TRUCK: Christian Eckes scores OT win in wild Trucks race at Atlanta


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HAMPTON, — Christian Eckes finished where he started Saturday’s Fr8 208 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway — with a lot of turmoil in between.

Eckes claimed his second victory in the series in overtime, choosing the bottom lane and front-row position for a restart on lap 136 of 137.

After leading the first 30-lap stage of the race wire-to-wire, however, Eckes sped on pit road and lost track position. He spent the rest of the event working his way back to the front.

In a race that featured a record 11 cautions for 58 laps, the driver of the No. 19 Chevrolet restarted 13th on Lap 103, but three yellow flags later, he was on the inside of the front row beside leader and ultimate runner-up finisher Nick Sanchez for the overtime restart.

Eckes surged ahead, took the white flag in the lead and was in front when NASCAR called the final caution of the race for a wreck in Turn 4 involving Tyler Ankrum, Stewart Friesen and defending series champion Zane Smith.

“It’s been a tough offseason,” said Eckes, in his first year with owner Bill McAnally after driving for ThorSport Racing in 2022. “I’m driving harder than I ever have — I have a lot to prove. The people know who they are.

“I’m really happy. Thanks to (crew chief) Charles (Denike), everybody on this team. They work so damn hard. This is what makes it all worth it. I’m pumped. It’s going to be a really good year.”

John Hunter Nemechek ran third after leading a race-high 53 laps to Eckes’ 35. Nemechek had the lead for a restart on Lap 121, but was shuffled back in traffic.

Bayley Currey finished fourth, earning his first NASCAR national series top-five finish, and Ben Rhodes came home fifth after giving Eckes a much-needed push to the lead.

Matt DiBenedetto, Chase Purdy, Timmy Hill, Matt Crafton and Jack Wood completed the top 10.

NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series Race – Fr8 208
Atlanta Motor Speedway — Hampton, Ga.

1. (4) Christian Eckes, Chevrolet, 137.
2. (20) Nick Sanchez #, Chevrolet, 137.
3. (24) John Hunter Nemechek(i), Toyota, 137.
4. (30) Bayley Currey(i), Chevrolet, 137.
5. (3) Ben Rhodes, Ford, 137.
6. (10) Matt DiBenedetto, Chevrolet, 137.
7. (9) Chase Purdy, Chevrolet, 137.
8. (18) Timmy Hill, Toyota, 137.
9. (8) Matt Crafton, Ford, 137.
10. (17) Jack Wood, Chevrolet, 137.
11. (2) Ty Majeski, Ford, 137.
12. (32) Hailie Deegan, Ford, 137.
13. (33) Bret Holmes #, Chevrolet, 137.
14. (35) Ryan Vargas, Toyota, 137.
15. (25) Kris Wright, Chevrolet, 137.
16. (19) Daniel Dye #, Chevrolet, 137.
17. (34) Akinori Ogata, Toyota, 137.
18. (12) Jake Garcia #, Chevrolet, 137.
19. (7) Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 137.
20. (1) Zane Smith, Ford, 137.
21. (27) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, 137.
22. (14) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 137.
23. (28) Josh Reaume, Ford, 137.
24. (11) Tanner Gray, Toyota, 137.
25. (22) Rajah Caruth #, Chevrolet, 137.
26. (13) Tyler Ankrum, Toyota, 136.
27. (15) Colby Howard, Chevrolet, Track Bar, 134.
28. (23) Layne Riggs, Toyota, 134.
29. (26) Mason Massey, Ford, 134.
30. (16) Dean Thompson, Toyota, 131.
31. (5) Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, Accident, 127.
32. (21) Lawless Alan, Chevrolet, Accident, 126.
33. (29) Kaden Honeycutt, Ford, 123.
34. (6) Corey Heim, Toyota, Accident, 83.
35. (31) Mason Maggio, Chevrolet, Accident, 52.
36. (36) Keith McGee(i), Ford, Transmission, 7.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 92.344 mph

Time of Race: 2 Hrs, 17 Mins, 5 Secs. Margin of Victory: Caution Seconds

Caution Flags: 11 for 58 laps

Lead Changes: 17 among 9 drivers

Lap Leaders: Z. Smith 0;C. Eckes 1-32;M. Crafton 33-44;K. Honeycutt 45;M. Crafton 46-62;K. Wright 63;J. Nemechek(i) 64-79;T. Hill 80-81;J. Nemechek(i) 82-103;J. Wood 104;J. Nemechek(i) 105-112;J. Wood 113;J. Nemechek(i) 114-120;B. Rhodes 121-122;N. Sanchez # 123-128;B. Rhodes 129;N. Sanchez # 130-134;C. Eckes 135-137

Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): John Hunter Nemechek(i) 4 times for 53 laps; Christian Eckes 2 times for 35 laps; Matt Crafton 2 times for 29 laps; Nick Sanchez # 2 times for 11 laps; Ben Rhodes 2 times for 3 laps; Jack Wood 2 times for 2 laps; Timmy Hill 1 time for 2 laps; Kris Wright 1 time for 1 lap; Kaden Honeycutt 1 time for 1 lap

Stage #1 Top Ten: 19,38,23,88,25,98,52,99,4,35

Stage #2 Top Ten: 88,98,17,99,11,38,16,23,52,2

–By Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service. Special to Field Level Media


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