KANSAS CITY, Kan. – Christian Eckes did exactly what he had to do to win the ARCA Menards Series championship Friday at Kansas Speedway.
Eckes, who started at the rear of the field in Friday’s 100-lap season finale after Venturini Motorsports changed the engine in his No. 15 Toyota after qualifying, marched through the field to take the lead just past halfway from his title rival Michael Self.
Once out front Eckes was untouchable, pulling away to more than a two second victory at the 1.5-mile oval.
“This is huge,” said Eckes. “Not really knowing what I’m going to do next year, hopefully, this is a little bit of an added bonus. We fought really hard all year, not just this race. But even this race, we fought really hard, and it kind of summed up our year. Our ability to bounce back from things is incredible. Kevin Reed (crew chief) and all of these guys do an excellent job, and we’ve done this so many times over the year – come back from starting last or missing a race. It’s great to be a champion, and really looking forward to celebrating it.”
After missing the third race of the season at Salem Speedway due to illness, Eckes spent the rest of the season playing catchup while Self led the standings. He took the championship lead from Self after the last event at Lucas Oil Raceway and entered Friday’s race with a 15-point lead.
Self earned 10 bonus points for leading a lap and leading the most laps, but still had to beat Eckes on track to have a shot at the championship. He watched that opportunity fade away when Eckes drove by him just after a restart on lap 58.
The driver of the No. 25 Toyota tried to close the gap late in the race by running the high side, cutting more than a second off Eckes’ gap. That still wasn’t enough for Self, who was forced to settle for second in the race and the championship.
Eckes ended the season with four victories, 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes.
Ty Majeski finished third, with Bret Holmes and Travis Braden completing the top-five. NHRA Pro Stock champion Tanner Gray, who earned his first ARCA pole earlier in the day, finished sixth.
Christian Eckes, Michael Self, Ty Majeski, Bret Holmes, Travis Braden, Tanner Gray, Drew Dollar, Hailie Deegan, Joe Graf Jr., Gus Dean, Sheldon Creed, Harrison Burton, Carson Ware, Scott Melton, Ed Pompa, Riley Herbst, Tim Richmond, Eric Caudell, Tommy Vigh Jr., Brad Smith, Dick Doheny, Wayne Peterson.