Christian Eckes frustrated, after Gateway runner-up

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MADISON, Ill. — Christian Eckes reached into his truck and took a swig of his drink on pit road at Gateway. He leaned against it, eyes sulken and downtrodden.

“Two of the last three races, we have been leading and the caution comes out late,” he said.

Given Eckes had the race won until a late caution, I understand his frustration.

Christian Eckes frustrated, after runner-up at Gateway

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With five laps to go in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Toyota 200 at World Wide Technology Raceway, Eckes overtook Derek Kraus for the race lead into Turn 1. He pulled away and had the race in check, until Tanner Gray hit the wall in Turn 3 with three laps to go and forced overtime.

The outside line was the strong line on restarts. So to Eckes, picking it was “a no brainer.”

It wasn’t for him, however.

On the overtime restart, he spun his tires and lost the lead to Corey Heim.

“Just didn’t get a good launch,” he said.

By the time he passed Chandler Smith for second, Heim pulled away from the field. Whatever chance he had to reel in Heim evaporated when Carson Hocevar spun out in Turn 1 and got t-boned on the final lap.

This sealed Heim’s secocnd career victory, and left Eckes wondering what he could’ve done different.

“It’s just really frustrating,” he said. “The past three weeks, we should have won, and we didn’t. I’m going to go back to the drawing board and figure some stuff out.”

Christian Eckes frustrated, after runner-up at Gateway

All in all, Eckes’ runner-up finish, combined with an eighth-place finish in Stage 1, moved him up to sixth in points. Seventy ahead of Grant Enfinger in the cutoff for the final playoff spot.

“It just sucks, but very proud of my ThorSport Racing team,” he said.

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