Christian Eckes wins Truck race at Las Vegas

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LAS VEGAS – Christian Eckes, running a partial schedule this season, scored his first career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win Friday, leading ThorSport Racing to a 1-2-3-4 finish on a night when many of the playoff contenders had problems.

“This is big,” Eckes told FS1. “It’s been a tough year. Hopefully I proved I can still do this.”

Eckes has run nine of 19 races this season. He ran the full season last year for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Eckes, 20, led teammate Ben Rhodes when the caution came out on the last lap at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Matt Crafton was third. Johnny Sauter placed fourth. Todd Gilliland finished fifth.

Rhodes took the points lead with his runner-up result.

MORE: Race results, driver points

It was a rough night for some of the playoff contenders. Four of the top five in points failed to finish or finished multiple laps down.

The biggest incident collected playoff drivers Sheldon Creed, who entered second in points, and Chandler Smith, who entered three points below the cutline.

Smith couldn’t avoid a spinning Tyler Ankrum and hit Ankrum’s truck on Lap 71 of the 134-lap race. That sent Smith down the track. Sheldon Creed slammed into Smith’s truck on the apron. Both playoff drivers were eliminated. Also involved in the crash were Hailie Deegan and Chase Purdy. Creed said he was trying to avoid Deegan’s truck and didn’t see Smith coming down the track.

Creed finished 36th. Smith finished 35th. Ankrum was 34th.

John Hunter Nemechek, who entered as the points leader, had ignition issues throughout the race that caused the power to cut in and out. He slowed on Lap 49 and lost eight positions to 13th. Power returned and he was back up to speed. A few laps later, he again had ignition issues and stopped on track. He fell two laps down. Nemechek lost power again on Lap 79 and stopped on track. He went to the garage for repairs. Nemechek placed 33rd.

Zane Smith, who entered the night on the cutline, suffered a cut left rear tire after running three-wide and getting hit by Nemechek’s truck on Lap 38. The left rear came apart and ripped out the battery, causing the truck to lose power. He lost 18 laps before returning to the track. Zane Smith placed 29th.

Carson Hocevar had a tire go down and spun to bring out the caution with less than 10 laps left. NASCAR held him a lap for causing the caution. He finished 22nd.

STAGE 1 WINNER: John Hunter Nemechek

STAGE 2 WINNER: Todd Gilliland

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Five of the eight playoff drivers finished outside the top 20: Carson Hocevar was 22nd, Zane Smith placed 29th, John Hunter Nemechek finished 33rd, Chandler Smith was 35th and Sheldon Creed finished 36th in the 37-car field.

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: ThorSport Racing took the four positions. … Johnny Sauter’s fourth-place finish marked his fourth consecutive top-10 result. … Austin Wayne Self finished a season-high eighth. … Ryan Truex was ninth, his best finish since placing fourth in the season-opening race at Daytona.

NOTABLE: Howie DiSavino III placed 26th less than a week after his mother lost her five-year battle with cancer. He had her name above the door of his truck.

NEXT: The Round of 8 continues Oct. 2 at Talladega Superspeedway (1 p.m. ET, FS1).