Complications from food poisoning sidelined Christian Eckes from the ARCA Menards Series event at Salem Speedway (IN) on April 14, but the 18-year-old driver is ready to return to the driver’s seat as the series goes to Talladega Superspeedway (AL) this weekend.
Following Saturday’s on-track activities for the ARCA event at Salem, Eckes was hospitalized after suffering a small esophageal tear in his trachea. He has since been treated and released, but he was unable to race on Sunday and Harrison Burton piloted his car in relief to an eighth-place finish.
Tuesday evening, Eckes received full clearance to race again, and will return to the cockpit on Friday, April 26 at Talladega.
“The plan is for me to race. I feel well enough,” Eckes told Speed51. “Obviously, my strength took a little bit of a toll over the past week or so, but I’ve been working on that with my trainers to get back rolling. I think we’ll be good enough to compete for the win at Talladega.”
A win at Talladega would be extra special for Eckes this weekend. Talladega is always one of the marquee races on the ARCA Menards Series schedule. However, the events leading up to Salem would add extra meaning to a Talladega triumph.
“Obviously, we want to win every race, but this one would definitely feel extra special to me for what my team has gone through in the past week, week and a half,” Eckes said. “Winning at Talladega would mean a lot.”
Eckes led the ARCA Menards Series points following their second race of the season at Five Flags Speedway (FL), but missing the Salem event cost him the points lead.
“It was really unfortunate circumstances and everything,” he stated. “It sucked. There’s no other way around it. It was terrible, coming in as the points leader and everything. I was prepared to race, and instead I was stuck in the hospital for a few days after that.”
Despite Eckes’ absence, relief driver Harrison Burton was able to drive the car from the rear of the field to an eighth-place finish in the event shortened by rain.
“I felt we had a really good car on Saturday at Salem,” Eckes said. “I don’t think the results proved what we had. The circumstances that Harrison dealt with didn’t show the car’s speed and everything. It was just unfortunate that we weren’t able to race. I felt we had a great car. Harrison did the best he could, and that’s all we can ask for.”
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Speed51.com photo