The Next Step: Round 2 … Christian Eckes continues his title quest at Bristol Motor Speedway (BMS) on Thursday night as the second round of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) playoffs begins. The driver of the No. 19 Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet Silverado RST is coming off his third victory of 2023 at Kansas Speedway last Friday night and blitzed through the first round of the playoffs with finishes of second, third, and first. Eckes topped all playoff contenders with an average finish of second in the opening round and scored 149 of a possible 180 points. The No. 19 team have positioned themselves as one of the elite forces in the series and are focused on continuing their playoff run at the “Last Great Colosseum”.
Reaching Another Level … No matter what the sport, prime playoff performers elevate their compete level in the most crucial moments, and that’s exactly what Eckes has done recently. Since his third-place finish at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on July 8th, Eckes has been a model of consistency with four podium finishes and five finishes of seventh or better in the last six races. In the most recent short track event to begin the playoffs, Eckes was rock solid with a runner-up performance at Indianapolis Raceway Park and looks to parlay that into another strong effort at BMS. Eckes scored an eighth-place finish at “Thunder Valley” last season, his best result in two races on the BMS concrete. Crew chief Charles Denike went to victory lane at BMS in 2020 with Sam Mayer and guided the No. 19 team to earn the pole position last season with driver Derek Kraus.
Season to Date … As a result of his playoff victory at Kansas, Eckes begins the Round of 8 second in the NCTS standings, six markers behind the lead. He starts the second round with a two-point advantage over the cut line as eight drivers vie for four spots in the championship race. Eckes has constructed the best season of his young career with three wins, eight top-five finishes and 11 top-10 finishes. His 157 laps led are just 22 circuits shy of a career high and he brings an average finish of 11.3 into BMS.
Tune In … Coverage from the “Last Great Colosseum” beings at 4:00 p.m. ET on FOX Sports 2 with practice and qualifying. FOX Sports 1 continues BMS’ coverage with NASCAR Raceday at 8:00 p.m. ET followed by the green flag at 9:00 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 beginning the second round at Bristol with momentum:
“We performed really well as a team in the first round, but we need to do it all over again now. Bristol is one of the most demanding tracks that we go to, but I have all the confidence in our Gates Hydraulics Chevrolet, Charles (Denike), and our entire team that we can keep this momentum going. Last week was a big moment for our team to win a playoff race at Kansas after running so well for the last couple months. We’re all focused on continuing to do the things that got us here and hopefully we can be one of the trucks to beat at the end of the night at Bristol.”