Dancing with the Lady … Christian Eckes is looking to rebound during Friday night’s date with “The Lady in Black”. The driver of the No. 19 Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet Silverado enters Darlington Raceway sixth in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) standings and is looking to right the ship after a string of recent misfortune. Eckes and the No. 19 team sat on the pole last weekend at Kansas Speedway before calamity struck, and they look to bring that same speed to the storied banks in Darlington County. Eckes has led the fourth-most laps of all NCTS competitors this season (65), and looks to add to that total on Friday evening.
Honoring Hershel McGriff … Eckes will be carrying one of the most historically throwback paint schemes in the field on Friday night. The No. 19 Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet is honoring recent NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Hershel McGriff with a scheme that replicates his No. 52 Oldsmobile 88 Coupe that he drove cross country to compete in the inaugural Southern 500 in 1950. McGriff owns one of the longest driving careers in motorsports history, which included driving Bill McAnally’s NASCAR Winston West Series (NWWS) car in 2001 during his final full-time season in 2001. McGriff also ran his final race in a McAnally entry in 2018 at the age of 90 years young. McGriff was one of the original west coast trailblazers in the sport, and his career was highlighted by four NASCAR Cup Series wins in 1954 and the 1986 NWWS championship. He’ll be recognized as one of NASCAR’s 75 Greatest drivers on Sunday afternoon prior to the NASCAR Cup Series race at Darlington.
Darlington History … Friday’s 147-lap contest marks Eckes third start at NASCAR’s oldest superspeedway. In two previous starts, Eckes has a best finish of fifth which came in his Darlington debut in September of 2020. He led his first laps at Darlington last season before finishing 17th.
Season to Date … The NCTS regular season hit the halfway point last week at Kansas, and Eckes sits sixth in the championship standings, with one victory at Atlanta Motor Speedway, two top-five and three top-10 finishes. He has earned three stage wins, which is the most of any full-time NCTS competitor, and is third on the provisional playoff grid.
Chassis Selection … Chassis No. 349 gets the call to tango with “The Lady in Black”. This Chevrolet Silverado RST most recently ran inside the top three at Texas Motor Speedway before finishing 14th after a last-lap incident. Chassis No. 349 debuted at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in March with a sixth-place result.
Tune In … FOX Sports 1 will have all on-track activity covered live at Darlington Raceway on Friday, beginning with practice and qualifying at 3:00 p.m. ET. FS1’s coverage continues with NASCAR Raceday at 6:30 p.m. ET followed by the green flag at 7:30 p.m. ET. Stay connected with the No. 19 Gates Hydraulics team by following @BMR_NASCAR on Twitter, @bmrnascar on Instagram, and Bill McAnally Racing on Facebook.
Christian Eckes Quote:
On throwback weekend and racing at Darlington:
“Darlington is such a tricky and unique place to get around. You definitely need to race the racetrack first, stay off the wall, and keep the tires under it all night to be good at the end. It’s a fun challenge as a driver, and definitely an old-school track that requires some patience and tire management. It’s cool to have Hershel McGriff’s paint scheme from the 1950’s on our Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet this weekend. It’s a cool connection since he drove for Bill back in the early 2000’s, so hopefully we can do it some justice and have a good night. All of us on this Gates Hydraulics team want to get finishes that match our speed and gain some of these points back.”