Race Weekend Central

Christian Eckes Prevails at Atlanta for First Truck Series Win Since 2021

A NASCAR Overtime finish and help from Ben Rhodes pushed Christian Eckes to his second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Saturday (March 18th).

Eckes’ win was the first ever for McAnally-Hilgemann in the Truck Series, and the New York native broke a drought dating back to his first win Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2021.

“There is a lot’s of thoughts for sure,” said Eckes in victory lane. “It’s been a tough offseason, but I’m driving harder than I ever have. I got a lot to prove. I’m pumped, it’s going to be a really good year.”

Nick Sanchez was the leader heading into overtime but had to settle for a runner-up finish in his third career start. John Hunter Nemechek finished third after leading the most laps (53), while Bayley Currey scored his best Truck Series finish in fourth. Ben Rhodes finished fifth despite crashing at the finish line.

Matt DiBenedetto crossed the line in sixth while Chase Purdy, Timmy Hill, Matt Crafton and Jack Wood rounded out the top 10.

See also
Nick Sanchez Nearly Earns First Win in Third Truck Start: 'It Hurts with How Close You Were'

Zane Smith and Ty Majeski led the field to the green flag for the scheduled 135-lap race after qualifying was rained out. Eckes pushed Smith out front and then took the lead himself before the first lap was completed.

The first caution came out at lap 24 for teammates Layne Riggs and Tanner Gray crashing on the front straightaway. Some of the trucks pitted under this yellow, which created a one-lap restart to the end of stage one. Eckes held off Smith in a side-by-side finish to win the stage.

Matt Crafton and Carson Hocevar led the field to the green flag in stage two after staying out at the conclusion of stage one. Crafton controlled most of the second stage held off a late charge from Nemechek to score his first stage win since 2020.

The field then came to pit road at the end of the stage with Nemechek winning the race off.

Nemechek and DiBenedetto led the field to the green for the final stage, and the field quickly went single file. After a caution for Akinori Ogata on lap 78, Nemechek led the field down pit road and held onto the lead through the stops. On the restart, Corey Heim hit the back of Sanchez, sending the No. 2 truck into the grass. The resulting damage ended Heim’s day.

Nemechek led until 23 laps to go, when Jack Wood led one lap before Nemechek gave him a bad push out of turn two. Wood spun, bringing out the caution.

The race resumed, but the ninth caution came out on lap 123 when Hocevar and Lawless Alan crashed in turn 3. This set up a seven-lap sprint to the finish with Sanchez leading and Rhodes opposite him on the front row. Sanchez kept the lead until the Truck Series record 10th caution at Atlanta with five laps to go forced NASCAR overtime.

On the restart, Eckes took the lead with help from Rhodes, passing Sanchez. Sanchez battled back to the inside of Eckes with Rhodes looking to take them three-wide on the final lap until the field crashed in the final two turns. Eckes prevailed out of turn 4 and took his first checkered flag of 2023.

2023 NCTS Atlanta Results

The NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series is back on track next week at Circuit of the Americas. The race will be Saturday (March 25th) at 1:30 p.m. ET on FS1.

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