., Brandon Jones earned yet another second-place finish for the No. 51 team, rebounding and contending for the win after a spin in the early laps. Jones runner-up result was the fourth for the No. 51 team this season, with three of them coming during the playoffs.
- Seven different drivers have competed in the No. 51 this season, including owner-driver Kyle Busch, Eckes, Jones, Greg Biffle, Chandler Smith, Alex Tagliani and Riley Herbst. Each one of them has recorded at least one finish of third or higher under the tutelage of crew chief Rudy Fugle. The team has finished in the top three in 12 of the 22 races so far this season, including five wins by Busch and one by veteran Biffle. The No. 51 team has earned 14 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes, resulting in an average finish of 6.7.
- Veteran crew chief Rudy Fugle leads the No. 51 team this season. Fugle has guided his team to four Owner’s Championships (2013, 2015, 2016 and 2017) 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, 70 top-five and 106 top-10 finishes across his 135 races calling the shots for the organization. At Homestead-Miami Speedway, Fugle’s drivers have five starts, two wins, and have never finished worse than sixth, resulting in an average finishing position of 2.6. Fugle was at the helm when owner-driver Kyle Busch won in 2013 and when Byron won in 2016.
- The world’s leading synthetic motor oil brand, Mobil 1 features anti-wear technology that provides performance beyond our conventional motor oils. This technology allows Mobil 1 to meet or exceed the toughest standards of car builders and to provide exceptional protection against engine wear, under normal or even some of the most extreme conditions. Mobil 1 flows quickly in extreme temperatures to protect critical engine parts and is designed to maximize engine performance and help extend engine life.
Christian Eckes, Driver Q&A
Your crew chief, Rudy Fugle, has a lot of success at Homestead, does that give you extra confidence this weekend?
“It gives me a lot (of confidence) going to Homestead with Rudy and everybody that has run so good here in the past. It means a lot to be in this opportunity to go compete for a championship, so hopefully we pull it off and bring the No. 51 team an Owner’s Championship.”
What does it mean to be the one behind the wheel fighting for the championship this weekend?
“It’s huge to have this opportunity. Everybody – the drivers, the crew, Rudy – everybody has worked so hard to get to this point. We’ve had a pretty successful playoffs so far and we’re just looking to build on it this weekend and beat the other three competitors.”
Christian Eckes Career Highlights
- Overall in 11 Gander Trucks starts since making his series debut last June, he has recorded three poles, 102 laps led, two top-five and six top-10 finishes, an average starting position of 6.4 and average finish of 12.3.
- Crowned the ARCA Menards Series champion in 2019 after recording four wins, two poles, 400 laps led, 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes across 19 ARCA Racing Series starts, missing one race due to illness. His first victory this year came in May at Fairgrounds Speedway in Nashville, Tenn., and his most recent victory came at Kansas Speedway last week, where he also clinched the championship.
- Overall in 46 career ARCA Series starts, Eckes has posted seven wins, four poles, 1094 laps led, 23 top-five and 35 top-10 finishes resulting in an average finish of 6.9.
- The talented teenager put his name on the motorsports map when he won the prestigious Snowball Derby Super Late Model race at Five Flags Speedway in Pensacola, Fla., in December of 2016. 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. The Snowball Derby win was part of a three-race winning streak in Late Models to close out the 2016 season after the teenager was victorious in the Myrtle Beach 400 Late Model Stock event at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway and the Thanksgiving Classic All-Star Super Late Model race at Southern National Motorsports Park in Kenly, N.C.
Christian Eckes’ No. 51 Mobil 1 Tundra:
KBM-063: The No. 51 Mobil 1 team will unload chassis KBM-063, which is brand new.
- In 23 starts at Homestead-Miami Speedway, KBM drivers have four wins and one pole position. They have achieved nine top-finishes, 12 top-10 finishes and an average starting position of 11.6 and an average finish of 10.6 with 291 laps led.
- Owner-driver Kyle Busch captured the victories in 2010 and 2013, Darrell Wallace Jr. won in 2014 and William Byron won from the pole in 2016.
- KBM holds the Gander Truck Series records for most career wins (75) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). In addition to collecting a series-record six Owner’s Championships, the organization has produced two championship-winning drivers; Erik Jones (2015) and Christopher Bell (2017).
- The No. 51 is the winningest number in the KBM stable with 30 trips to victory lane in Gander Trucks action.