Gander Outdoors Truck Series News (6089)
Gander Outdoors Truck Series News
Christian Eckes Looking Ahead to 14-Hour Day in ARCA Menards Series/NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Doubleheader at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway17 Jun 2019 Written by Steven B. Wilson
The second half of the 2019 ARCA Menards Series kicks off with the Day to Day Coffee 150 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway just across the mighty Mississippi from downtown St. Louis in Madison, Illinois on Saturday, June 22. The race, part of a unique same-day doubleheader with the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, will take the green flag for 120 laps shortly after 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT that evening.
Between the two series, the day will feature over three and a half hours of practice, two qualifying sessions, and 350 miles of racing action.
The day’s track activity is scheduled to start at 10:35 A.M. local time and end some time around midnight when the Gander Truck race sees the checkered flag. Nearly 14 hours of uninterrupted track time makes it a long day for everyone involved. It makes it even longer for drivers doing double duty.
Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) is scheduled to compete in both series. Currently fourth in the ARCA Menards Series with one win in his nine previous starts this season, Eckes has also made a splash in his limited Truck starts over the last season and a half. He made his Truck debut at Iowa last summer and finished eighth then went to Gateway last where he qualified second, won the first stage and led a total of 34 laps before an accident ended his night early. He finished ninth in his other two starts last season at Martinsville and Phoenix. He started from the pole in both the ARCA and Truck season openers at Daytona in 2019, and he picked up his fourth-career ARCA win earlier this season at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville.
Fourteen hours in a passenger car would be tough for anyone, but Eckes is looking forward to the challenge the long day at Gateway will present him.
“It’s one of my favorite race tracks,” Eckes said. “We should have won both of those races last year. It’s going to be a very long day. I didn’t even think about the fact it’s going to be a fourteen-hour day until right now. I think between the ARCA car and the Truck we should have a chance to win both races.”
Despite his youth, he’s still just 18 years of age, Eckes has built a record many drivers with years of experience would envy. He won the Myrtle Beach 400 and then followed that with a win in the famed Snowball Derby in 2016. He’s been a part of Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s late model program before making the leap to the Toyota driver development program which has allowed him to race for the Venturini family in ARCA and Kyle Busch Motorsports in the Truck Series.
Busch has been very outspoken about the performance of his young Gander Trucks drivers this season. While he’s only run one previous race with the team to this point of the season and might not have been fully included in those comments, Eckes wouldn’t shy away from receiving that type of criticism from his owner.
“I think it depends on the person, but for me I would rather hear it up front,” he said. “I don’t know if that works for everybody. We’ve always had a way of coming back after some tough times. I feel like I am good at knowing what I need to do better. You have to be honest with yourself. I appreciate Kyle or whoever it is telling me like it is and pointing me in the right direction.”
That criticism doesn’t necessarily add to the pressure to perform.
“It doesn’t add to that pressure at all for me,” Eckes said. “I agree with him. He has great stuff. We should be able to go out and win in that equipment. I feel like there are a couple of races we have left on our schedule that we should be able to go out and win in the Truck. I don’t let that distract me from what I am doing though. I expect a lot out of myself already.”
Eckes has had a trying season to this point. One of the pre-season favorites to contend for the ARCA Menards Series championship, Eckes missed the third race of the season at Salem Speedway due to an illness the night before the race. Eckes’ health recovered quickly, but his luck didn’t. He was involved in an accident and finished 26th in the next series race at Talladega. Despite giving up nearly two full races worth of points to teammate Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Lubricants Toyota), Eckes is just 115 points out of the championship points lead.
Even though he missed that early-season race, Eckes believes he still has a solid chance to win the championship. But in order to do that, he and his Kevin Reed-led team cannot give away any more of those valuable championship points.
“I think we have lacked on some of our opportunities, so I give us a B to this point,” he said, grading his performance to this point of the year. “We haven’t capitalized the way I would have liked to. We’ve had great racecars to this point. We need to start putting full races together. We have great speed and everything we need to go do it. We need to eliminate the failures we have, whether it’s on the car or with the driver. If we can do that we’ll be good.”
Practice for the ARCA Menards Series Day to Day Coffee 150 at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway is scheduled from 12:35 pm ET/11:35 pm CT and 2:30 pm ET/1:30 pm CT; General Tire Pole Qualifying is set for 5:30 pm ET/4:30 pm CT, and the green flag will fall on the 120 lap/150-mile race at 7:30 pm ET/6:30 pm CT. The race will be televised live on MAVTV. ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live track updates, and live chat throughout all on-track activities at ARCAracing.com. New users can register for free with a valid email address at ARCAracing.com/login. For ticket information, call 618-215-8888 or log on to www.wwtraceway.com.
