Date: Sept. 10, 2020
Event: ToyotaCare 250 (Race 16 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Richmond (Va.) Raceway (0.75-mile D-shaped oval)
Format: Three Stages; 70 laps/70 laps/110 laps
Start/Finish: 3rd/18th (Running, completed 249 of 250 laps)
Winner: Grant Enfinger of ThorSport Racing (Ford)
Christian Eckes did not have the night he had hoped for in the ToyotaCare 250, finishing one lap down in the 18th position. The Safelite Tundra started from the third position and battled among the top five early in the race but when the final 75 laps of the Final Stage went caution free got caught on older tires and went a lap down to people who pitted for their final set of tires.
Eckes will enter the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series playoffs as the eighth seed next Thursday at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway to begin the Round of 10.
Stage One Recap:
- Eckes started from thethird position after a performance matrix based off his finishing position from the previous race, ranking in owner points standings and the ranking of the fastest lap he turned from the previous race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway.
- The Safelite Tundra jumped to the runner-up position for the first 20 laps of the event but had fallen back to fifth when the first caution of the night flew on Lap 55. Eckes narrowly escaped a spinning truck in front of him but communicated to crew chief Rudy Fugle that he didn’t believe he had flat spotted his tires.
- Fugle elected to keep his driver on the track and the No. 18 Toyota would line up on the outside of row two for the ensuing restart on Lap 61.
- With several teams electing to pit for fresh tires, Eckes would fall back to the 10th position when Stage One came to completion at Lap 70.
Stage Two Recap:
- Eckes communicated to Fugle that his Toyota “drives good but slides the front tires,” before hitting pit road for four fresh tires and full load of fuel.
- The Safelite Tundra would line up ninth for the ensuing restart on Lap 82. As the stage proceeded caution free, Eckes would cross the stripe in the 12th position.
Final Stage Recap:
- Eckes communicated that his Tundra “needs a lot of grip,” before he hit pit road for four fresh tires, a full load of fuel and a chassis adjustment between stages. A fast stop by the over-the-wall crew would allow him to exit pit road eighth and he would choose to start the Final Stage on the top of row four.
- When the fourth and final caution of the night flew on Lap 175, Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road, where the crew made a plethora of chassis adjustments but did not put fresh tires on.
- The Safelite Tundra lined up 18th for the ensuing restart on Lap 181. He would be scored just inside the top 20 for the remainder of the race, as a much-needed caution never flew and ended the day one lap down in the 18th position.
Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Tough race tonight, but you have made the Playoffs. What is your focus going into this?
“We wanted to build some momentum tonight, and we didn’t complete that, but in the same capacity, the regular season has not gone perfect for us and now we get a reset and we get to go try to be perfect. I’m just looking forward to it in my Safelite Toyota Tundra. We are going to race the heck out of them.”
ToytoaCare 250 Recap:
- Grant Enfinger picked up his third Gander Trucks victory of 2020 and fifth of his career finishing 1.033 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Matt Crafton. Ben Rhodes, Brett Moffitt, and Tyler Ankrum rounded out the top-five finishers.
How Eckes’ KBM Teammates Fared:
- Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 12th
- Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 26th
Gander Trucks Championship Standings:
Eckes finished the regular season sixth in the Gander Trucks point standings. The driver of the Safelite Tundra will start the playoffs eighth on the 10-driver playoff grid, two points ahead of the cutoff line. The bottom two drivers will be eliminated after the third event of the Round of 10 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway on Oct. 3.
Eckes will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action on Thursday, Sept. 17 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the UNOH 200 will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 7:30 p.m. ET.