After more than a season full of impressive performances in a Late Model, the time is now for 15-year-old Christian Eckes to make the next step.
The New York native will climb that rung on his racing ladder on Saturday, April 9, when he makes his ARCA Racing Series debut in the Music City 200.
“I’m just really excited to just get the opportunity to make my ARCA debut,” said Eckes. “It’s really, really cool to be able to run with Venturini with the experience they have. Hopefully we’ll have a good run to show that we are ready for this next level and hopefully continue that path down the road.”
While the Music City 200 will be Eckes’ official debut in an ARCA event, the scene behind the wheel of an ARCA car will not be an unfamiliar one.
“We tested at the open test a few weeks ago and that went well,” added Eckes. “We had tested Motor Mile (Speedway in Virginia) about three weeks earlier than the Nashville test. At Motor Mile, I got the knowledge of how the cars handle and what to expect from them. But once we got to Nashville, it was all about learning the track, the line. It’s real tight coming off the corners, but it’s definitely a fun and challenging racetrack.”
Eckes will have the expertise of the Venturini Motorsports team behind him in Nashville. Since the team has already groomed young drivers into ARCA winners, Eckes enters Nashville knowing he could be the next in a long line of impressive ARCA debuts with VMS.
“Venturini has had a lot of young drivers like Todd Gilliand, Erik Jones, Kyle Benjamin and more that have had their learning curves cut that much shorter because of the experience of everyone at that team. It definitely improves the process because they know how young drivers like me are when they first get into an ARCA race and how to help guide them along. I’m looking forward to learning more and hopefully keeping the car in one piece for a good run Saturday night.”
While returning to his New York home with the prized jukebox trophy from Saturday’s Music City 200 is not being overlooked by Eckes, the teenager has attainable goals in mind.
“I think a top-10 finish is a solid goal for us,” said Eckes. “Based on how the car felt at the test and how we were on long-run speed, I definitely feel a top 10, maybe even a top-five, is not out of the picture.”
Two practice sessions for the ARCA Racing Series kick off the on-track action for the Music City 200 on Saturday, April 9 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville. Qualifying is scheduled for 4:15pm CT, with the green flag dropping on the Music City 200 at approximately 8pm CT.
For more on Christian Eckes, visit www.christianeckesracing.com, and be sure to follow him on Twitter, @ChristianEckes.
-51 Sports/Christian Eckes Racing press release
-Photo credit: Christian Eckes Racing