The ARCA Menards Series will soon embark on a busy stretch of three races at three unique race tracks over three weekends. However, competitors such as Christian Eckes are able to enjoy an off weekend following Independence Day to recharge for the run to the series title.
Still, racing is just around the corner for Eckes, and he’s already looking forward to the next date on the schedule at Elko Speedway (MN) on Saturday, July 13.
“It’s been a little bit nice,” Eckes told Speed51 about his open weekend. “I’ve been able to catch up on stuff I needed to do. Just getting ready for Elko. It’s one of the places I really enjoy going. It’s so raceable, and I’ve always run well there in the past. We’ll go and capitalize on that and close in on that points lead.”
Over the three-week stretch in July, ARCA teams will compete at the tight 3/8-mile Elko bullring, the quick and racey 7/8-mile Iowa Speedway, and one of the largest tracks on the ARCA schedule in Pocono Raceway (PA).
Eckes has a pair of runner-up finishes previously at Elko and a third-place run earlier this year at Pocono under his belt. However, ARCA success at Iowa has eluded him, with a best finish of eighth in 2017 over three starts.
“Luckily I’ve always run good at Elko and Pocono in the past,” Eckes said. “I’ve got a little bit of work to do for Iowa. Iowa is one I circled at the beginning of the year. I haven’t run well there in the past. It’s tough to get a handle on. I feel pretty confident for Elko and Pocono, I just need to get a little work in for Iowa and fix my problems there.”
In the four-way battle for the ARCA championship, Eckes currently sits fourth, just 85 markers behind Venturini Motorsports teammate and points leader Michael Self. Eckes says fewer mistakes will be necessary to close the gap after missing a race earlier this year due to illness.
“Really, we’ve just got to stop shooting ourselves in the foot,” he stated. “We got within 80 after Nashville, then we’d shoot ourselves in the foot. We’d get back, we’d shoot ourselves in the foot.
“The biggest thing is capitalizing on what we have. We have tons of speed and everything. We just need uneventful races. Flat tires, breaking parts, me making mistakes, we’ve shot ourselves in the foot too many times.”
While there have been too many issues for Eckes’ liking in 2019, he notes that his No. 15 team has done a great job to minimize issues and come away with strong results
“It seems like when Michael or the other guys make mistakes, it’s a thirteenth,” he said. “We’ve been able to finish when we make a mistake and get a top-ten. I don’t know if that’s just luck or what, but even when we break a part and are trying to ride it out, we manage to finish seventh.”
Still, ever the competitor, the 2016 Snowball Derby winner wants to turn those consistent finishes into race wins to close the points gap.
“We’re lucky those haven’t turned into 13ths, but still, seventh is 40 points out [of first],” Eckes said. “We’ve finished there three times in the last four races.”
The Menards 250 at Elko Speedway will be held on Saturday, July 13. The race will begin at 9 p.m. Central (10 p.m. Eastern) and will be televised live on MAVTV.
For more information about Christian Eckes, visit www.christianeckesracing.com.
-Story by: Zach Evans, Speed51.com Southeast Editor – Twitter: @ztevans
-Photo credit: Venturini Motorsports