Chances are if you placed a bet on Christian Eckes tonight, you just made a bunch of money.
While he wasn’t the odds on favorite for Friday Night’s Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Eckes was able to capture his first career victory at the 1.5-mile facility, after a fantastic restart allowed him to get away from the pack in the closing laps.
Ben Rhodes – Eckes’ teammate at ThorSport Racing — tried to close on the part-timer, but a final lap caution for Tyler Hill hindered the playoff driver’s progress. Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter rounded out a top-four sweep for ThorSport Racing at Las Vegas, the first time in series history that an organization has captured a 1-2-3-4 finish.
Todd Gilliland – the leader on the final restart of the race finished in fifth-place, surely a disappointing result after leading two times the number of laps than any of his competitors did. Stewart Friesen, Grant Enfinger, Austin Wayne Self, Ryan Truex, and Austin Hill rounded out the top-10.
One of the race’s biggest storylines was the trouble had by the eight remaining drivers in the playoffs. John Hunter Nemechek ran into mechanical issues on two occasions, bringing out yellow flags on laps 54 and 82.
Sheldon Creed and Chandler Smith were involved in a nasty accident on lap 72, which saw Smith’s No. 18 knocked into the air after hard contact from Creed. Hailie Deegan, Tyler Ankrum, and Chase Purdy were also involved.
With under 10 laps to go, Carson Hocevar had a flat right-front tire, which would require him to bring his Niece Motorsports entry to the attention of his pit crew under green. In what can only be assumed as a plan with good intentions, Hocevar intentionally spun coming to pit road, drawing the ninth caution of the evening. As a result, the 18-year-old was held a lap on pit road.
As the series enters the next two races of the second round of the playoffs at Talladega Superspeedway and Martinsville Speedway, Sheldon Creed, Carson Hocevar, Zane Smith, and Chandler Smith currently sit on the outside looking in to advance to Phoenix.