TOLEDO, Ohio – Sixteen-year-old Christian Eckes isn’t asking for a lot, about two feet would do just fine, that’s how much he missed out on winning his first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards victory his last time out at Elko Speedway.
Eckes, of Middletown, N.Y., finished a career-best second to ARCA championship points leader Austin Theriault at Elko. The 2016 Snowball Derby winner also finished third back in April at Nashville.
He may have a leg-up on the competition at Madison Int’l Speedway when the Montgomery Ward 200 comes to town on June 23. Unlike most tracks on ARCA’s tour, Eckes has seen this one before. Eckes, who drives the No. 15 New York Bus Sales Toyota for Venturini Motorsports, qualified fifth last year at Madison, but fell out with mechanical issues. Despite the DNF, he still got more than a hundred laps in to get to know the famous short track in Madison, Wis.
“We had a really good time at Madison last year,” said Eckes. “I really like the race track. It really fits my driving style, short, tight, racy, my kind of race track.”
Eckes also says it’s like no other track he’s ever raced at.
“There’s nothing like it. You go off in the corner and it’s like you’re driving into a hole, but you come right out the other end, usually double-file. It’s a really cool track.”
Eckes now knows he can win at this level and feels like the victory is coming soon.
“We absolutely know we can win. If you’re driving for Venturini, you know without turning a lap you’ve got a shot,” said Eckes. “Me and my Venturini team were in contention all last year. Things didn’t play into our favor, but if you add what we’ve done this year, it’s a real confidence booster. We’re very confident we’re going to get a win sometime this year.”
And it would not be a stretch to see that first win come at Madison.
“We’ve been so close. On the other hand, it’s very hard to win an ARCA race. ARCA has been so competitive this year, if you miss it by a little bit, as little as 5 percent, it’ll take you from a top-five to a top-10. I’d be satisfied with a top-five, top-three, but a win would make everything right.”