TOLEDO, Ohio (June 14, 2017) — Sixteen-year-old Christian Eckes isn’t asking for a lot…about two feet would do just fine. That’s how much he missed out on winning his first ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards victory his last time out at Elko Speedway. Eckes, of Middletown, N.Y., finished a career-best second to ARCA championship points leader Austin Theriault at Elko. The 2016 Snowball Derby winner also finished third back in April at Nashville.
He may have a leg-up on the competition at Madison Int’l Speedway when the Montgomery Ward 200 comes to town Friday, June 23. Unlike most tracks on ARCA’s tour, Eckes has seen this one before. Eckes, who drives the No. 15 New York Bus Sales Toyota for Venturini Motorsports, qualified fifth last year at Madison, but fell out with mechanical issues. Despite the DNF, he still got more than a hundred laps in to get to know the famous short track in Madison, Wisconsin.
“We had a really good time at Madison last year,” said Eckes. “I really like the race track. It really fits my driving style…short, tight, racy…my kind of race track.”
Eckes also says it’s like no other track he’s ever raced at.
“There’s nothing like it. You go off in the corner and it’s like you’re driving into a hole, but you come right out the other end, usually double-file. It’s a really cool track.”
Eckes now knows he can win at this level and feels like the victory is coming soon.
“We absolutely know we can win. If you’re driving for Venturini, you know without turning a lap you’ve got a shot. Me and my Venturini team were in contention all last year. Things didn’t play into our favor, but if you add what we’ve done this year, it’s a real confidence booster. We’re very confident we’re going to get a win sometime this year.”
And it would not be a stretch to see that first win come at Madison.
“We’ve been so close. On the other hand, it’s very hard to win an ARCA race. ARCA has been so competitive this year…if you miss it by a little bit, as little as 5 percent, it’ll take you from a top-5 to a top-10. I’d be satisfied with a top-5…top-3, but a win would make everything right.”
“Save Big Money” on discounted tickets at Menards for Madison
Discounted tickets for the Friday, June 23 Montgomery Ward 200 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards event at Madison Int’l Speedway are still available at 27 Menards stores across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois.
The offer for discounted tickets will remain in place up through June 22. Tickets purchased at participating Menards stores are available for just $15, which is $10 off the raceday gate price of $25. Kids 6 – 11 are just $10 at the track gate. Kids 5 and under are free. For a complete listing of participating Menards stores selling discounted tickets, CLICK HERE.
ARCA’s 9th trip to Madison Int’l Speedway
The ARCA Racing Series stretches out over five decades at Madison Int’l Speedway, having first raced there in July of 1970 – two-time ARCA champion Ramo Stott won the inaugural race. Tom Bowsher won the ARCA race at Madison in May of 1971, and Bruce Gould is in the history books as the 1973 ARCA winner. However, nearly 40 years would go by before the ARCA Racing Series would return to Madison in 2011.
Modern-day ARCA winners at Madison make ARCA/NASCAR champs
More recent ARCA winners at Madison include Josh Williams (2016), Justin Boston (2014), Kyle Benjamin (2013), Chris Buescher (2012) and Alex Bowman (2011). Buescher, the 2012 ARCA Racing Series national champion, earned the NASCAR Xfinity Series championship in 2015. Buescher is now a full-time driver in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. Bowman also went on to compete in the Xfinity and Cup Series.
From Daytona to the dirt
The ARCA Racing Series, in its 65th season of competition, is often regarded as the most versatile tour in America with its unique combinations of superspeedways, short tracks, road courses and even a couple of mile dirt tracks upcoming on the schedule in Illinois. The ARCA tour opens each season at Daytona Int’l Speedway in February and concludes at Kansas Speedway in October.
Weekend schedule/On-track autograph session/Media coverage
Practice for the ARCA Racing Series at Madison is Friday, June 23 from 1:30 – 3 p.m., with General Tire Pole Qualifying following at 5. An on-track autograph session goes from 6:30 – 7:30, followed by pre-race ceremonies and driver introductions. The 200-lap Montgomery Ward 200 at Madison begins at 8 p.m. Friday night. The race airs live on MAVTV. There will also be live timing and scoring and live chat at ARCAracing.com. All times are local, Central.