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Christian Eckes to make 100th Truck career start at Darlington

In his fourth full-time campaign in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series, Christian Eckes is poised to achieve a milestone start of his own. By taking the green flag in this weekend’s Buckle Up South Carolina 200 at Darlington Raceway, the driver of the No. 19 McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet Silverado RST will reach 100 career starts in the Truck circuit.  

A native of Greenville, New York, Eckes, winner of the 2016 Snowball Derby and Myrtle Beach 400, made his Truck Series debut at Iowa Speedway in June 2018. By then, he was competing on a part-time basis in the ARCA Menards Series for Venturini Motorsports and was coming off his first career victory at Salem Speedway. Driving the No. 46 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Eckes started ninth and finished eighth in his series debut. In the following event at World Wide Technology Raceway, he led 34 laps and won the second stage before ending up in 28th place following a late wreck after he got bumped and turned by Stewart Friesen into the outside wall entering the backstretch. Eckes would return for his third Truck career start at Martinsville Speedway in October, where he finished ninth, before finishing ninth for the third time in his career at Phoenix Raceway in November. 

The following season, Eckes, who contended for the ARCA Menards Series championship for Venturini Motorsports, made a total of eight Truck Series starts in the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota entry. His first start occurred during the season-opening event at Daytona International Speedway, where he started on pole position for the first time in his career. Despite leading the first lap, Eckes ended up 22nd after being involved in two late incidents. His next start occurred at World Wide Technology Raceway in June, where he started on pole, led a race-high 57 laps and was contending for the victory until he got turned by Friesen on the final lap and dropped to 14th place in the final running order.

He would then finish fourth, sixth, and 15th during his next three starts at Pocono Raceway, Eldora Speedway and Michigan International Speedway, respectively, before finishing third at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in September and 17th at Martinsville in October, both of which he started on pole position. During the season-finale event at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the New York native started on the front row and led 26 laps before settling in third place on the track and delivering the seventh Truck Series owner’s championship for Kyle Busch Motorsports. By then, Eckes, who had notched three top-five results, four top-10 results and an average-finishing result of 10.8 through eight Truck starts, had also claimed the 2019 ARCA championship. 

Following two strong part-time seasons, Eckes moved up to the Truck Series on a full-time basis in 2020 behind the wheel of the No. 18 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, where he contended for the Rookie-of-the-Year title. After commencing the season by finishing no higher than 14th during the first three scheduled events, he notched his first top-five result of the season by finishing third at Atlanta. He then claimed two top-10 results during his next three starts before posting a career-best runner-up result behind team owner Kyle Busch at Texas Motor Speedway in July. Eckes then claimed back-to-back runner results at Kansas Speedway and at Michigan International Speedway, respectively, before posting a single top-five result within the final five regular-season events.

By then, Eckes managed to qualify for the 2020 Truck Series Playoffs based on points. His Playoff run, however, came to an early end following respective finishes of 17th, eighth and 18th during the Round of 10. Managing three top-six finishes during the final four-scheduled events, including back-to-back fourth-place runs at Martinsville and Phoenix, Eckes settled in eighth place in the final driver’s standings and in the runner-up spot behind Zane Smith for the rookie title. 

After being released by Kyle Busch Motorsports following the 2020 season, Eckes joined ThorSport Racing and competed on a part-time basis in the 2021 Truck Series season while sharing the No. 98 Toyota Tundra with Grant Enfinger. His first start occurred at the Daytona International Speedway Road Course in February, where he finished 10th. He then finished ninth and fourth, respectively, during his next two events at Las Vegas and Kansas before managing three top-15 results during his next five starts. Then at Las Vegas in September, Eckes capitalized on a four-lap shootout to capture his first Truck Series career victory in his 44th series start and amid a historic 1-2-3-4 finish for ThorSport Racing. Eckes would conclude the 2021 season in sixth place during the season-finale at Phoenix as ThorSport Racing’s No. 98 entry ended up in ninth place in the final owner’s standings. 

Achieving a full-time ride in ThorSport Racing’s No. 98 entry for the 2022 Truck season, Eckes commenced the season on a high note by finishing third at Daytona. He then recorded two top-six results during the following six events on the schedule before posting four consecutive top-five results, including two runner-up finishes, during his next four starts. With three additional top-10 results occurring during the final five regular-season events, Eckes made his second career appearance in the Truck Series Playoffs as a title contender. Following respective finishes of 16th, eighth and 10th throughout the Round of 10, he transferred into the Round of 8. Despite finishing no lower than eighth during the Round of 8, Eckes did not transfer into the Championship 4 round and would conclude the season in eighth place in the final standings. By then, Eckes claimed a career-high stat in top 10s (15) and posted a career-best average-finishing result of 10.9 as a full-time competitor. 

The 2023 season presented another new beginning for Eckes, who departed ThorSport and joined McAnally-Hilgemann Racing to drive the No. 19 Chevrolet Silverado RST on a full-time basis, where he replaced the 2019 ARCA Menards Series West champion, Derek Kraus. After settling in third place during the season-opening event at Daytona followed by a sixth-place finish at Las Vegas amid a wild save while being sideways, the New York native capitalized on an overtime shootout to edge rookie Nick Sanchez on the final lap and at the moment of caution to grab his second Truck Series career victory at Atlanta in March. Amid respective finishes of 30th, 15th, 30th, 15th and 30th during his next five starts, Eckes capitalized on two overtime shootouts to grab his second Truck victory of the season at Darlington Raceway in May. He would then notch four top-seven results, including two top-three results, during his next six events before officially qualifying for the Playoffs.

Commencing the 2023 Playoffs by finishing second at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway followed by a third-place finish at the Milwaukee Mile and winning the Round of 10 finale at Kansas, Eckes raced his way into the Round of 8. Despite achieving a runner-up result during the Round of 8 opener at Bristol Motor Speedway in September, he finished 19th and 20th during the next two Round of 8 events, which were not enough for him to make the Championship 4 round by a mere margin. Despite falling short of contending for his first Truck Series championship, Eckes capped off the 2023 season by scoring a career-high fourth victory of the season at Phoenix, which was enough to settle in a career-high fifth place in the final standings. By then, he achieved a career-high 10 top-five results, three poles, a career-high 351 laps led and an average-finishing result of 11.1. 

This season, Eckes has achieved dominant victories at two short track venues: Bristol in March and Martinsville Speedway in early April. To go along with a total of four top-five results and top-10 finishes in all but one of the first eight events on the 2024 schedule, Eckes is currently ranked in second place in the driver’s standings and trails points leader Corey Heim by seven points. 

Through 99 previous Truck starts, Eckes has achieved seven victories, seven poles, 34 top-five results, 58 top-10 results, 1,119 laps led and an average-finishing result of 11.4 as he continues his pursuit for his first Truck Series championship. 

Christian Eckes is scheduled to make his 100th Craftsman Truck Series career start at Darlington Raceway for the Buckle Up South Carolina 200. The event is set to occur this upcoming Friday, May 10, and air at 7:30 p.m. ET on FS1. 

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of


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