Date: Feb. 15, 2019
Event: NextEra Energy Resources 250 (Race 1 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Raceway (2.5-mile Tri-oval)
Format: Three Segments; 20 laps/20 laps/60 laps
Start/Finish: 1st / 22nd (accident, completed 61 of 111 laps)
Winner: Austin Hill of Hattori Racing Enterprises (Toyota)
Christian Eckes made his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start at Daytona, earning the pole position in the No. 51 SiriusXM Toyota Tundra and running within the top-10 for much of the event before being collected in a wreck in the final stage. Crew chief Rudy Fugle and the 51 team made a valiant attempt to repair the damage, but after restarting the race, the 51 was unable to continue. Only nine trucks finished the NextEra Energy 250. This was Eckes’ first pole in five starts in the NGOTS with a lap of 49.287 seconds, 182.604 mph.
Stage One Recap:
- For the second year in a row, a KBM Toyota Tundra sat on the pole for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona. Last year veteran driver David Gilliland was behind this wheel, and this year 18-year-old Eckes earned the pole in just his fifth NGOTS start.
- Eckes led the first lap, but fell back to third, where he remained for the rest of the stage. At the end of stage one, crew chief Rudy Fugle brought him to pit road for two left-side tires and fuel.
Stage Two Recap:
- Eckes started the next 20-lap stage in 11th and under a caution on lap 28, came to pit road for two right-side tires, and then returned to top-off fuel and double check lug nuts. At the end of the second stage the teenager was scored in the 17th position.
Stage Three Recap:
- After the second stage, on lap 43, Eckes pitted for fuel only, but was penalized after his fuel handler was unable to remove the gas can before his SiriusXM Tundra exited the pit box. Due to the penalty, he was required to restart the race at the tail end of the field, miring him in traffic. He quickly made his way back into the top 10, but on lap 57, the No. 51 was collected in a multi-truck accident.
- Fugle and the No. 51 team attempted to repair the damage and Eckes was able to restart the race, but soon the damage proved too much, and he was unable to continue, ending his night on lap 61.
CHRISTIAN ECKES, driver of the No. 51 SiriusXM Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
What happened that took you out of the race?
“We fell back there on that pit stop, I think we had a gas can stick or something. We were on our way back to the front and I’m not sure what happened, but then we caught on fire a few laps after that. Disappointing end to the day, but I’m really proud of my SiriusXM guys, they brought me a really fast Toyota Tundra. We’ll have to move on to the next one.”
NextEra Energy Resources 250 Recap:
- Austin Hill won the race, followed by Grant Enfinger, Ross Chastain, Spencer Boyd and Matt Crafton rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The chaotic race featured eleven cautions for a total of 55 laps. There were 15 lead changes among 10 drivers. Eckes led once for one lap and KBM teammate Todd Gilliland led once for one lap.
How Eckes’ KBM Teammates Fared:
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 19th
- Harrison Burton, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 18th
NGOTS Driver Championship Standings:
The No. 51 team leaves the first race of the season ranked 22nd in the Truck Series Owner’s Championship Standings, 25 points out of first.
Team owner Kyle Busch will be behind the wheel of the No. 51 Cessna Tundra when the Truck Series returns to action February 23 at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Ga. Live coverage of the Atlanta 200 begins at 4:30 p.m. ET on FS1.