“It was a really good race between us,” Eckes said of the battle with Nemechek. “He raced me hard and clean. I raced him back nice, hard and clean. I’m glad we put on a good finish for the fans.”

The Snowball Derby victory served as icing on the cake for Eckes, who after a season full of struggles turned the corner late in the year. He scored his first victory of the year at Myrtle Beach (S.C.) Speedway in a late model stock car during late November, beating Josh Berry to win the Myrtle Beach 400 in another photo finish.

Eckes backed that victory up with his first super late model victory at Southern National Motorsports Park before heading to Florida and winning the Snowball Derby.

That’s not a bad way to end the season.

Christian Eckes
Christian Eckes kisses the Tom Dawson Trophy after winning the Snowball Derby. (Speed51 Photo)

“Before, we didn’t really have a lot of good luck,” Eckes said. “It has finally turned around for us and we’ve been able to put some good finishes together.

“I’ve had Jeff Fultz working with me and he is a veteran in the super late models,” Eckes explained. “He helped me out tremendously just with what to do, how much to ride and all kinds of stuff like that. Everyone at Fury (Race Cars) really helped me out during the weekend (at the Derby).”

With the Derby victory in the rearview mirror, Eckes is focused squarely on the future. Days after winning the Derby, he announced he’d be running nine ARCA Racing Series short-track races for Venturini Motorsports this season in addition to a late model schedule with Fury Race Cars.

“Last season, we made a handful of starts together and I learned a lot — making the transition from the super late models to the ARCA car has definitely been a learning experience but overall a smooth transition,” Eckes said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself and this team — I’m determined to come out and compete for wins and top fives right away.

“We’re looking to run about 20 super (late model) races and a couple late model stock races here and there,” Eckes said. “We’re not going to run as many as we did this year. Probably about five late model stock races.

“I’m just really looking forward to 2017.”