Christian Eckes

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Austin Hill wins Truck race at Vegas; Johnny Sauter, Grant Enfinger exit playoffs

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Austin Hill roared to the lead late and held on to win for the third time this season in Friday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoff race. While Hill celebrated, two ThorSport Racing teams were eliminated from title contention.

ThorSport Racing lost three trucksdue to mechanical failures. As a result, Enfinger, the regular-season champion and Johnny Sauter were eliminated. Teammate Matt Crafton also had mechanical failure but advanced.

The second round begins next month at Talladega. Joining Hill in the second round will be: Brett Moffitt, Ross Chastain, Stewart Friesen, Crafton and Tyler Ankrum.

MORE: Race results

MORE: Reseeded standings for second playoff round

Enfinger said to FS1 of his mechanical issue: “It’s just a shame our season hopes come down to quality control on a spec part that we had nothing to do with. I definitely share our owner’s frustration with the parts.”

Sauter’s team tried to repair the issue and got him back on track, but he didn’t complete a full lap before more issues, ending his night.

“Just inferior engines, I guess, I’m not sure,” Sauter told FS1. “It’s just disappointing that our season comes down to that. This is a fresh engine, obviously something’s wrong with it. … It’s just a shame … but if something happens and it’s out of your control, what are you going to do?”

Finishing second through fifth were Ross Chastain, pole sitter Christian Eckes, Sheldon Creed and Todd Gilliland.

Sixth through 10th were Brennan Poole, Brett Moffitt, Ben Rhodes, Harrison Burton and Dylan Lupton.

Stage 1 winner: Ross Chastain.

Stage 2 winner: Ross Chastain (has now won five of the last eight stages in the last four races).

Who had a good race: Ross Chastain, who finished second and won both stages. … Third-place finisher Christian Eckes, just 18 years old, had another outstanding run in his sixth start this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Who had a bad race: In addition to Sauter, Crafton and Enfinger, John Hunter Nemechek had the worst showing as he was unable to start the truck and never took the green flag.

Next: The Truck Series is now off for the next month, returning for its fourth of seven playoff races on October 12 at Talladega Superspeedway.

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Christian Eckes earns Truck pole at Las Vegas

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Behind the wheel of the No. 51 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota Tundra, 18-year-old Christian Eckes grabbed the pole for tonight’s third race of the Gander Outdoors Truck Series playoffs at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

The Middletown, New York native covered the 1.5-mile oval with a best speed of 178.077 mph. It’s the second pole of the season for Eckes in just six Truck Series races in 2019 (he also was No. 1 at in the season opener at Daytona). Eckes also started from the pole via owner’s points earlier this season at Gateway due to weather cancelling qualifying.

“It’s awesome to be on the pole again,” Eckes told FS1. “The big thing is just to keep our Tundra under control. There have been a couple races this year where I thought we had a shot at winning but just haven’t been able to capitalize on it. I how we do that tonight and bring home a win.”

Click here for the Truck Series qualifying results.

Ross Chastain (178.012 mph) qualified second, followed by Todd Gilliland (177.907 mph), Brett Moffitt (177.585 mph) and Matt Crafton (177.375 mph).

Sixth through 10th were Sheldon Creed (177.305 mph), Austin Hill (177.165 mph), Grant Enfinger (177.125), Harrison Burton (176.939) and Johnny Sauter (176.916).

Tonight’s race (9 p.m. ET, FS1) will see the lowest-scoring two of the eight playoff contenders eliminated.

Three drivers failed to qualify: Cory Roper, Justin Johnson and Tyler Hill, who wrecked during his qualifying attempt, his truck suffering front end damage when it bottomed out in the infield grass.

Click here for the row-by-row starting lineup for tonight’s race.

There was one spectacular wreck during the session: Jesse Iwuji hit the inside wall coming off Turn 4 extremely hard, destroying the front end and left side. The 32-year-old Iwuji climbed out of his truck and walked to the ambulance to be taken to the infield care center to be checked out medically.

