NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Christian Eckes rebounded from two disastrous weeks to win Sunday’s rain-delayed ARCA Menards Series General Tire Music City 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Eckes took the lead during a restart at lap 81 and led the final 120 laps to earn his first series victory of the season and the fourth of his career.
Eckes led the ARCA Menards Series standings entering the third event of the season at Salem Speedway, but was forced to the sidelines with food poisoning on race day. After missing that race, Eckes returned to action at Talladega Superspeedway but was swept into a crash at the race’s midway point and he finished last in the 26-car field.
Eckes was visibly relieved in victory lane.
“It’s been a really rough couple of weeks,” Eckes said. “That was about the longest 80 laps of my life. We pitted early and I figured there would be a caution and there would be one guy with four tires in the pits. But that never happened. We still need to be a little better but we took some strides in the right direction for when we go to Toledo for our next short track race.
“I had a feeling in my stomach that we had a car that could win. I knew it was going to be a good day. We weren’t really happy with it yesterday. We were okay with it. We got it closer but it wasn’t where we wanted it completely. We got it close enough but we have room to get better.”
Ty Gibbs finished second for the second time in his career. He also finished in the runner-up position in his debut at Five Flags Speedway in March. Gibbs had a close call at lap 73 when he and Tommy Vigh Jr. came together on the frontstretch. Vigh eventually lost control going into turn one and collected series championship leader Michael Self.
“My car was pretty good, we just a little drive off,” Gibbs said. “We just needed a little drive off. We had good pit stops and good execution. The lapped cars are supposed to stay on the bottom and he just pulled up in front of me. I tried to get away from him but he was just a slower than I was so it just sucks for him and it sucks for the 25.”
Self finished 15th, and dropped to second in the series standings behind eighth-place finisher Travis Braden.
Chandler Smith was third after starting from the General Tire Pole. Smith was fastest in practice and started from the pole when qualifying was washed out by rain.
“He just had better turnability than I did,” Smith said. “We overloaded the right front tire today. They rolled the center better than we did and that’s where they got us. We learned some things today that should help us at Toledo.”
Carson Hocevar finished fourth and Bret Holmes rounded out the top five.
Smith led the first 47 laps before he lost the top spot on an exchange of pit stops. Corey Heim stayed out and led four laps, the first time he has led an ARCA Menards Series race in his career. Smith retook the lead for the next 29 circuits before Eckes took over at lap 81 to lead the rest of the way.
Christian Eckes, Ty Gibbs, Chandler Smith, Carson Hocevar, Bret Holmes, Joe Graf Jr., Kaden Honeycutt, Travis Braden, Thad Moffitt, Connor Okrzesik, Corey Heim, Tommy Vigh Jr., Tim Richmond, Eric Caudell, Michael Self, Mike Basham, Dick Doheny, Barry Layne, Lexi Gay, Brad Smith.