HAMPTON, Ga. — A speeding penalty, a front-row seat to a sideways truck and a NASCAR Overtime finish were just a few of the things Christian Eckes needed to secure his first win for Bill McAnally Racing.
“I have to thank to the No. 99 of Ben Rhodes, he gave me a big push on that final restart to get out to the lead and then the crash happened right after taking the white flag,” Eckes said after the race.
Eckes lead 35 laps, but a speeding penalty put him deep in the pack and in danger of not even having a shot to win. After the No. 51 spun out of the pack exiting Turn 2, Eckes was forced to dive low and onto the backstretch apron.
“Everyone asked me if last week’s near miss was a pucker factor, today was significantly closer,” Eckes joked.
Saturday’s Fr8 208 was marred by 11 cautions — two for the stage breaks and one that saw a stack up on the restart. Corey Heim ran into the back of Nick Sanchez and laid down fluid all around the race track, which took a significant amount of time to clean up. The frequent cautions, Eckes said, benefitted him.
“I got a lot opportunities to chose [on restarts], and even though a lot of guys were afraid of the bottom today, I decided to take it and gain a lot of spots and make it work,” Eckes said.
This win was important for Eckes in many ways. He locked into the Playoffs and had a strong points day, but also increased his confidence for the rest of the season.
“Every off-season seems to be stressful for me, not knowing what I’m going to be doing the next year,” Eckes said. “I feel I have a lot to prove, and this win helps start that process … I’m driving as hard as I ever have and have a lot to prove to the people who know who they are.”
Eckes is a proven success in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, but ride instability makes a driver question his ability to win. So, what does he feel he needs to do to prove that he deserves a full-time ride for years to come?
“It’s all about winning. This win goes a long way to prove that,” Eckes said. “The more you win poles, races, championships — I need to do that to prove to sponsors and teams that I belong here.”
Most importantly, Eckes believes in himself.
“I just need to win more, which we all want to do.”
Top 10 Results
- Christian Eckes
- Nick Sanchez
- John Hunter Nemechek
- Bayley Currey
- Ben Rhodes
- Matt DiBenedetto
- Chase Purdy
- Timmy Hill
- Matt Crafton
- Jack Wood