ARCA Menards Series PR
Austin Hill was credited with a 12th-place finish in Sunday afternoon’s rescheduled running of the M&M’s 200 at Iowa Speedway. Hill posted a track-best finish at Iowa after starting ninth and fighting back after sustaining significant damage to his ARCO National Construction Toyota in the second half of the event.
After rain washed out qualifying Saturday and forced the postponement of the M&M’s 200 to Sunday, Hill began his afternoon from ninth and managed to stay in the top-10 despite battling a loose handling condition in the early laps. Crew chief Scott Zipadelli gave Hill four tires and air pressure changes after finishing eighth in Stage 1 at lap 60. Hill restarted seventh on lap 67 after quick work by the No. 16 pit crew. The loose condition persisted despite the adjustments and ran the balance of Stage 2 in ninth and collected two points the conclusion of the stage on lap 120.
In the final stage, Hill was running seventh when he and the No. 13 truck made contact while racing for position. That resulted in a caution on lap 138 and Hill subsequently suffering significant damage after contact from the No. 13 machine under the yellow flag. Zipadelli and the ARCO National Construction team made ample repairs to Hill’s Tundra and returned him to action in order to salvage as many points as possible.
Hill restarted 17th on lap 145 and managed to overcome the damage sustained to his truck to run as high as 12th position. The Winston, GA native took the checkered flag in 13th, but was credited with a 12th-place result after the initial winner was disqualified following post-race inspection. Hill still resides in seventh in the NASCAR Gander Outdoor Truck Series standings after 10 events.
- Herbst started the 200-lap event from the 26th spot after Saturday's qualifying session was cancelled due to rain and the field was set based on Gander Trucks owner's points.
- By lap 15 he had made his way inside the top 20, but stalled out at the 18th position has he communicated that his Tundra was tight. He had just gotten lapped by teammate Chandler Smith when the first caution of the race occurred on lap 53. After getting awarded the Lucky Dog, he brought his No. 46 Tundra to the attention of the over-the-wall crew who administered a four-tire and fuel stop.
- The Monster Energy/Advance Auto Parts Tundra took the lap-58 restart from the 18th spot and gained one position over the final two laps of Stage One.
- Herbst took the green flag for Stage Two in the 16th position and was running 17th when he got lapped on lap 117. He ended Stage Two scored in the 18th position.
- Crew Chief Marcus Richmond summoned Herbst to pit road for a four-tire and fuel stop with a wedge adjustment in an effort to improve the handling for his young driver.
- The No. 46 Toyota was scored in the 21st position when the Final Stage went green on lap 129. When the fourth and final caution of the race occurred on lap 137, Herbst once again was awarded the Lucky Dog and returned to the lead lap. Richmond brought his driver down pit road for a full tank of fuel and a chassis adjustment.
- Herbst restarted from the 16th spot on lap 144. The race went to the finish on a long green-flag run and he crossed the stripe in the 16th position.
- Ross Chastain's unofficial winning truck was disqualified in post-race technical inspection, moving the No. 46 team up to 15th for the official results..
- Qualifying for the event was canceled due to weather and the field was set per the rule book, giving the pole position to Smith.
- Smith jumped to the lead as soon as the green flag flew, but almost immediately reported that he could not hear his team over the radio.
- Despite having no communications with his spotter or crew chief Rudy Fugle, the young driver led the first 55 laps before the first caution came out, enabling the team to signal to the driver to pit for four tires and radio repairs.
- At the stage conclusion, Smith was 15th and Fugle kept him on track to regain track position.
- Smith started the second stage in in the 14th position, but was within the top 10 in less than 10 laps, and had regained the top five by lap 82.
- The talented teenager told his crew that his Safelite AutoGlass Tundra was driving like a beauty as he navigated through traffic, then eventually reported that the machine began to get a little tight.
- Smith was able to finish the stage in fourth.
- Fugle called him to pit road at the end of the stage for four tires and fuel, and the young driver was hit with a speeding penalty on pit road.
- Smith began the final stage at the tail end of the field to serve his penalty.
- By lap 148, the No. 51 was back in the top 10, but Smith reported that his Tundra was tight.
- He was unable to gain much more track position, but eventually would earn an eighth-place finish in his first NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series start.
- Burton started the 200-lap event from the 10th spot after Saturday's qualifying session was cancelled due to rain and the field was set based on Gander Trucks owner's points.
