Christian Eckes led the most laps, 82 of 158, and held on through two overtimes Friday night to claim victory in the Buckle Up South Carolina 200 at Darlington Raceway. The win was even more rewarding after lackluster finishes in the previous five races this season of three 30th place and two 15th place results.
“I don’t really feel that excited, because the truck was so good it drove itself,” Eckes said, adding, “It’s been a really, really rough couple of weeks.”
“To come back and win shows the resilience of this team, and how we had to win it just shows the fight in this team. I was really determined. It’s really, really fun to be here, man, and when you have a truck like this, you’ve just got to finish it out.”
“We needed a little bit longer runs, I think,” he said. “Our truck was strong on longer runs – we just had too many medium to short runs, and it was hard to get track position there to advance forward.
Stewart Friesen finished second posting this third top-10 result of 2023. Tanner Gray, William Byron, and Carson Hocevar completed the top five at Darlington. Rajah Caruth finished sixth and was the highest-finishing rookie.
Full-time Cup Series driver Bryon, was piloting the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports entry, and won Stage 2, but had to settle for a fourth-place finish.
“Hopefully, we learned some stuff for the Cup race. We usually run really good here, so it’s just a matter of trying to put it all together and learn some nuances with the race track, so hopefully we did that.”
Zane Smith currently leads the driver standings with 338 points, followed by Ty Majeski (-9), Corey Heim (-15), Ben Rhodes (-37) Christian Eckes (-39), Grant Enfinger (-39), Matt Crafton (-78), Tanner Gray (-84), Nick Sanchez (-105) and Stewart Friesen (-111).
The first two stages of the race were caution-free, excluding state breaks, but the final stage had six cautions with two overtime attempts to finish under green flag conditions.
Next weekend the Truck Series travels to North Wilkesboro Speedway. Television coverage will be provided by FOX, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio.