Christian Eckes Digs Through Eldora Dirt Derby to Capture Top-10 Finish
Christian Eckes continued to impress with his first foray on the half-mile clay oval of Eldora Speedway, earning a top-10 with a sixth-place finish in Thursday night's Eldora Dirt Derby in the No. 51 Mobil 1 Tundra. On Wednesday evening, Eckes posted the 12th-fastest time in first practice and the 13th-fastest time in final practice for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series. In the second of five qualifying races on Thursday afternoon, Eckes finished fourth, earning the 17th starting position.
In the only dirt race of the season for the Gander Trucks Series, the green flag flew on Thursday night for 150-laps around the half-mile facility. Eckes took the flag in 17th, but slowly and steadily made his way through the plethora of caution periods, eventually climbing into the top-10 in the final stage and surviving several late-race cautions to earn his fifth career top-10 Gander Trucks finish in eight starts.
Stage One Recap:
- Eckes qualified the No. 51 Mobil 1 Tundra in the 17th position in the second of five qualifying races.
- At the end of the first 40-lap stage, Eckes was 15th.
- Crew chief Rudy Fugle elected to stay out following the stage, although the No. 51 machine was spewing water from the overflow valve due to overheating.
Stage Two Recap:
- Eckes began the second stage in 12th.
- On lap 65, Eckes lost control and spun, triggering a wreck, but sustained minimal damage.
- Eckes finished the 50-lap second stage in the 12th position and Fugle brought him to pit road to cool the No. 51 Toyota Tundra down, change four Goodyear tires and fill it up with Sunoco fuel. Because of the unique format of the race, pit stops were completed during three-minute periods on pit road and crews were able to do whatever work they needed to do.
Stage Three Recap:
- Eckes started the final 60-lap stage in 15th and persevered through a myriad of caution periods near the end of the race.
- With 18 laps to go, the young driver spun out, and restarted in 18th with 12 laps remaining in the race.
- In the final 12 laps, six of those caution laps, the young driver made up 12 positions to finish sixth. Restarting with two laps to go in 12th, he battled through the field and nearly overtook teammate Todd Gilliland for fifth as they came to the checkered flag, earning his fifth career top-10 finish in eight NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series starts.