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Christian Eckes Wins Weather Guard Truck Race at Bristol

Christian Eckes does a burnout on the frontstretch to celebrate his victory at Bristol Motor Speedway. Photo Credit: Jonathan McCoy, TobyChristie.com

After a four win campaign in the 2023 Craftsman Truck Series season, Christian Eckes and McAnally-Hilgemann Racing came into Bristol Motor Speedway looking for win number one in 2024. They got that win Saturday night, as Eckes emerged victorious after 250 laps in the Weather Guard Truck Race.

Eckes, the polesitter for the event, led a race-high 144 laps over two stints and became the third driver to lock in a spot into the Craftsman Truck Series playoffs, joining Nick Sanchez and Rajah Caruth.

Eckes, who led late in last season’s event at Bristol but was passed with under ten laps to go by Corey Heim, was extremely excited about finishing the job this time around.

“There’s just so much behind this win from last year…losing the race with five to go, to come back and redeem ourselves was our number one goal,” Eckes said in his post-race interview on FS1.

Finishing second to Eckes was two-time Cup Series champion and Atlanta winner Kyle Busch. Busch swept both stages in his No. 7 Chevrolet Silverado and led 105 laps, second only to Eckes. NASCAR Cup Series regular Zane Smith, Eckes’ MHR teammate, finished third and was the only other driver to lead a lap, leading only lap 136.

Three-time Truck Series champion Matt Crafton finished 4th, earning his first top five finish since Milwaukee last season. Tyler Ankrum, teammate to Eckes and Smith, rounded out the top five, giving MHR three trucks in the top five.

Corey Heim was the highest finishing Toyota Tundra in sixth, while teammate Taylor Gray finished one spot behind Heim for the third consecutive race, coming home in seventh. Las Vegas winner Rajah Caruth, Grant Enfinger, and Layne Riggs rounded out the top ten, with Riggs earning his first top ten of the season.

Race Results: NCTS Weather Guard Truck Race at Bristol

It did not take long for a truck to get out of shape, as Matt Mills went for a spin on lap seven of the event. The No. 42 Chevrolet suffered minimal damage to the front bumper, but Mills lost multiple laps while repairs were made to it, eventually finishing 25th.

The next caution occurred on lap 44, when Keith McGee spun down the backstretch and into turn three in his No. 22 Ford F-150. Taylor Gray and Stefan Parsons also suffered minimal damage in the incident but were able to continue, while McGee went multiple laps down.

Just after the restart for stage three, ThorSport Racing teammates Ty Majeski and Ben Rhodes spun into the inside wall on the backstretch. Rhodes, the defending series champion, would stay on the lead lap, while Majeski would retire roughly twenty laps later due to an engine issue.

Ty Majeski, Ben Rhodes Spin At Beginning of Stage Three at Bristol

On lap 218, Stewart Friesen’s No. 52 Toyota made contact with Nick Sanchez’s No. 2 Chevrolet Silverado, sending both trucks into the outside wall and Friesen completely around. Sanchez, the winner of the season-opening race at Daytona, would stay on the lead lap, while Friesen went two laps down making repairs. The two drivers would get into a shoving match on pit road after the race while arguing about the incident.

Video: Friesen, Sanchez Involved in Shoving Match on Pit Road Following Bristol Truck Race

Through the remainder of the event, Eckes and Busch battled up front for the lead, but in the end Eckes prevailed and took home the victory despite a last-lap charge from Busch. The win is the sixth of Eckes’ career and the sixth straight for Chevrolet in the series dating back to last season. The victory is also the 13th for the No. 19 in the Craftsman Truck Series, with Eckes winning five of those 13 races.

Tyler Ankrum retained the Truck Series points lead with his fifth place finish, while Corey Heim leapfrogged Ty Majeski for second by finishing sixth. Eckes, with his win, joined Sanchez and Caruth as Truck Series regulars to win in 2024 and also joined them as the only drivers to secure a spot in the seven race playoffs.

The next Truck Series race is scheduled for Saturday, March 23, at Circuit of the Americas, and will be broadcasted by FS1.

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