ROSSBURG, Ohio – Christian Eckes will tackle a different surface when he straps back into the No. 51 Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports this week in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series.
Eckes will take to the dirt for a rare appearance, tackling the half-mile Eldora Speedway during the seventh annual Eldora Dirt Derby, the only dirt race for any of NASCAR’s top three divisions all year long.
Thursday night’s event will mark the 18-year-old’s dirt debut in Truck Series machinery, as he fills the seat that was occupied last year by NOS Energy Drink USAC National Midget Series star Logan Seavey.
Seavey was originally expected to return to Eldora and chase a Truck Series win this week, but when USAC’s Pennsylvania Midget Week landed on the same week as the Dirt Derby and left Seavey unable to make the trip west to Ohio, Eckes got the call to fill the void.
Eckes does have experience racing on the dirt in the ARCA Menards Series, with one career dirt victory at the Illinois State Fairgrounds in August of last year.
“This race is going to be extremely different for me,” noted Eckes. “I don’t have a lot of experience on dirt, and what little dirt experience I do have is on a mile (track). It’s definitely going to be a change, but it looks like Eldora is a cool place to race dirt. Logan certainly did a great job for this team last year.
“Like I said, this is going to be a bit of an adjustment for me, but I’m really excited to get in the No. 51 Mobil 1 Tundra and see what we’ve got.”
Eckes is coming off his first-career top-five finish in the Truck Series, finishing fourth last week at Pocono Raceway, and feels that he and his squad are knocking on the door of his maiden Truck Series victory.
“I feel like we’re really close to a win,” said Eckes. “At Pocono last week, we were just missing it by a little bit to be able to go and run the leaders down. Obviously at Gateway, I felt like we had a race-winning truck, and we just had that issue on the last lap. Hopefully we have speed at Eldora this week.
“This team deserves another win; they’ve been close and hopefully we can give them one on Thursday night.”