Christian Eckes Makes First Laps At Salem

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Christian Eckes

SALEM, Ind. — Rest assured they’re still keeping track at Salem Speedway where the 101st ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards event will take center stage with the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers 200 April 29-30.

Fairly safe to say that 16-year-old SCOTT Rookie contender Christian Eckes would like to be the winner, a tall order for the Middletown, N.Y., teenager who got his first go at the famous southern Indiana short track Tuesday morning, testing for Venturini Motorsports.

“It’s really a fun race track…a lot of fun to make laps today,” said Eckes.

Eckes also found out how close you have to run next to the wall in turns three and four.

“I’ve never been to a track where you run right up against the wall. It took a few sessions to get used to that. Fortunately I got the control and we were able to adjust after that.”

Eckes, who finished a career-best third last time out at Nashville in the same Venturini Motorsports No. 15 Toyota Camry, said he had more trouble trying to figure out the other end.

“One and two were most challenging for me,” Eckes said. “We were fighting a bit of a tight condition. That was the hardest line…it’s a precise line to run to be perfect. It’s easy to miss it.”

Eckes also said he’s going in with the mindset that he can win, but understands the learning curve at Salem isn’t over yet.

“You have to go in with that mindset…that you can win, but I also know it’s going to take the whole race to get there,” Eckes added. “If I learned anything today it’s that there’s a lot to learn about Salem. I learned that patience is a big thing, and managing tires.

“We learned a lot. I got accustomed to the race track and we were able to get a good baseline for when we come back.”

Eckes is the 2016 Snowball Derby winner.

Eckes’ teammates Raphael Lessard and Zane Smith also tested Tuesday at Salem. The race will mark Lessard’s career-first ARCA start. Smith has one Salem start, finishing ninth last September.

Win-Tron Racing tested with Gus Dean and Mason Mingus. Mingus, in the same car, finished fifth last time out at Nashville. Mason Mitchell Motorsports was also on hand, testing with Kyle Weatherman. Weatherman finished second at Nashville. He also finished runner-up at Salem in 2013.

Ken Schrader Racing, Joe Gibbs Racing, Cunningham Motorsports and Bret Holmes Racing are also penciled-in for testing yet this week.

Kimmel Racing and A.J. Fike already tested.

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