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Christian Eckes Tames Darlington With Statement Win

2023 darlington 1 Trucks Christian Eckes trophy Jared C Tilton Getty Images

Christian Eckes, running a throwback paint scheme to newly-inducted Hall of Famer Herschel McGriff’s 1950 Oldsmobile he drove in the 1950 Southern 500, led 82 laps and won stage one en route to a dominant win at Darlington Raceway in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race on May 12.

It wasn’t an easy win, as he had to hold off several drivers, including polesitter Corey Heim, Cup Series regular (and stage two winner) William Byron, and Stewart Friesen. Eckes was confirmed the winner when a caution came out after he had taken the white flag.

Friesen finished second, followed by Tanner Gray in third. Byron finished fourth, and Carson Hocevar rebounded from a late race spin to finish fifth.

It’s no surprise that McAnally-Hilgemann Racing’s No. 19 won at Darlington – it almost won at the same track in 2020 with Derek Kraus, finishing second to winner Ben Rhodes. This year, the team finally got the job done with Eckes.

Top Storylines of the Race

  • Kaden Honeycutt returned to the Truck Series after his six-race deal with Roper Racing – in which he impressed – ended following Martinsville Speedway. After sitting out at Kansas Speedway, he joined Young’s Motorsports on a last-minute deal to drive the No. 20. He finished 10th, giving the team its first top-10 of the season.

  • Bret Holmes was working without his regular crew chief, as Jerry Baxter was dealing with a medical issue and did not make the trip to Darlington. Jeff Stankiewicz, Sheldon Creed’s crew chief in the Xfinity Series, assumed crew chief duties for Holmes’ No. 32 for the night.
  • Points leader Ty Majeski had a poor night from the start, as he struggled with power steering during the opening stage of the race. At the beginning of stage two, Majeski pulled his No. 98 behind the wall, as the power steering and other issues with the truck became too much to handle. His crew was able to remedy the situation as much as possible and Majeski returned to the track. He gained a couple more positions due to crashes and retirements and finished 31st, 35 laps behind Eckes.
  • The first caution for incident came on lap 101 when Zane Smith attempted to pass Matt Crafton and touched Crafton’s left rear with his right front. Smith then lost control and collided with Chase Purdy and Colby Howard. Purdy slammed into the inside wall and failed to finish for the second week in a row, while Howard…

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