Third-Place Finish Gives Christian Eckes ARCA Menards Series Points Lead Headed to Salem

Third-Place Finish Gives Christian Eckes ARCA Menards Series Points Lead Headed to Salem

The most spoken words to Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio Toyota) over the course of the ARCA Pensacola 200 presented by Inspectra Thermal Solutions was “former Snowball Derby winner.” Hopefully, after his third-place finish in the first short track clash of the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season, the most spoken phrase he hears for the next month prior to the series’ next race at Salem Speedway is “points leader.”

Eckes got a little well-mannered grief from team owner Billy Venturini after the race for giving up second on the final lap to Ty Gibbs (No. 18 Monster Energy/ORCA Coolers/Advance Auto Parts Toyota), but that was before Venturini saw the damage to right front bodywork of Eckes’s car.

“You couldn’t block him for one corner?” Venturini said with a big grin as he walked up the track to congratulate Eckes on his  third-place finish.

“I tried man!” Eckes said with a laugh. “Ty did a great job and didn’t take any of my crap.”

Eckes, inspecting that damage, said he knew the fender was knocked in early in the race but wasn’t certain if affected the performance of the car. That is until he had a chance to look at it post-race.

“We got into it with the 14 (Connor Okrzesik) early in the race and I knew the fender was bent up, but I didn’t think it was a big deal or that it would hurt us very much,” Eckes said. “Looking at it now, I’d say it might have hurt way we ran the rest of the race. That happened after the first pit stop. Man, what an up and down day. It’s good to finish third but we were just lacking something today. I am sure we’ll get it figured out at Salem.”

Eckes was the highest driver in the ARCA Menards Series standings entered at Five Flags. Daytona winner Harrison Burton is competing full-time in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series this season and was not entered at Five Flags. That mean Eckes was the de facto points leader going in but following the race he was – for the first time in his career – the ARCA Menards Series championship leader.

“What a long up and down day,” he said. “These are the types of races that win championships. We’re the points leader going into Salem so we have a lot to look forward to. We won there in the spring last year, and Chandler (Smith, Venturini Motorsports teammate) won there last year. They tried a lot of new stuff so we should be good going back there. I don’t even know how many times Venturini Motorsports has won there, something like four out of the last six, so we’re looking forward to getting back there.”

Practice for the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers ARCA 200 is set for 11 am ET on Saturday, April 13 with General Tire Pole Qualifying scheduled for 3 pm ET that afternoon. The green flag on round three of the 2019 ARCA Menards Series season will drop shortly after 2 pm ET on Sunday, April 14. The race will be televised live on MAVTV and ARCA for Me members can access live timing & scoring, live chat, and live track updates at New members can register for free at



it's going to come down to him &  self for the championship  this season.


Likely unless they keep losing points for cheating.


you know that not just them if they  fail inspection each week right? everyboby else does at least once a season .


everybody else does at least once a season .