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Christian Eckes is in Music City from start to finish

In short

Absolute dominance.

This is the best way to describe Christian Eckes’ evening on Friday night (June 28) at the Nashville Superspeedway.

Eckes led all 150 laps en route to his third Craftsman Truck Series win of the season. He also picked up an additional $50,000 as Nashville was also the third and final Triple Truck Challenge race. It’s the first time a driver has led a Truck Series race from start to finish since Timothy Peters did it at Bristol Motor Speedway in 2012.

Even more impressive is that Eckes started the race in third place. Pole sitter Stewart Friesen did not lead a single lap, nor did second-placed Grant Enfinger.

Eckes’ teammate Daniel Dye achieved his career-best performance with second place, followed by Corey Heim in third place.

The top truckers at the Nashville Superspeedway

Winner, winner of stages 1 and 2, most laps led (all 150 laps): Christian Eckes
Pole sitter: Stewart Friesen
Biggest climber: Matt Mills (start 36th, finish 8th)
Rookie of the race: Conner Jones

The main storylines of the race

  • 39 trucks qualified, the most since the season opener at Daytona International Speedway. The three unfortunate drivers to miss the show were Keith McGee, Bryan Dauzat and Justin Carroll.
  • Friesen set a breathtaking 256.996 km/h lap in qualifying to take pole. Amazingly, this is his first pole since the spring race at Martinsville in 2019.
  • The worst crash occurred on Lap 1, when seven different trucks were involved in a crash in Turn 3. The only driver badly affected was Bret Holmes, who spun a few laps later and crushed the rear of his No. 32, ending his race.
  • Kaden Honeycutt, who typically produces excellent results in his part-time program with Niece Motorsports, was in the midst of another great run before losing transmission fluid and having to drive behind the wall, spoiling another great night for the No. 45.
  • Although the first and second stages were marked by caution, there was only one caution in the final stage due to a spin by Jack Wood on lap 114.

The winning move

You can hardly speak of a “winning maneuver” for someone who was in the lead for all 150 laps. But Eckes actually managed the decisive maneuver in the first lap.

Starting third meant that Eckes had the inside lane on the first lap. As the field entered the first corner, Eckes pushed Friesen into the lead. However, Friesen raced up the hill at turn two, allowing Eckes to take the lead on the back straight.

As the field was about to finish the first lap, the big lightning bolt hit the middle to rear part of the starting grid.

Eckes was the leader, a position he would not relinquish for the rest of the evening. But it’s probably good for Eckes and the No. 19 team that the caution came when it did, otherwise he might not have led all 150 laps.

Championship overview

Eckes and Heim are the only drivers with three or more wins this year, making them the clear favorites for the 2024 championship. They are also the two favorites for the regular season championship. With the perfect night, Eckes extends his lead in the regular season to a whopping 40 points over Heim. It will take bad luck from Eckes for Heim to get back into the fight.

With six spots open and three races remaining, there are currently three drivers who can snatch a spot. As it stands (assuming there are no new winners), Tanner Gray currently holds the last spot, just 14 points ahead of Dye.

Those around the cut line had better hope there is no new winner, otherwise the entire playoff situation will be thrown into disarray.

Rookie report

How about Connor Jones!

The No. 66 finished 12th, the best result of any rookies on the night. Even though he’s only driving part-time, his chances of winning Rookie of the Year aren’t completely gone. His run in Nashville earned him Rookie of the Race honors for the first time this season.

Unfortunately, Jones is not scheduled to be in the truck for the next two races. According to his website, he is scheduled to return on August 10 at Richmond Raceway, which will put a damper on his ROTY title hopes.

No. 1 – Brenden Queen (19.)
No. 22 – Frankie Muniz (31.)
No. 26 – Dawson Sutton (18.)
No. 38 – Layne Riggs (25.)
No. 46 – Thad Moffitt (replaced; see below)
No. 66 – Conner Jones (12.)
No. 90 – Justin Carroll (DNQ)

Rookie of the Year candidate Moffitt was replaced by Dawson Cram for this race. Moffitt said on social media that the change was due to “changes outside of my control.” Despite the lack of clear answers, Faction46 politely declined comment. Front line about the change. Cram finished 20th, the team’s second-best result of the season.

An important lesson from this race

One of the biggest surprises during the race itself was a case of aggressive driving that resulted in sheet metal parts being bent.

Layne Riggs and Stefan Parsons were racing hard at the end of Stage 2, making contact three times over the course of two laps. The two were jockeying for position when Parsons slid under Riggs and both slid up the track in Turn 4, allowing Matt Crafton to pass both of them.