- The talented teenager communicated that his Morton Buildings Tundra was "tight landing and free on throttle," in the early laps of Stage One as he ran 10th. After the first caution on the race occurred on lap 53, crew chief Mike Hillman Jr. summoned his young driver to pit road for four fresh tires, a full tank of fuel and a trackbar adjustment
- The No. 18 Toyota was scored in the 10th spot for the lap-58 restart and was able to gain one spot over the final two laps.
- With one truck ahead of him hitting pit road between stages, Burton moved up to eighth when Stage Two went green on lap 66. He entered the top five for the first time on lap 72, but on lap 80 fell back to sixth and would remain there when Stage Two came to a completion on lap 120.
- He communicated that his Morton Buildings Tundra was "tight center and loose on throttle," before hitting pit road.
- Hillman Jr. ordered up a four-tire and fuel stop with a wedge adjustment. Burton exited the pits fifth, but his KBM teammate Chandler Smith was penalized for speeding on pit road, moving the No. 18 team up to fourth when the Final Stage went green on lap 129.
- Burton had fallen back to fifth when the fourth and final caution occurred on lap139. On lap 147 he gained the fourth spot back and would remain there throughout the final long green-flag run.
- Ross Chastain's unofficial winning truck was disqualified in post-race technical inspection, moving the No. 18 team up to third for the official results.
Ross Chastain won both stages of the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series M&Ms 200 presented by Casey’s General Store at Iowa Speedway and took the checkered flag, but during post-race inspection, his truck was found to be too low in the front. As a result of new rules introduced beginning with the 2019 season, Chastain was subsequently disqualified as the race winner and relegated to the last-place finishing position and points.
Less than two weeks after declaring his intention to pursue championship points in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series, Chastain appeared to have scored his second Gander Trucks win and second with Niece Motorsports. The series declaration allowed Chastain to compete in the Triple Truck Challenge and gave him an opportunity to challenge for a playoff berth since he’s started every Gander Trucks race in 2019.
But problems emerged in M&M’S 200 post-race inspection. NASCAR officials found the No. 44 TruNorth/Paul Jr Designs Chevrolet was too low and stripped the win from Chastain, instead handing Moffitt his first victory of 2019 despite not leading a lap in the race. It’s the first disqualification of a winner in NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series history, dating back to the 1995 season.
“This is not the way you wanna win,” said Moffitt in the Mediacom Media Center. “I know I got beat on the track.
"But I’ll take a win any way I can get it"
With Chastain’s misfortune, the Iowa native was officially declared the winner of the M&M’S 200 presented by Casey’s General Store, defending his victory from 2018. This was his first win of 2019 in his first season with GMS Racing.
“For the integrity of the sport,” Moffitt said, “It is the right thing.”
In addition to the race win, Moffitt earns the $50,000 bonus for winning the second race of the Triple Truck Challenge. As part of the Destiny Homes S.M.A.R.T Series Dream Home Giveaway, a lucky fan can win a Chevrolet Silverado if Moffitt can repeat next week at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway on Saturday, June 22.
Iowa Speedway PR
Brett Moffitt shed his race suit. He simmered silently in street clothes, sipped on a beer, and stewed over what seemed to be a missed opportunity at his home state track.
Then strange, but welcomed news arrived — and that brew tasted somewhat sweet rather than extremely bitter.
Ross Chastain’s No. 44 truck, which he apparently wheeled to a much-needed victory, had failed post-race inspection because of being too low in the front.
Suddenly, a sense of second-place dejection transformed into mild celebration, as Moffitt repeated as the official race winner of Sunday’s NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series M&M’s 200 race at Iowa Speedway.
“Obviously I was very disappointed,” said Moffitt, the defending series champ who grew up in nearby Grimes, Iowa.
“It’s a big change of emotions — and obviously this is not the way I want to win it. As a driver, I still know I got beat on the track, which is frustrating. But back in the beginning of the year when NASCAR implemented this new system, it was to clear up the Tuesday disqualifications and the encumbered wins and let the fans know and everybody else know who actually won the race. I’d still rather take the checkered and be the first one to it, but I’ll take a win any way I can get it.”
Ben Rhodes took second and Harrison Burton, Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen completed the top five.
Moffitt’s win cemented his spot in the series playoffs. It also earned his team $50,000 for winning the second stage of the Triple Truck Challenge, while giving him a sunny Father’s Day ending on what had seemed to be a deeply disappointing afternoon.
