Eckes notches first career Truck Series win in Victoria's Voice Foundation 200
A brilliant late-race restart and a well-timed caution flag helped Christian Eckes score his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in Friday’s Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 presented by Westgate Resorts.
Eckes passed Todd Gilliland with four laps to go and led ThorSport Racing teammates Ben Rhodes, Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter home for a 1-2-3-4 finish in the first race of the Truck Series’ Playoffs Round of 8.
Gilliland won Stage 2 and led a race-high 66 laps, but settled for fifth after losing the lead on a Lap 130 restart to the ThorSport quartet led by Eckes. The 20-year-old Eckes rocketed past Gilliland on the outside and held off Rhodes – thanks in part to a caution for Tyler Hill’s last-lap crash – to open his Truck Series win account.
“You can look at my Racing Reference (statistics) to see how tough it is (to win a race),” Eckes said. “This is big. It’s been a tough year. Hopefully, I proved that I can still do this.”
Eckes signed up for a part-time schedule with ThorSport this season, splitting the No. 98 Toyota with its previous full-time driver, Grant Enfinger. Eckes’ win on Friday marked his first top-10 finish since Kansas Speedway on May 1.
While a non-Playoff driver stole the show, several title contenders met with less-than-stellar outcomes at Las Vegas. The only Playoff drivers to finish in the top 20 were Rhodes, Crafton and Stewart Friesen, who ended up sixth.
John Hunter Nemechek entered Friday with the points lead and started from the pole, but his night peaked far too early. Nemechek led 33 laps and won Stage 1, but was beset by mechanical issues and finished 33rd, 49 laps down.
Sheldon Creed – who entered Friday ranked second in points – finished 36th behind fellow Playoff contender Chandler Smith, who was involved in a hard crash with Creed on Lap 71.
Other Playoff drivers to encounter trouble included Carson Hocevar, who spun on pit road, was penalized a lap and wound up 22nd, and Zane Smith, who finished 29th after sustaining significant left-rear damage from a flat tire.
Las Vegas Motor Speedway’s four-day weekend of excitement continues with Saturday’s Alsco Uniforms 302 NASCAR Xfinity Series race, which goes green at 4:30 p.m. Tickets start at just $34 and are available at www.LVMS.com. Kids 12 and under get in free with a ticketed adult.