Date: July 11, 2020

Event: Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 (Race 7 of 23)

Series: NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series

Location: Kentucky Speedway (1.5-mile tri-oval)

Format: Three Stages; 35 laps/35 laps/1 lap (rain shortened)

Start/Finish: 4th/6th (Running, completed 71 of 71 laps)

Winner: Shelden Creed of GMS Racing (Chevrolet) 

Christian Eckes had a fast Safelite Tundra in Saturday evening’s Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway, but found it tough to pass on the one-groove racetrack. Eckes was scored in the sixth position when lightning red-flagged the event shortly after the completion of Stage Two. Heavy rains began to fall shortly after the lightning delay, and once the track was deemed to be lost, NASCAR deemed the race official since two stages had been completed. 

Stage One Recap: 

  • Eckes started from the fourth spot via a random draw in tiers based on 2020 NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Series points. He had gained one position when the first caution of the race occurred on lap 3.
  • After restarting on the inside lane, he lost two positions and was scored in the 5th spot on Lap 10. He reported that his Safelite Tundra was lacking rear grip before the second caution of the event occurred on lap 14.
  • Eckes would cross the stripe to complete the opening stage in the fourth position on Lap 35. 

Stage Two Recap:

  • Before hitting pit road for the first time, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender reiterated to veteran crew chief Rudy Fugle that he needed more rear stability in his Toyota.
  • Fugle ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop with an air pressure adjustment in an effort to improve the handling for Eckes. The over-the-wall crew returned Eckes to the track scored in the eighth position when Stage Two went green on Lap 41.
  • Eckes gained two positions on the restart quickly before a caution flew on Lap 43. On the ensuing restart, he gained two more spot and was scored in the fourth position when the next caution occurred.
  • After the field went back green, Eckes was trying to make a pass for the third spot and got loose and washed up the racetrack. He would fall back to the seventh position momentarily, but before Stage Two came to a halt on Lap 70.  Shortly after Stage Two came to completion, lightning in the area forced NASCAR to red flag the race and bring the trucks to pit road. Once the heavy rain began to fall, NASCAR called the race official since two stages were complete. 

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

How was your race today?

“Finished in the sixth position today. I felt like we had a Tundra that could have contended for the win today. Just wish we could have fired back off. I don’t think I’ve ever been that excited to get back in my truck. Just unfortunately Mother Nature wasn’t agreeing with us. It was a good day and something we can definitely build on. We were able to minimize mistakes. The whole Safelite team did a great job and brought me a great truck. We’ll move on to Texas and it’s going to be a challenging one with the boss there, but hopefully we can go and get a win there.”

Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 Recap:

  • Sheldon Creed picked up his first career NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series victory. Ben Rhodes finished in the runner-up position, Matt Crafton came home third, Johnny Sauter was fourth and Austin Hill rounded out the top-five finishers.
  • The race featured seven cautions for a total of 25 laps. There were eight lead changes among six drivers. Eckes failed to lead a lap for the first time in four races.

How Eckes’ KBM Teammates Fared:

  • Raphael Lessard, driver of the No. 4 Toyota, finished 13th
  • Chandler Smith, driver of the No. 51 Toyota, finished 22nd 

Gander Trucks Championship Standings:  

Eckes, the rookie of the year candidate, gained two positions to fourth in the championship standings and after seven events sits 71 tallies behind points leader Austin Hill. Eckes currently sits fifth on the 10-driver Gander Trucks playoff grid with regulars Grant Enfinger and Sheldon Creed having picked up victories this season.

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 18 at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Live coverage of the Vankor 350 begins Saturday at 8 p.m. ET on FS1.