Christian Eckes wants to extend the Craftsman Trucks victory in Atlanta

HAMPTON, Georgia — Christian Eckes finished where he started Saturday’s Fr8 208 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway — with plenty of uproar in between.

Eckes clinched his second win of the series in overtime, choosing the bottom lane and front row for a restart on lap 136 of 137.

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However, after leading the first 30-lap stage of the race from wire to wire, Eckes sped into the pit lane and lost his position on track. He spent the rest of the event working his way up the field.

Christian Eckes leads the field in the #19 Chevrolet at Atlanta Motor Speedway

In a race that featured a record 11 bookings for 58 laps, the driver of the No. 19 Chevrolet started 13th on lap 103, but three yellow flags later he was on the front row alongside leader and ultimate runner-up Nick Sanchez to restart the extension.

Charged forward, Eckes took the white flag lead and was ahead when NASCAR called out the final warning of the race over a Turn 4 wreck involving Tyler Ankrum, Stewart Friesen and defending series champion Zane Smith.

“It’s been a tough off-season,” said Eckes in his first year with owner Bill McAnally after racing for ThorSport Racing in 2022. “I ride harder than ever – I have a lot to prove. People know who they are.

“I’m really happy. Thanks to (Crew Chief) Charles (Denike), everyone on this team. They work so damn hard. That’s what it’s worth. I’m pumped. It’s going to be a really good year.”

John Hunter Nemechek was third after leading 53 laps with a peak of 53 laps ahead of Eckes’ 35. Nemechek had the lead for a restart on lap 121 but was pushed back into traffic.

Bayley Currey finished fourth, earning his first NASCAR National Series top five, and Ben Rhodes finished fifth after giving Eckes a much-needed boost at the top.

Matt DiBenedetto, Chase Purdy, Timmy Hill, Matt Crafton and Jack Wood completed the top 10.

Corey Heim’s defense of his Truck Series win here last March ended prematurely. He recovered from a pit lane collision during the race, but his Tricon Garage No. 11 Toyota suffered significant front-end damage when he jammed behind Sanchez’s No. 2 Chevrolet on a restart. He retired after just 83 laps and finished 34th in the field of 36 trucks.

The next Craftsman Truck Series race is scheduled for next Saturday, March 25 (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) at the Circuit of The Americas.

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