MOORESVILLE, N.C. – Reigning ARCA Menards Series champion Christian Eckes will graduate to the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series next season with Kyle Busch Motorsports.
The 19-year-old will drive the No. 18 Safelite AutoGlass Toyota Tundra full-time next year. He’ll race as a teammate to Canadian Raphael Lessard, who was announced as the driver of the No. 4 entry at Kyle Busch Motorsports on Thursday.
Safelite, a provider of vehicle glass repair and replacement services, returns to Kyle Busch Motorsports for a third season and will adorn the hood of Eckes’ Tundra for all 23 races of his rookie effort.
The New York native has produced three poles, 64 laps led, two top-five and three top-10 finishes across seven starts in his second partial Truck Series schedule for the organization this year. In 2018, he produced three top-10 finishes across his four Gander Trucks starts.
Eckes captured the ARCA Menards Series championship this season after recording four wins, two poles, 400 laps led, 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes. He missed one start early in the season due to illness. Overall in 46 career ARCA starts since 2016, Eckes has posted seven wins, four poles, 1094 laps led, 23 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes with an average starting spot of 5.3 and average finishing position of 6.9.
“Returning to KBM to compete full-time for a NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship with the support of Safelite AutoGlass and Toyota is an opportunity that I’ve worked my whole life for and I’m ready to take advantage of it,” Eckes said. “Being around the Truck Series the last few seasons, I’ve been able to see firsthand how much effort Safelite puts into their racing program and I’m excited to represent them not only on the track, but in the communities that we race in.”
“Christian has won races and a championship in the ARCA Series and we feel like he’s capable of doing the same driving for us full-time in the Truck Series next year,” said team owner Kyle Busch. “He’s shown speed while running a part-time schedule for us the past couple of seasons – he’s won poles, led laps and been in a position to win a few races. We feel like it’s just a matter of time before he puts everything together and starts winning at this level.”
“We are excited to see Christian full-time in the NASCAR Truck Series next season,” said Jack Irving, Senior Manager, Commercial Director, Toyota Racing Development. “It has been thrilling to watch the growth of Christian behind the wheel these past couple of seasons. With his success in the ARCA Menards Series this past year, this is the next logical move for Christian’s continued development towards what we hope is a long career in NASCAR with Toyota.”
An announcement on Eckes’ crew chief is forthcoming.