For the second consecutive ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards race, a Venturini Motorsports young gun dominated on his way to victory lane. This time, it was Christian Eckes winning his third ARCA race of the season at Lucas Oil Raceway just outside Indianapolis, leading 170 of the 200 laps in the process.
The 2016 Snowball Derby champion set a new track record in qualifying and was nearly untouchable throughout the race. He took the checkered flag by 11.5 seconds over series points leader Sheldon Creed.
“Our car was just unbelievable. There's nothing else to say really,” Eckes told Speed51.com. “The guys did a great job preparing this thing. It showed how good we were and how good the race car was with getting the pole and getting the win in the same day. I’m super happy. This was a good day and I had a good race car, so it was fun.”
After competing in the series part time for two years, the New York native picked up his first career ARCA win at Salem Speedway in April after several near-misses. After what he considered a surprise win on the dirt at Springfield, Eckes left no doubts as he cruised to victory at Lucas Oil Raceway.
“We’re on a part-time schedule, so it’s really cool to finish like this and win at the end of the year. I couldn’t be happier,” Eckes said. “We were really looking forward to this. We got some really decent notes this entire year. We’ve just been building and building and building. Me and (crew chief) Kevin (Reed) get along better and we’ve formed a relationship there. As a whole, it’s been a good deal.”
ARCA Racing Series points leader Sheldon Creed came home in second after struggling in the early stages of the race. His second-place finish earned him the Sioux Chief Short Track Challenge championship for 2018.
“We ran second there at the beginning,” Creed said. “We fought tight in that first segment and then we put right sides on and then fought loose and then tight again. Our car wasn’t bad. During the first ten laps it was decent but it got tight by the end of a run. I want to be as fast as the 15 (Eckes) obviously but overall it was a good night.”
After Saturday night’s race, Creed heads into the season finale with a 405-point lead over teammate Zane Smith. After only competing part time in ARCA over the past couple years, he is on the verge of winning his first series championship.
“At the beginning of the year we didn’t know what to expect,” Creed admitted. “All I knew was we had one goal and that was to win the championship. I have a really good gap going into the last round, so we’re just going to have fun with it.”
Venturini Motorsports teammate Chandler Smith finished in third, followed by MDM Racing driver Chase Purdy and Carson Hocevar rounding out the top five.
The final race of the ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards season is at the Kansas Speedway on Friday, October 19.
A tape-delayed broadcast of Saturday night's race at Lucas Oil Raceway will air at a later date on MAVTV.
-Story by Koty Geyer, Speed51.com State Editor (IN & MI)
-Photo credit: Speed51.com