Christian Eckes has a nine-point buffer on the cut line in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series playoff standings after a 19th-place finish at Talladega Superspeedway. The driver of the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST led eight laps and led on an overtime restart before getting shuffled back in the chaotic frenzied draft. Eckes sits third in the playoff standings with one race remaining in the Round of 8.
Eckes began the afternoon from the 16th starting position but instantly moved forward and into the top 10 on the first lap. The three-time race winner this season was constantly aggressive throughout the day by working the second and third lanes of the draft. A lack of committed drafting help during the first 20 laps hampered Eckes’ efforts, and he was scored 18th at the end of Stage 1.
Crew chief Charles Denike brought Eckes to pit road for two right side tires, fuel, and a minor chassis adjustment under the stage caution. Eckes restarted 10th on lap 32 and immediately went to work in the third lane. Once again, a lack of drafting help thwarted Eckes’ advancement, and he was scored 18th at the end of Stage 2 on lap 40.
Eckes pitted a second time for four tires and fuel under the stage caution and restarted 14th for the final stage. He elected to utilize the middle lane to draft towards the front and rapidly climbed to sixth position in two laps. He patiently worked the draft to click off laps inside the top five until a caution on lap 59 allowed him to pit for the final time. After restarting 10th on lap 63, Eckes quickly moved to second but was shuffled out on lap 65. A restart on lap 77 saw Eckes go from 10th back up to second and make a bid for the lead on lap 85.
He led twice during the final 14 laps, including on an overtime restart, and saw the white flag as the race leader. While trying to defend a run from the No. 34 truck in the outside lane, Eckes attempted to block and protect the lead but was hung out without drafting help and took the checkered flag in 19th position.
“We had a dog fight today,” Eckes said after the race. “We went from the back to the front so many different times today, but we put ourselves in position to win the race and just didn’t work out at the end. We had a fast NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet today. Thanks to everyone at MHR for giving us fast trucks everyone. We’ll go to Homestead and try to lock ourselves in there.”
Start / Finish: 16 / 19
Points Standing / Total: 3rd / 3,097 pts. (-24)
Next Race: Saturday, October 21, Homestead-Miami Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: 12:00 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN or SiriusXM