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Eckes’ Late Rally at COTA Results in Top-10 Finish

Christian Eckes put on a furious rally on an overtime restart to capture an eighth-place finish on Saturday afternoon at Circuit of the Americas (COTA). The driver of the No. 19 NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet Silverado RST had an eventful, up-and-down afternoon but showcased his resilience by rebounding from two penalties to record his second top-10 result at COTA.

After qualifying 10th on Friday afternoon, Eckes was forced to start at the tail of the field after the NAPA Auto Care team changed transmissions before the race. The New Yorker was undeterred by starting shotgun and rocketed to 14th on the opening lap. An early caution on lap three helped Eckes continue his rapid run to the front on a lap six restart when he cracked the top 10. He maintained his top-five position at the end of Stage 1 on lap 12 to collect six points in fifth position.

Crew chief Charles Denike brought Eckes to pit road for four tires, fuel, and a small adjustment under the first stage caution. Eckes restarted 11th on lap 15 as several trucks stayed on track. He immediately climbed into fifth on lap 18 and took advantage of an impending caution to pit on lap 21 before the yellow flag flew. However, Eckes was nabbed with a penalty for exceeding track limits and was sent to the tail of the field. He restarted 23rd on lap 24 and hustled his way to close Stage 2 in 12th on lap 26.

During the second stage caution, Eckes stayed on track to inherit track position and restarted eighth on lap 29. While running sixth on lap 30, Eckes incurred another track limit violation and ran 26th after serving the penalty under green. With the aid of a caution on lap 38, he restarted 10th on lap 40, but spun at the top of Turn 1 on lap 41. Denike and the NAPA Auto Care team gave Eckes four tires for the two-lap overtime as he restarted 22nd on lap 45 with two laps to go. As the OT green flag dropped, Eckes went on an all-out rampage, slicing through the field in the final two laps to take the checkered flag in eighth position.

“We came from the back at least four times today and felt like we were a top-three truck,” Eckes said. “Our NAPA Auto Care Chevrolet was pretty well balanced but just had too many mistakes on my part. Our team did a great job responding from it to get back to eighth at the end.”

Start / Finish: 10 / 8
Points Standing / Total: 6th / 177 pts. (-30)

Next Race: Friday, April 15, Martinsville Speedway
How to Watch or Listen: FS1, MRN or SiriusXM

NAPA: @NAPARacing
Christian Eckes: @christianeckes
Bill McAnally Racing / McAnally-Hilgemann Racing: @BMR_NASCAR

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