Date: Sept. 17, 2020
Event: UNOH 200 (Race 17 of 23, Race 1 of 3 in the Round of 10)
Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway (0.533-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 55 laps/55 laps/90 laps
Start/Finish: 10th/12th (Running, completed 200 of 200 laps)
Winner: Sam Mayer of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
Christian Eckes finished each of the first two stages of Thursday’s UNOH 200 in the 10th position and went on to finish the 200-lap event in the 12th position. After initially finishing 13th, the Safelite Tundra moved up one position when the fifth-place truck was disqualified in post-race inspection.
Eckes, who entered the playoffs in the eighth position two points above the cutoff line, fell to the ninth position, two points below the cutoff line after the first of three races in the Round of 10.
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 Richmond (Va.) Raceway.
- In the opening laps, he advanced up to the eighth position before the field was slowed the first time for a two-truck accident on Lap 8. He restarted on the inside of the third row on Lap 13 and was scored in the seventh position on Lap 25.
- In the closing laps of the opening stage he would fall back to the 10th position and gain just one stage point.
Stage Two Recap:
- Eckes communicated to Fugle that his Toyota was “loose entry and exit,” before hitting pit road for four fresh tires, a chassis adjustment and full load of fuel.
- The Safelite Tundra would line up on the outside of the sixth row for the ensuing restart on Lap 68. When the third caution of the race occurred on Lap 82, he was scored in the 10th position, but reported that he was happy with the handling of his truck.
- Eckes remained in the 10th position when Stage Two came to completion at lap 110, earning another stage point.
Final Stage Recap:
- Eckes communicated that his Tundra “needs more overall grip,” before he hit pit road for four fresh tires, a full load of fuel and a chassis adjustment between stages.
- The Safelite Tundra lined up on the outside of the fifth row when the Final Stage went green on Lap 119. Eckes had fallen back to the 12th position when the final caution of the night occurred on Lap 156. Fugle summoned his young driver to pit road for four fresh tires, a trackbar adjustment and enough fuel to make it to the end of the event.
- The No. 18 Toyota lined up on the outside of row seven for the ensuing restart on lap 166. He would fall back to 16th early in the final green-flag run but used the fresh tires to his advantage in the closing laps of the race to bring home a 13th-place result when the field crossed the stripe. A disqualification of the fifth-place truck in post-race inspection allowed Eckes to officially be credited with a 12th-place finish.
Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Not the finish you wanted. How was your race as a whole tonight?
“We tried hard. We just didn’t make it happen. Had an okay Safelite Tundra at times, just fought track position all night and really weren’t good enough to pass. I’m ready for Vegas.”
You ran really strong at Las Vegas in the spring. What is your focus for that race?
“Just building on our last race. We ran really well there. Of course, we got in a crash, but I thought we had a Tundra to at least run second to Kyle (Busch), if not, win. We will try to hit it hard this week and try to figure it out, because we definitely missed it this week. On to the next one.”
UNOH 200 Recap:
- Seventeen-year-old driver Sam Mayer picked up the first Gander Trucks victory of his career finishing 4.413 seconds ahead of runner-up finisher Brett Moffitt. Tanner Gray, Parker Kligerman, and Chandler Smith rounded out the top-five finishers.
How Eckes’ KBM Teammates Fared:
- Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished fifth
- Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 18th
Gander Trucks Championship Standings:
Eckes falls one spot to ninth on the Gander Trucks Playoff grid after the first race of the Round of 10. He sits two points behind the cutoff line for advancing to the Round of 8. 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 Friday Sept. 25 at Las Vegas (Nev.) Motor Speedway. Live coverage of the World of Westgate 200 will be on FS1, Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM at 9 p.m. ET.