MADISON, Ill. – Though he’s only one race into his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series career, Christian Eckes will tackle his first double-duty weekend at the national level this weekend at Gateway Motorsports Park.
Eckes will pilot both the No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota for Venturini Motorsports and the No. 46 Mobil 1 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports at the 1.25-mile oval near St. Louis, racing in both the ARCA Racing Series and Truck Series events on Friday and Saturday night, respectively.
“I’m really excited about this whole weekend and what it’s going to entail for me,” said Eckes. “I get to run with the Trucks in the Mobil 1 Tundra and then I also get to come back here to the ARCA Series and race the JBL Camry, so it’s just a fun scenario and I’m really looking forward to getting everything going.
While some rookies might be on edge about the challenges of a two-race weekend, Eckes is amped up about the opportunity to get extra track time and complete twice at Gateway, despite having to adapt to two different race cars throughout the weekend.
“It’s a little bit of both,” Eckes admitted. “The hectic schedule is definitely a bit of a challenge, along with going from car to car … because they do have some differences between them, but as a whole my guys at both KBM and Venturini have made the transition back and forth go really smoothly so far and I’m just ready to race a couple of times this weekend. I already love to race this place and it’s a lot of fun when you’re out there driving it.”
Eckes certainly enjoyed himself during ARCA open testing at Gateway this week, where he stayed atop the scoring pylon for most of the day before being edged out by friend and rival Chase Purdy in the final stages of the session.
The 17-year-old from Middletown, N.Y. ended up second-fastest overall with a lap of 33.337 seconds (134.985 mph).
“We had a really good test (on Thursday),” noted Eckes. “We had a lot of strong race-run speed. Chase (Purdy) got me at the end, but for the most part we were the fastest car all day. We had a really good race car and that has me excited about our chances.”
After two rough ARCA outings at Toledo (Ohio) Speedway and Pocono (Pa.) Raceway in the last month, a top-10 finish in his Truck Series debut at Iowa Speedway last weekend began to get Eckes back on track.
He wants that process to continue over the next two days at Gateway.
“I hope this is where we can bounce back,” said Eckes. “Toledo and Pocono didn’t go the way we wanted either of those races to go, for sure. After losing a right-front tire at Toledo when we thought we had a car capable of winning, we had an issue at Pocono and had to come down pit road. We ended up 11th or so at the end of that one after having what I felt like was a top-three car and showing a lot of speed.
“We’ve had a lot of shots to win this year, but things haven’t gone our way, except for at Salem. I hope the next two nights we can right the ship and make some cool things happen, because my guys – both on the ARCA side and the Truck Series side – deserve to be in victory lane and I want to get them there.”
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice kicks off with the first of three sessions at 3:30 p.m. ET.