DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Christian Eckes is two-for-two in qualifying this week at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
After earning the ARCA Menards Series pole last weekend, the 18-year-old sped to his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series pole in just his fifth series start on Friday evening, placing the No. 51 SiriusXM Toyota Tundra on top of the scoring pylon in advance of the NextEra Energy Resources 250.
Eckes turned a quick lap of 49.287 seconds (182.604 mph) in the final round of knockout qualifying, edging veteran and defending pole winner David Gilliland by .013 of a second for the top honors.
“I felt way more confident out there by myself than I did when our truck was in the draft yesterday,” said Eckes. “I really wasn’t sure where we were going to qualify, and here we are on the pole. I can’t thank Rudy (Fugle, crew chief) and all these guys enough. This is a true testament to them.
“At Daytona, the driver really doesn’t do much than hold it wide open, and I definitely did that,” he added. “I can’t wait to race this thing tonight. It’s a lot of fun here in the Truck Series. I’m really ready.”
With his first top qualifying effort in hand, Eckes is hopeful he can flip the script from the ARCA race a week ago, where he finished fourth and watched as teammate Harrison Burton celebrated the victory.
“I need to be on the other side of that draft tonight and be out front,” Eckes told SPEED SPORT prior to driver introductions. “That’s where we’ll hopefully be able to show what we’re made of. I think we have a truck that can win this thing tonight. It’s really fast. It’s just an honor to be here and drive for these guys, though. They’ve been great to me and they deserve a great result tonight.”
Gilliland’s son, Todd Gilliland, timed in third fastest in the final round as part of a Toyota sweep of the top four positions. Harrison Burton, who will drop to the rear after an engine change in practice on Thursday, completed the quartet in fourth.
Grant Enfinger was the fastest Ford driver in fifth, while Sheldon Creed led Chevrolet’s fleet in sixth.
Stewart Friesen, defending champion Brett Moffitt, Clay Greenfield, Austin Hill, Natalie Decker and Austin Wayne Self completed the top 12 who advanced to the final round of qualifying.
Just missing the cut in the first round was rookie Gus Dean, who timed in 13th-fastest (49.998/180.007) with the No. 12 LG/Baker Distributing Services Chevrolet for Young’s Motorsports.
Other notables mired deep in the field are former series champions Matt Crafton (15th) and Johnny Sauter (17th), as well as journeyman drivers Joe Nemechek (19th) and Jordan Anderson (27th).
With 39 trucks entered and only 32 starting spots available, Austin Theriault, Korbin Forrister, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Codie Rohrbaugh, Spencer Davis, Norm Benning and Jason White all failed to qualify.
To view complete qualifying results, advance to the next page.