Date: June 23, 2018
Event: Eaton 200 (Race 10 of 23)
Series: NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS)
Location: Gateway Motorsports Park in Madison, Ill. (1.25-mile oval)
Format: Three Stages; 35 laps/35 laps/90 laps
Start/Finish: 2nd/28th (Accident, completed 76 of 160 laps)
Winner: Justin Haley of GMS Racing (Chevrolet)
In just his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start, Christian Eckes showcased his driving abilities leading 34 laps and winning the second stage of Saturday’s Eaton 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park. Unfortunately, the talented teenager got wrecked while running fourth just seven laps into the Final Stage of the event and sustained major damage to this Mobil 1 Tundra. The talented teenager would end the night in the garage with a disappointing 28th-place finish.
Stage One Recap:
- Eckes posted the second fastest time in Saturday afternoon’s qualifying session. In the early stages of the race, he would swap spots with teammate Noah Gragson, who started third, before settling into the fourth position on lap 3.
- He had moved back up one spot to the third position when the first caution of the race occurred on lap 22. With the No. 46 team running a limited schedule and not focused on stage points, Crew chief Cody Glick elected to pit for left-side tires in an effort to gain track position for Stage Two.
- The Mobil 1 Tundra would restart 12th with eight laps remaining in the stage and was able to gain five positions before the second caution of the race occurred on lap 34 ending Stage One.
Stage Two Recap:
- Having pitted already, Eckes inherited the lead when the top-six trucks turned down pit road when it opened. Stage Two went green on lap 41 and the talented teenager slowly began to pull away from the field. He had opened up over a two-second lead on Johnny Sauter when a stalled truck brought out the caution with four laps remaining in the stage. The stage would end under caution, giving the New York native the first stage victory of his young career.
Final Stage Recap:
- When pit road opened, Glick summoned his young driver to pit road for fresh left-side tires and a full tank of fuel. Eckes would be the second truck off pit road and line up next to teammate Noah Gragson for the start of the Final Stage.
- After the Final Stage went green on lap 75, the outside lane had a strong restart and Eckes fell back to the fourth spot before falling in line. One lap later, Stewart Friesen overdrove Turn 1 trying to pass Eckes and after getting loose slid up into the left rear of the Mobil 1 Tundra, turned it and sent it spinning.
- Eckes did a 360-degree spin trying to avoid contact with the wall but ended up slamming rear end first into the outside of Turn 2. He was able to drive his Toyota to pit road, but the damage was too severe to continue.
Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 46 Mobil 1 Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:
Are you okay?
“Yeah, I am great. I feel fine. It’s just unfortunate. These guys worked really hard today and brought me a really fast truck. It was definitely good enough to win. We won a stage. It’s just unfortunate.”
How do you describe this?
“I don’t really know. It’s unfortunate as I said. My Mobil 1 and KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) guys worked really hard and brought me a fantastic truck. It’s unfortunate for it to end like that but I have two more shots with this at Martinsville (Speedway) and Phoenix (Raceway) at the end of the year and I am looking forward to coming back for that.”
Eaton 200 Recap:
- Justin Haley collected his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory. KBM driver Todd Gilliland finished 0.753 seconds behind Haley in the runner-up position. Johnny Sauter finished third while Myatt Snider and Zane Smith rounded out the top-five finishers.
- The race featured nine cautions for a total of 53 laps. There were seven lead changes among seven drivers. Eckes led once for 34 laps total. He has led a lap in each of his first two career NCWTS starts.
How Eckes’ KBM Teammates Fared:
- Todd Gilliland, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished second
- Riley Herbst, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished eighth
- Noah Gragson, driver of the No. 18 Toyota, finished 10th
Eckes will be back behind the wheel of the No. 46 Tundra Oct. 27 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.