Race Weekend Central

Christian Eckes Survives Late-Race Overtime Chaos at Darlington

For the second time this season, Christian Eckes captured the checkered flag. The 22-year-old led for most of the day (May 12) and controlled the closing stages of the race despite a flurry of late-race cautions at Darlington Raceway.

This is Eckes’s third-career win in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series.

With two laps to go, Timmy Hill blew a tire and spun bringing out the caution, setting up NASCAR overtime.

On the first attempt, Jake Garcia, who had been running in the top 10 all day, spun on the backstretch and brought out the caution again.

For the final attempt, Eckes pulled away from Stewart Friesen and Tanner Gray. Eckes made it to the white flag when last week’s winner, Grant Enfinger, had trouble on the frontstretch and NASCAR threw the caution.

“I’m not even that excited because it was such a damn good truck,” Eckes said in his FOX Sports 1 interview. ” It just drove itself. It’s been really, really rough couple of weeks. To come back and win shows the resilience of this team, and how we had to win it shows the fight in this team.”

Friesen battled his way to the front after a majority of the late-race after running in the top 10 for most of the day. His second-place finish is the best finish of the season for Friesen.

See also
Rajah Caruth Misses Out on Possible First Win, Settles for First Top 10 at Darlington

“Just really proud of my guys,” Friesen said. “Our over-the-wall crew worked a little bit harder this week, and those guys responded. They had some money stops. We didn’t have a great truck in dirty air, but our TRD Pro was pretty good in clean air. We had a key restart there at the end and was able to get a second.”

Tanner Gray, who also ran in the top 10 throughout the evening, also capitalized on the late race chaos to capture a podium finish.

“It was pretty eventful for us,” Tan. Gray said. “We didn’t feel like we fired off all that good. We were really loose to fire. Kind of fought that through practice, and then we went from almost being a lap down to finishing third. Says a lot about Jeremy Donley and everybody on this Tricon team to make adjustments all night.”

William Byron, who had a strong truck all night, finished fourth. Carson Hocevar finished fifth after coming back from spinning off the truck of Rajah Caruth earlier in the race; the latter finished sixth.

Bubba Wallace, Corey Heim, Kaden Honeycutt, and Dean Thompson rounded out the top 10.

Heim, who qualified on the pole, led the opening stages until he surrendered the lead to Eckes. Eckes went on to win stage one over Heim after passing him in lap traffic. Heim also held the lead for the majority of stage two until Byron passed him in the closing laps to take the stage win. He made very bold moves at the end of the race on fresher tires to rebound from a bad pit strategy to finish eighth.

Nick Sanchez and Taylor Gray had a close moment at the end of stage two. The two were battling for position in turn 1, and both got loose and saved their trucks from spinning.

After the stage three restart, Chase Purdy, Colby Howard and co-points leader Zane Smith were involved in a wreck on the frontstretch after Zane Smith ran into a loose Matt Crafton.

Texas Motor Speedway winner Carson Hocevar was tagged in turn one with 34 to go while battling with rookie Rajah Caruth. Setting up pit strategy for some drivers. After the restart. Eckes took over the front spot.

After 14 laps, Lawless Alan took a spin and brought the caution out once again. Eckes held everyone off pit road to set up a late restart.

See also
Tracking the Trucks: Christian Eckes Tames Darlington With Statement Win

With Hailie Deegan and Colby Howard staying out. Eckes and Byron pulled away from the field who had to battle through the two slower trucks.

Ty Majeski, who went into the race tied with dealt with brake problems and had to go behind the wall during stage two to deal with power steering issues. He ended the day in 31st position.

The Truck Series will return next week for NASCAR’s return to North Wilkesboro Speedway for the Tyson 250 on Saturday, May 20 at 1:30 p.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by FOX Sports 1.

About the author

Wyatt Watson has been an avid fan of NASCAR since 2007 at the age of 8. He joined Frontstretch in February 2023 after serving in the United States Navy for five years as an Electronic Technician Navigation working on submarines. Wyatt writes breaking NASCAR news and contributes to columns such as Friday Faceoff and 2-Headed Monster. Wyatt also contributes to Frontstretch's social media and serves as an at-track reporter.

Wyatt Watson can be found on Twitter @WyattGametime

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TiminPayson

Fox Sports coverage is terrible. Jamie Little needs to stay a pit reporter.

Steven

So Turtle Deegan restarts on the outside pole with only a few laps to go.
Absolutely ridiculous! 🐢

Roger

If you can’t run with the BIG DOGS get the hell out of the way.

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