By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
The worst feeling in the world for a NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series rookie is being in front with victory in sight, only for problems snatching it away. That was the case for Christian Eckes, who crashed out while leading during the closing stages of Sunday’s Pocono Organics 150 at Pocono Raceway.
Already dealing with sinus problems and later a blown left ear drum, the 19-year-old rookie had the race in control with only his temporary Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate Brandon Jones hot on his tale.
However, Eckes’ bid of a maiden Truck Series victory went awry on Lap 49. The 2019 ARCA Menards Series champion reported that his right rear tire was going down and once he exited the Long Pond Straight, it let go.
— NASCAR Gander Trucks (@NASCAR_Trucks) June 28, 2020
His No. 18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota Tundra slammed the Tunnel Turn wall, bringing out the 8th caution of the day and ended his race in 33rd after leading 10 of 60 laps.
Eckes held himself accountable for the incident, saying the contact on pit road with Chase Purdy, who was making his series debut, factored into the demise on what was an up-and-down race before taking the lead from Jones on Lap 49.
We even have trucks colliding on Pit Road, as Christian Eckes and Chase Purdy come together. pic.twitter.com/WgZCYwkGdD
— Vincent Bruins (@VincentJBruins) June 28, 2020
“It sucks for sure and probably caused by me,” Eckes on his late-race exit. “We had a little bit of contact on pit road. It might’ve created a rub or something, I don’t know.
“They said everything was cleared, but who knows. Something could’ve happened but we had a fast Tundra. Just never could really get a lot of track position. We finally got up there in the end and blew a tire. Guess we’ll move on to Kentucky.”
When the dust finally settled, Jones ended up scoring his maiden series win after passing Sheldon Creed, also fighting for that elusive victory, at the same corner where Eckes crashed out.
The next stop for the Truck Series will be at Kentucky Speedway for the running of the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225 July 11. Live race coverage begins at 6 p.m. EST on FS1.