Date: Oct. 25, 2020
Event: SpeedyCash.com 400 (Race 21 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile quad-oval)
Format: Three Stages; 35 laps/35 laps/82 laps
Start/Finish: 10th/25th (Accident, completed 145 of 152 laps)
Winner: Shelden Creed of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Christian Eckes was battling a top three in the closing laps of Sunday’s SpeedyCash.com 400 when Ben Rhodes turned into the left corner panel of the No. 18 Tundra on the frontstretch and sent Eckes hard into the outside wall near the start-finish line. The Safelite Tundra came to rest in the infield grass with severe damage and left Eckes with a disappointing 25th-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- Eckes started from the10th 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 Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
- He advanced to eighth in the opening laps of the stage but fell back to ninth in the middle of the segment as he reported to be in need of more grip.
- The New York native made his way back up to the seventh position when a one-truck accident on Lap 33 brought Stage One to completion under caution.
Stage Two Recap:
- Eckes communicated to veteran crew chief Rudy Fugle that he needed more grip in his Tundra before hitting pit road for four tires and fuel between stages.
- The Safelite Tundra would line up on the outside of the fourth row when Stage Two went green on Lap 40. A one-truck accident put the field under red-flag conditions on lap 44 with Eckes scored in the sixth position.
- Shortly after electing to start from the top of the fourth row again for the ensuing restart, the New York native slid up the track and fell back to the 12th position. Another one-truck accident slowed the field on Lap 52 with the No. 18 Toyota in the 11th spot.
- Eckes this time elected to start in the top of the sixth row and the move paid off as he settled into the ninth position with 10 laps remaining in the stanza.
- Despite being “a little free” in the closing laps, he was able to gain one more position and finish Stage Two in the seventh position.
Final Stage Recap:
- Fugle ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop with a chassis adjustment in an effort to improve the handling of the Safelite Tundra for his young driver.
- A speedy stop by the over-the-wall crew allowed the No. 18 team to line up on the outside of the second row when the Final Stage went green on Lap 77. Eckes would settle into the third position until the field was slowed for the fifth time on Lap 93 for fluid on the track.
- On the ensuing restart, the Safelite Tundra lined up on the bottom of the second row and by the time the field came back to the start-finish line had made his way into the runner-up position.
- A two-truck accident slowed the field for the sixth time on Lap 106 with the 19-year-old driver in the third position. He communicated to Fugle that his Toyota was “a little free.” After the ensuing restart, he lost several positions and was in the seventh spot when the next caution occurred on Lap 118.
- After hitting pit road for four fresh tires and fuel, the rookie driver lined up on the top of the fourth row for the restart on Lap 122 but fell back to eighth when the yellow flag flew for the eighth time on Lap 129.
- The next restart was better for Eckes as he went from the bottom of the third row to battling for a spot inside the top three. With just two laps remaining he was passing Rhodes for the third spot when he got turned into the outside wall and ended his strong run.
- After coming to rest in the infield grass, the No. 18 team’s day was done, and the official result was a 25th-place finish.
Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
How was your Tundra today before the incident and are you okay after a really big hit?
“We had a really fast Safelite Tundra really all day. Super proud of my guys for bringing me a fast and safe Toyota and now we’ll move on to Martinsville. That was a pretty big hit and I’m okay. Just ready to get to Martinsville.”
From your view, what happened between yourself and Ben Rhodes?
“It started with just hard racing and we’ve had this problem before. I’ve raced him (Ben Rhodes) hard, but I race everybody hard and that’s what I’m here to do. We had a little bit of an incident at Las Vegas and all day today, he didn’t really give me much room. Every time we would race side-by-side, if you backed it up to the turn three entry even, he was laying on my quarter panel, which caused me to go up the race track. Sure, I was being aggressive and trying to clear him, but in the same aspect, it’s just hard racing on a one-groove race track. Then he got a little upset and we got straight down the straightaway and I was separated and had a run. Was going to probably clear him and he just turned left as hard as he could and hooked me. You could see that he turned left with the way the truck reacted after he turned me. Unfortunately, it’s just the nature of the business.”
SpeedyCash.com 400 Recap:
- Shelden Creed picked up his fourth NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series of 2020 finishing ahead of Austin Hill. Zane Smith finished third, while Raphael Lessard and Brett Moffitt rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured 10 cautions for a total of 49 laps. There were 14 lead changes among six drivers.
How Eckes’ KBM Teammates Fared:
- Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished fourth
- Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 21st
Gander Trucks Driver Point Standings:
With two races remaining this season, Eckes sits ninth in the Gander Trucks point standings.
Eckes will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action on Friday, Oct. 30 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. Live coverage of the NASCAR Hall of Fame 200 will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 8 p.m. ET.