In the following corner, Parsons and Riggs raced up the hill again, colliding far more frequently than before. Riggs lost patience in turns 3 and 4 and sent Parsons up the hill and into the wall, triggering a caution and ending the stage. Parsons’ No. 75 sustained significant damage to the right rear of his truck.

In a surprise move, Riggs was then held back for two laps for reckless driving. He finished 25th, while Parsons finished one place behind him in 26th.

This penalty has rarely been used in the last decade or two. Since the “Boys, Have At It” era began in the late 2000s, NASCAR has relaxed the penalty for reckless driving. If someone wrecks a competitor badly enough, NASCAR simply parks the offender for the rest of the race. If it Really In the event of deficiencies, fines and/or suspension may be imposed.

Therefore, it is questionable when this penalty will be awarded.

Can you remember the last time a reckless driving penalty was assessed? In 2020, Justin Haley was penalized for wrecking Riley Herbst at Pocono Raceway in the Xfinity Series, and Carson Hocevar was penalized last season in that very series at Martinsville Speedway.

Both times, the drivers were held back for two laps. Now Riggs joins a very short list of drivers who received a penalty for careless driving in the 2020s. A call to the tow service was probably more beneficial to Riggs and Parsons than simply parking Riggs for two laps. Riggs even said on the radio that he thought what he did was fair game.

“That’s what Seth (presumably Barbour, a crew chief at Front Row Motorsports) told me at Martinsville,” Riggs explained over the radio. “Just don’t run her in on the right. You can do whatever you want with her bumper, but don’t run her in on the right.”

Riggs is right. NASCAR has maintained the precedent that a right hook to someone is grounds for a penalty and suspension for reckless driving. The contact between Riggs’ No. 38 and Parsons’ No. 75 was a bump-and-run compared to a right hook.

Additionally, the two previous crashes were due to Parsons losing control of his truck under Riggs. Riggs’ retaliation was merely the result of frustration over the two previous crashes. Parsons’ crash wasn’t even that bad, as he merely lost his form and hit the outside wall.

It would have been better if NASCAR had simply called the two to the tow truck after the race to discuss the matter, as has been done in the past. Instead, the two discussed the incident after the race.

That doesn’t change the fact that the idea of ​​a penalty for reckless driving is very vague and could use a little clarity if NASCAR insists on using it in the future. Not to mention that if there is to be such a rule, the sanctioning body will either have to enforce it more strongly or eliminate it entirely.

Its sporadic use confuses everyone, especially in circumstances that are considered more lenient than some of the incidents we have experienced that have gone entirely unpunished.

Talking truckers

McAnally-Hilgemann Racing celebrates the top-five finishes of Eckes, Dye and Tyler Ankrum:

Dye (second), Rajah Caruth (fourth) and Mills (eighth) summarize their respective evenings:

Heim comes in third in an unusually quiet night for him:

Clint Bowyer (17th), who returned for a one-off race, says he will return for at least one more NASCAR race and claims he cannot finish on this note:

Parsons describes his view of the contact with Riggs and says that No. 38 “threw his crap away”:

Honeycutt was frustrated by the initial mechanical problem:

Livery of the race

It looks like a paint job straight out of 2020.

Bowyer returned to NASCAR competition for the first time since 2020 and competed in the Truck Series for the first time since 2016. He joined Spire Motorsports and drove the team’s No. 7 All-Star Truck.

Rush Truck Centers came on board for this one-off project. The partnership resulted in a color scheme that looked like a one-to-one copy of the Rush Truck Centers paint scheme that Bowyer drove in the Cup Series during his time with Stewart-Haas Racing.

Bowyer finished 17th, but ran much better early in the race before his truck was damaged in a mid-race accident and he fell back.

Next station

We go to a big tricky triangle.

The Craftsman Truck Series has another week off (haven’t we had enough of those already?) before heading to Pocono Raceway. For the first time since 2014, the race distance changes, increasing from 150 miles (60 laps) to 175 miles (70 laps). Additionally, the Truck Series race moves back to a Friday night after two consecutive years as a Saturday doubleheader with the Xfinity Series.

Kyle Busch won the race last year with an epic last-lap pass over Heim, but he has reached his maximum of five races he can compete in this season, so he will not be able to defend his win.

Coverage of the CRC Brakleen 175 begins at approximately 5:30 p.m. ET on Friday, July 12. Network FOX will televise the show (check your local schedule), while Motor Racing Network will continue its radio coverage of the Truck Series throughout the season.

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