Jesse Iwuji

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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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Justin Haley wins Truck Series playoff opener in overtime

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Justin Haley took advantage of a last turn incident involving teammates Todd Gilliland and Noah Gragson to win Sunday’s Truck Series playoff opener at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in overtime.

Haley took the lead coming to the checkered flag after Gragson, running in second, caught Gilliland and made contact as he tried to make the pass. The contact sent both trucks around.

Haley, one of the eight playoff drivers, claimed his second win of the season.

“That was amazing,” Haley told Fox Sports 1. “I knew going in there Gragson was probably going to do something not the smartest. That was going to line us up pretty good. … I saw it coming and I knew we were in the catbird’s seat.”

The top five was completed John Hunter Nemechek, Brett Moffitt, Timothy Peters and Matt Crafton.

Gragson, a playoff driver, finished ninth. Gilliland placed 11th.

Gilliland told FS1 he expected the contact from Gragson.

“Should never have let him get to me,” Gilliland said. “Should have just given him the inside, maybe let him wreck himself, I don’t know. He’s done that to me on like five or six road courses. It sucks. We had the fastest truck and we didn’t win again. I’m going to have to talk to him for sure.”

Gilliland, in his rookie year, added: “I’d go fight him right now, but I can’t. I just need to get my emotions in check and go talk to him. But I’m extremely mad.”

Gragson took the blame for the incident, saying “That one’s on me.”

“I wasn’t trying to take him out,” Gragson told FS1. “Was expecting him just to give me a little bit more room on the bottom. It just wasn’t there. Wasn’t meant to be.”

Gragson also said: “I apologize to Todd, I apologize to the 4 team, apologize to everyone at Kyle Busch Motorsports. We’re in the playoffs and I’m trying to get a win. I was squirting the throttle right there in-between (Turns) 9 and 10. … Just wasn’t quite there. Just unfortunate. That one’s on me.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Noah Gragson

STAGE 2 WINNER: Noah Gragson

MORE: Race results, point standings

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Timothy Peters scored a top five in relief of Spencer Gallagher … Brett Moffitt placed third after starting the day in 17th. … Matt Crafton earned his first top five in four races … Austin Hill placed eight for his fourth top 10 of the year.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Austin Wayne Self brought out the final two cautions of the race for incidents. He finished 21st … Roger Reuse placed 27th after wrecking out on Lap 35.

NOTABLE: Jesse Iwuji placed 25th, two laps down in his series debut.

WHAT’S NEXT: World of Westgate 200 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway at 9 p.m. ET on Sept. 14 on Fox Sports 1

Preliminary entry lists for Road America, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

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The Cup Series is enjoying its final off-week of the 2018 season. That leaves the Xfinity Series and Camping World Truck Series to enjoy the spotlight.

Both series will be on their own, competing on different road courses. Xfinity teams return to Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. The Truck Series travels to Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, to race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Here are the entry lists for both races.

Xfinity – Johnsonville 180 (3 p.m. ET on Saturday on NBCSN)

There are 41 entries for the race, including Hall of Famer Bill Elliott, who will drive GMS Racing’s No. 23 Chevrolet in his first NASCAR start since 2012.

James Davison is entered in Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18 Toyota, making his second consecutive start for the team at Road America.

IndyCar driver Conor Daly will attempt to make his NASCAR debut in Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 6 Ford.

Last year, Jeremy Clements was the surprise upset, scoring his first career NASCAR win.

Click here for the entry list.

Trucks – Silverado 250

There are 31 entries for the race.

Alex Tagliani is entered in Young’s Motorsports’ No. 12 Chevrolet.

Jesse Iwuji will make his national NASCAR series debut in Reaume Brothers Racing’s No. 34 Chevrolet.

Last year, Austin Cindric won his first career NASCAR race after spinning Kaz Grala on the last lap.

Click here for the entry list.

NASCAR America with Dale Earnhardt Jr. airs from 5 – 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN

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Today’s episode of NASCAR America airs from 5- 6 p.m. ET and looks at the big storylines in the sport this week.

Marty Snider hosts with Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty from NBC Charlotte. Dale Earnhardt Jr. joins them from New York City.

•   Dale Jr. is making the rounds in New York City ahead of his first race from the booth at Chicagoland, we will catch up to where he ended up throughout the day.

•   Get involved in the second installment of “beat the broadcasters” as the NBC Fantasy League is about to get started with just 10 races left to the playoffs.

•  Rutledge Wood with an “Uncomfortable Interview” discussing Pineapple pizza on National Pineapple day.

•  An Incredible story of K&N Driver and Navy Officer Jesse Iwuji with his heroic story of saving a family from a burning car.

If can’t catch today’s show on TV, watch it online at http:/nascarstream.nbcsports.com. If you plan to stream the show on your laptop or portable device, be sure to have your username and password from your cable/satellite/telco provider handy so your subscription can be verified.

Once you enter that information, you’ll have access to the stream.

Click here at 5 p.m. ET to watch live via the stream.

Water company to sponsor Navy officer/K&N racer Jesse Iwuji

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As a Lieutenant and Surface Warfare Officer in the U.S. Navy, Jesse Iwuji is used to being around water every day.

Iwuji is also a second-year driver in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. And now he’ll be sponsored for the rest of the season by a company that, much like the Navy, specializes in water.

The Perfect Hydration water brand has stepped up to back Iwuji and his Patriot Racing team.

MORE: Ex-NFL star Shawne Merriman, racer Jesse Iwuji team up in NASCAR K&N effort.

After the first eight races of the 14-race K&N Pro Series West Series, Iwuji sits 15th.

He’s hoping the six-race sponsorship will help improve his performance to finish as well as he did in his K&N rookie campaign last season (10th place) – or better.

Iwuji’s best finishes this season are a pair of back-to-back 14th-place showings He also has three other top-20 outings.

“This season so far has been a great test of the durability of our team” Iwui said in a media release. “We’ve managed to bring home clean racecars which allows us to spend more time on trying to improve the cars and the way we race other teams this year in the West.”

Iwuji races this weekend at Iowa Speedway, the only time the K&N Pro Series East and West race on the same track during the season.

Iwuji is 12 points out of 12th place and 55 points out of 10th.

“I’ve raced these tracks, I’m here to compete, and I’m ready to maximize the capabilities of our team,” Iwuji said.

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