NASCAR Truck Series

Christian Eckes wins maiden Truck race in ThorSport 1–2–3–4

3 Mins read
Credit: Steph Chambers/Getty Images

The first round of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoffs was dominated by Sheldon CreedJohn Hunter Nemechek, and Chandler Smith. The second round, on the other hand, have forced them into an uphill battle after just one race as wrecks in Friday’s Victoria’s Voice 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway took out many playoff hopefuls. Christian Eckes and his ThorSport Racing team-mates were on the lucky side as they finished 1–2–3–4, with Eckes scoring his maiden Truck win.

Kyle Busch Motorsports team-mates Nemechek and Smith, who respectively finished third and first in the last race at Bristol, started on the front row. While Nemechek led every lap to win Stage #1, Todd Gilliland leapfrogged Smith for second. Ben RhodesStewart FriesenZane Smith, Eckes, Creed, Austin Hill, and Tyler Ankrum rounded out the top ten. The lone incident of the opening stage came just five laps in when Chris Hacker spun and hit the wall; he subsequently tweeted“Learned the definition of ‘dirty air’ tonight… sad to experience it but not much I could’ve done.”

Nemechek’s night began to sputter when engine problems caused him to fall off the pace. He eventually stopped on the track on lap 54 for the only race-related caution (the other was for debris on lap 41). Meanwhile, Gilliland dominated the stage to win ahead of Rhodes, Carson Hocevar, Friesen, Creed, Tanner Gray, Hill, Matt Crafton, Eckes, and Smith.

It was only five laps into Stage #3 before Creed and Smith found themselves as the next playoff victims: Ankrum spun and collected Smith; as Smith’s truck rolled onto the apron billowing smoke, Creed tried to speed through but could not avoid Smith and slammed into him, setting Creed’s truck ablaze. Hailie Deegan also spun into Ankrum, resulting in damage for the two.

“Tyler got loose up at the top. He got completely sideways,” said Smith. “Some tracks like this I’ve got experience with, they come back down the race track and take a good portion of the field with them. My spotter told me to go low. I should have listened to him. It’s completely my fault. I went high, I went with my gut, and bit the bullet for it. It is what it is.”

At the front, Hocevar led until the wreck, from which Hill became the leader on the restart. Nemechek’s truck stopped yet again for another caution and Gilliland went back into the top spot for the ensuing green-flag run. Jack Wood and Drew Dollar tangled on lap 115 for a yellow.
Despite a solid performance to begin Stage #3 as he led eight laps, Hocevar’s night took a literal turn when he spun while heading to pit road, which NASCAR deemed was intentional and held him for a lap. The penalty, while generally regarded as reasonable, also raised eyebrows as many felt Nemechek should have gotten the same for his two cautions, both of which saw his truck stop before re-firing.

Hocevar’s Niece Motorsports team voiced its displeasure on social media in since-deleted tweets. Such messages included calling the penalty the “most laughable thing I’ve ever read” and saying the spin was “as intentional as the four (Nemechek) stopping on the track today and pulling over for his teammate to win last week.” The latter was in reference to Nemechek battling with Smith for the lead late at Bristol before seemingly slowing and relinquishing the position to allow Smith to win and lock himself into the next round.

Eckes took the lead with four laps remaining. As ThorSport team-mates Rhodes, Crafton, and Johnny Sauter organised behind him, a last-lap wreck between Tyler Hill and Kris Wright ended the race under caution. The victory marked the second straight week with a first-time winner, while ThorSport enjoyed its first 1–2–3–4 finish, which had never been achieved at the Truck level before. Such a run was accomplished in the Cup Series at Dover in June with Hendrick Motorsports.

Race results

FinishStartNumberDriverTeamManufacturerLapsStatus
11598Christian EckesThorSport RacingToyota134Running
2799Ben RhodesThorSport RacingToyota134Running
3688Matt CraftonThorSport RacingToyota134Running
41113Johnny SauterThorSport RacingToyota134Running
5838Todd GillilandFront Row MotorsportsFord134Running
6352Stewart FriesenHalmar Friesen RacingToyota134Running
7239Grant EnfingerCR7 MotorsportsChevrolet134Running
81322Austin Wayne SelfAM RacingChevrolet134Running
91440Ryan TruexNiece MotorsportsChevrolet134Running
101016Austin HillHattori Racing EnterprisesToyota134Running
113532Bret HolmesBret Holmes RacingChevrolet134Running
121219Derek KrausMcAnally-Hilgemann RacingToyota134Running
131923Chase PurdyGMS RacingChevrolet134Running
143312Tate FoglemanYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet134Running
153411Spencer DavisSpencer Davis MotorsportsToyota134Running
162602Kris WrightYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet134Running
172456Tyler HillHill MotorsportsChevrolet133Running
182830Danny BohnOn Point MotorsportsToyota133Running
193120Spencer BoydYoung’s MotorsportsChevrolet133Running
203033C.J. McLaughlin*Reaume Brothers RacingToyota133Running
213634Dylan LuptonReaume Brothers RacingToyota133Running
22542Carson HocevarNiece MotorsportsChevrolet132Running
232915Tanner GrayDavid Gilliland RacingFord132Running
241851Drew DollarKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota132Running
252225Brett Moffitt*Rackley WARChevrolet131Running
26253Howie DiSavino IIIJordan Anderson RacingChevrolet130Running
273210Jennifer Jo CobbJennifer Jo Cobb RacingFord129Running
282104Cory RoperRoper RacingFord121Running
29421Zane SmithGMS RacingChevrolet115Running
302024Jack WoodGMS RacingChevrolet114Accident
31171Hailie DeeganDavid Gilliland RacingFord101Accident
323749Keith McGeeCMI MotorsportsFord91Too Slow
3314John Hunter NemechekKyle Busch Motorsports Toyota85Running
341626Tyler AnkrumGMS RacingChevrolet70Accident
35218Chandler SmithKyle Busch MotorsportsToyota70Accident
3692Sheldon CreedGMS RacingChevrolet70Accident
372745Chris HackerNiece MotorsportsChevrolet6DVP
Bold – Currently in playoffs
Italics – Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points
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History major at San Jose State University and lifelong motorsports fan who covers NASCAR and the Stadium Super Trucks.
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