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ECKES LAYS DOWN STRONG RUN, FINISHES 33RD AT POCONO

6/29/2020

ECKES LAYS DOWN STRONG RUN, FINISHES 33RD AT POCONO

Date: June 28, 2020

Event: Pocono Organics 150 (Race 6 of 23)

Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

Location: Pocono (Pa.) Raceway (2.5-mile superspeedway)

Format: Stages; 15 laps/15 laps/30 laps

Start/Finish: 4th/33rd (Accident, completed 48 of 60 laps)

Winner: Brandon Jones of Kyle Busch Motorsports (Toyota) 

Christian Eckes suffered heartbreak in the rain-delayed NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series Pocono Organics 150 to Benefit Farm Aid at Pocono Raceway, suffering a flat tire and hitting the wall while leading in the No. 18 Safelite Tundra with 11 laps remaining in the event. The event was originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, but due to schedule constraints and inclement weather, it was delayed until 9:30 in the morning on Sunday, making the first three-series triple header in NASCAR history. The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender finished 11th in Stage One, second in Stage Two and in the Final Stage was leading when he brought out the yellow with 11 laps to go. The incident relegated him to a 33rd-place finish.  

The late-race incident dropped Eckes to sixth in the Gander Truck Series driver point standings, 74 behind points leader Austin Hill with six races complete in the regular season. 

Stage One Recap: 

  • Eckes started from the fourth spot via a random draw in tiers based on 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series points. Amidst three cautions and two red flags in the first 15-lap stage, Eckes fell to 11th during the six green flag laps.
  • The young driver, suffering from a sinus infection and blown ear drum, reported that his Safelite Toyota Tundra was good, but that he was losing positions during restarts.
  • Following the conclusion of the stage, crew chief Rudy Fugle opted to keep the No. 18 Tundra on track.

Stage Two Recap:

  • Eckes started Stage Two in the eighth position after staying out.
  • The young driver began to gain positions as the race was paused again on Lap 24, and Fugle again kept him on the race track.
  • The No. 18 Safelite Tundra was scored in second when the caution flag flew on Lap 29, which ended the second stage.
  • Under the stage break, Fugle brought him to pit road for two fresh right side tires and Sunoco fuel. While on pit road, Eckes made contact with another vehicle.

Final Stage Recap:

  • Eckes began the Final Stage in 10th, but quickly moved toward the front.
  • When the yellow flag flew for the seventh time on lap 36, Eckes was scored in fourth.
  • On the restart, Eckes lined up in third, and under the longest green flag run of the race he made his way to the front, taking the lead on lap 39.
  • The New York native had pulled away from teammate Brandon Jones when a tire issue sent him spinning from the lead, and ultimately ended his day on lap 49, with just 11 laps remaining in the event, relegating him to a 33rd-place finish.

Christian Eckes, driver of the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports:

How do you describe that issue – leading and have a tire problem?

“Yeah, it sucks for sure. Probably done by me. We had a little contact on pit road – it might have created a rub or something. I don’t know. They said everything was clear, but who knows. We had a really fast Safelite Toyota Tundra; we could just never get track position. We finally got there at the end and blew a tire, so I guess we will go to Kentucky.” 

Pocono Organics 150 Recap:

  • Brandon Jones earned his first career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory. Austin Hill finished second, Sheldon Creed crossed the stripe in third, Todd Gilliland was fourth and Ben Rhodes rounded out the top-five finishers
  • The race featured nine cautions for a total of 29 of 60 laps. There were eight lead changes among five drivers. Eckes led once for 10 laps.

How Eckes’ KBM Teammates Fared:

  • Brandon Jones, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished first
  • Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 37th

Gander Trucks Championship Standings:  

Eckes dropped four positions to sixth in the Gander Truck Series championship standings. With six races complete, the rookie of the year candidate sits 74 tallies behind points leader Austin Hill.

Next Race:  

Eckes will be back behind the wheel of the No. 18 Safelite Tundra when the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series resumes action July 11 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta. Live coverage of the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 begins Saturday at 6:00 p.m. ET on FS1.

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