“I’m fine, just with the track being super hot and super slick, coming out of Turn 4 it just got away from me,” Iwuji told FS1. “I was trying to see if I could loop it back on the infield, but it wouldn’t come around to the right and we went into the inside pit wall.”

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Ross Chastain wins pole for today’s Truck race at Michigan

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BROOKLYN, Mich. — Ross Chastain will start from the pole for today’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Michigan International Speedway.

Chastain won the pole with a lap of 183.772 mph. Christian Eckes joins him on the front row with a lap of 183.734 mph. They are followed by Tyler Ankrum (183.435 mph), Todd Gilliland (183.267) and Harrison Burton (183.211).

This is the regular-season finale for the Trucks. Gilliland and Burton must win to qualify for the playoffs.

Daniel Sasnett crashed in the session. He was the only one to fail to qualify.

Truck Series practice report from Michigan

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Christian Eckes was fastest in the second of two Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice sessions Friday at Michigan International Speedway.

Eckes claimed the top spot with a speed of 184.233 mph.

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain (184.204 mph), Ben Rhodes (184.096), Anthony Alfredo (183.899) and Stewart Friesen (183.889).

Harrison Burton was 12th fastest and Todd Gilliland was 16th.

Burton recorded the most laps in the session with 39.

Eckes had the best 10-lap average at 180.980 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

First practice

Chastain was fastest, posting a top speed of 185.931 mph in the session and was the only driver to surpass 185 mph.

The top five was completed by defending race winner Brett Moffitt (184.649 mph), Rhodes (184.601), Tyler Dippel (184.200) and Jordan Anderson (183.899).

Gilliland was 10th on the speed chart and Burton was 12th. Both Kyle Bush Motorsports drivers will likely need to win this weekend to make the playoffs.

Rhodes, Eckes and Matt Crafton recorded the most laps in the session with 32.

Dippel had the best 10-lap average at 180.876 mph.

Click here for the speed chart.

Stewart Friesen wins Eldora Dirt Derby for first career Truck victory

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Stewart Friesen won Thursday night’s Eldora Dirt Derby in a two-lap shootout to score his first career Gander Outdoors Truck Series win.

Friesen, 36, claims the win in his 63rd career start and is now locked into the playoffs with one race left in the regular season. Two playoff spots remain up for grabs.

Friesen beat Sheldon Creed, Grant Enfinger, Mike Marlar and Todd Gilliland. Marlar was making his first career NASCAR start.

A native of Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario, Friesen had finished second six times before getting a win.

“Thank you to all the race fans that stuck with us, that pulled for us, everybody that came by the dirt modified hauler and said ‘Man, I thought this was the week,'” Friesen told FS1. “Today, this is the day and today this is the week.”

Friesen made his series debut in the 2016 Eldora race. He started from the pole in the 2017 race and led 93 laps before finishing second. He placed third last season.

“This was meant to be,” Friesen said. “We needed to get it done on the dirt. We missed the last two years. What a special event. … These guys have been down and out, down and out and they keep bustin’ their butts for me and fixing stuff and fixing stuff. Putting in such long hours. I can’t thank everybody enough.”

After starting first due to winning the first qualifying race, defending Eldora winner Chase Briscoe did not give up the lead until he pit during second stage break. He was then involved in two accidents before managing to get back to third in time for a restart with 12 laps to go. He then spun with nine laps to go to help bring out another caution.

Briscoe finished seventh.

Friesen assumed the lead from Briscoe when he and Matt Crafton pit during the stage break. Friesen elected to stay out and for it after his crew chief had told him to pit. Friesen led the final 57 laps.

The race saw a 14-truck crash on Lap 64 in Stage 2 that included Harrison Burton, Christian Eckes, Johnny Sauter, Austin Hill and Austin Wayne Self.

More: Race results, point standings

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chase Briscoe

WHAT’S NEXT: Corrigan Oil 200 at Michigan International Speedway at 1 p.m. ET Aug. 10 on FS1