“I was halfway to the airport,” Moffitt said. “I was already changed in the motor home drinking some beers and headed to the airport and mad as hell. I didn’t know and then the team called me and said, ‘Head back this way.’ So obviously there was an issue, but I think for the integrity of the sport, it’s the right thing to do. Obviously I came out on the good end of it. Obviously if I were in Ross’s shoes, I probably wouldn’t be too thrilled about it, but it is what it is.”
That’s an odd, unexpected victory — and a sweeping change of emotions for the driver of the No. 24 Destiny Homes Smart Series Chevrolet.
“I went from drinking my sorrows away to being happy,” Moffitt quipped.
Chastain had dominated the final 141 laps. He declared for Xfinity Series points earlier this season, but shifted to chasing the Truck Series playoffs this month and was giddy about doing the “hard part” — winning a race — as accruing enough points to be in the top-20 would almost certainly happen.
But instead of being one step closer to qualifying for the playoffs, he lost ground and finished last.
“Basically we have a procedure and rules in place, trucks are restricted on their ride heights, the front and the rear of the vehicles,” said NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series Managing Director Brad Moran, who spoke to media to explain the decision.
“Unfortunately the 44 (truck) was low on the front — extremely low. We have a process of what happens at that point. They do get an opportunity to roll around. They put fuel in the vehicle. They put air the tires.”
Then, Moran added, officials wait at least 5-10 minutes to inspect the car again, but that re-inspection failed to help Chastain’s team. “Unfortunately, the 44 did not rise on the front at all,” Moran said.
Moran said, per the rulebook, the team is allowed to appeal the decision and the process would be expedited. The No. 44’s team must indicate by noon ET Monday if it plans to appeal.
The jaw-dropping post-race development was preceded by a dramatic on-track clash. Austin Hill took exception to contact from Johnny Sauter and responded with a push to Sauter, which sent his No. 13 into the wall.
Sauter did not pit. Instead, as Hill wheeled his No. 16 ARCO National Construction Toyota back around the track, Sauter retaliated, using his No. 13 Tenda Products Ford to spin out Hill.
The incident ended Sauter’s day. Hill recovered to claim 13th. The shared animosity is likely to simmer long past this weekend.
“If he wants to come talk to me about it he can,” Hill said after the race. “But there won’t be nice words.”
Moffitt wasn’t muttering “nice words” after the race, either, until his phone buzzed and he smiled as the surprise winner.
“It’s a rollercoaster of emotions,” Moffitt said. “I’ve been through that a lot in my career and thankfully it worked out in my favor for once.”
NASCAR found the No. 44 Chevrolet of race winner Ross Chastain too low during post-race inspection on Sunday at Iowa Speedway. As a result, Chastain has been disqualified and Brett Moffitt has been declared as the new race winner.
The disqualification means that Ross Chastain will receive one point for the race and no points for winning both stages. The points for winning a stage will now be given to whomever finished second in stages one and two on laps 60 and 120.
Niece Motorsports has until noon eastern on Monday to file an appeal.
Ross Chastain led 141 of the 200 laps at Iowa Speedway to win the M&M’s 200 at the 0.875-mile oval on Sunday. Chastain claimed both stages of the 175-mile event to score his second career win in the series.
Iowa native Brett Moffitt sat second on the leaderboard when the checkered flag fell. Moffitt, driving the No. 24 Chevrolet, started sixth and sat seventh in stage one and third in stage two.
The reigning series champion leaves the Iowa track with five top five and six top 10 finishes.
Chastain will leave the track sitting 25th in driver points after declaring for Gander Outdoors Truck Series points ahead of last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway. The Florida native is now locked into the playoffs as long as he gets into the top 20 in points by the cutoff.
With 10 Gander Outdoors Truck Series races complete in 2019 – Ross Chastain leaves Iowa with two wins, four top five and 10 top 10 finishes.
Ben Rhodes and Harrison Burton rounded out the top five.
Stewart Friesen, Sheldon Creed, Matt Crafton, Chandler Smith and Raphael Lessard rounded out the top 10.
Two of the four yellow flags throughout the M&M’s 200 came out for on-track incidents. The first yellow of the day came out for Juan Gonzalez in turn four. The next two were for stage breaks at laps 60 and 120.
The big one came out involving Johnny Sauter and Austin Hill on lap 139 in turn four. Following the incident, while circling under yellow flag, Sauter waited for Hill to come back around to punt the No. 16 Toyota.
Sauter, who led the field for only one circuit, was parked for the day and had to visit the NASCAR trailer before exiting the track. The Wisconsin native finished 28th as a result. Hill went on to take home the 13th spot.
The next race for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series will be at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway. The Gateway 200 will air live on FS1 and MRN Radio at 8:30 p.m. ET. On June 22nd.