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Christian Eckes hospitalized for small tear in trachea, misses ARCA race

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ARCA Menards Series driver Christian Eckes remains in the hospital two days after he was admitted for a small esophageal tear in his trachea, a result of complications due to food poisoning, Venturini Motorsports announced Monday.

Eckes, 18, was forced to withdraw from Sunday’s ARCA race at Salem Speedway in Salem, Indiana, and he continues to receive treatments for a bacterial infection.

Eckes entered the Salem weekend as the series points leader, but he is now eighth, 105 points behind Travis Braden

Eckes was taken to the hospital after he became ill following Saturday’s track activity. He will return to his racing duties once he’s released from doctor’s care.

A native of Middletown, New York, Eckes has five Gander Outdoors Racing Series starts since last year with Kyle Busch Motorsports. He has a best finish of eighth at Iowa.

His only start this year was at Daytona where he won the pole and finished 22nd after a crash.

He’s scheduled to make six more starts in the No. 51 Toyota this season: Gateway (June 22), Pocono (July 27), Michigan (Aug. 10), Las Vegas (Sept. 13), Martinsville (Oct. 26) and Miami (Nov. 15).

Kyle Busch wins Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway

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Kyle Busch won Friday night’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, giving him wins in the last four Truck Series races.

Busch held off Stewart Friesen over the last 20 laps to score the win as Friesen settled for his fifth runner-up finish in 53 starts.

Busch has now won four of the season’s first five races. He has won his last five Truck Series starts and six of his last eight starts. He finished second in the other two.

The top five was completed by Johnny Sauter, Grant Enfinger and Matt Crafton.

Busch led 97 of the race’s 147 laps.

Defending series champion Brett Moffitt led 33 laps but finished 19th. He suffered damaged late after contact with Ben Rhodes while racing among the leaders.

“The 24 (Moffitt) was who I was really worried about,” Busch told Fox Sports 1. “(Friesen) put up a good fight. About got to me there a couple of times. Fortunately, I was able to hold out.”

Click here for race results

Click here for points report

STAGE 1 WINNER: Grant Enfinger

STAGE 2 WINNER: Kyle Busch

WHAT’S NEXT: The Truck Series is off until May 3 at Dover International Speedway

 

Grant Enfinger wins pole for Truck Series race in Texas

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Grant Enfinger won the pole for tonight’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Texas Motor Speedway.

It is Enfinger’s fourth pole in 65 career starts and his first this year. He claimed the top spot with a speed of 187.350 mph.

He will be joined on the front row by Brett Moffitt (187.143 mph).

The top five is completed by Sheldon Creed, Kyle Busch and Austin Hill.

The top 10 is filled by Tyler Ankrum, Johnny Sauter, Ben Rhodes, Stewart Friesen and Harrison Burton.

The truck race is scheduled to start at 9 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1

Click here for the starting lineup.

 

Truck Series practice report from Texas Motor Speedway

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Austin Hill posted a top speed of 185.816 mph in the final Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice at Texas Motor Speedway.

Hill recorded 28 laps around 1.5-mile track. He also had the best 10-lap average at 182.020 mph.

The top five was completed by Brett Moffitt (185.778 mph), Brennan Poole (185.452), Stewart Friesen (185.408) and Todd Gilliland (185.338).

Kyle Busch was sixth fastest.

 

Click here for the speed chart.

First practice

Johnny Sauter was fastest in the first practice session

Sauter posted a top speed of 185.580 mph. He recorded 16 laps in the session.

He was followed in the top five by his ThorSport Racing teammates Grant Enfinger (185.376 mph) and Ben Rhodes (184.489).

The top five was completed by Busch (183.723) and Moffitt (183.082).

Greg Biffle, who will race for Kyle Busch Motorsports in the June 7 Truck race at Texas, made 14 laps in the session in Busch’s No. 51 truck. His fastest lap was 181.616 mph, which was good for P13 before he was replaced by Busch.

The session was stopped once for a fire in the No. 1 truck of Bayley Currey. Currey was able to exit his truck.

Click here for the speed chart.

 

Questions and answers about the 2020 Cup schedule

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NASCAR’s 2020 Cup schedule created much for fans and competitors to discuss Tuesday.

A new championship race. A doubleheader weekend. Iconic tracks changing dates and three playoff cutoff races that could be brutal.

Here are answers to some of the questions from the schedule reveal.

Why is the championship race moving from Homestead-Miami Speedway to ISM Raceway?

Homestead-Miami Speedway provides arguably the best racing at a 1.5-mile track. Leaving it as the title race could leave a void.

ISM Raceway is a tight 1-mile track where passing can be difficult — although Kyle Larson showed earlier this month that one can gain several spots on a restart if they’re willing to use the high line after a restart.

So why the move indeed?

“Going to the same tracks year in and year out could potentially favor certain drivers,” said Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s chief racing development officer, in a conference call with the media. “We wanted to take a look if we had the opportunity to go to another venue, what would that be.”

It also didn’t hurt that Ford’s contract as the sponsor of the championship weekend in Miami ends after this season, making a move easier.

And International Speedway Corp. spent about $180 million renovating ISM Raceway. When you have something shiny and new, you want to show it off. The championship race is one of the best chances to do so.

How long will the championship race be at ISM Raceway?

O’Donnell said: “I think our hope would be to stay there for a little while. I think with any venue you want to see it have a chance and grow a little bit and see how it works. … This wasn’t a decision we said, ‘hey let’s just go there for a year and rotate it. Our intention is to stay there a few years.”

Mike Helton, NASCAR vice chairman, said at ISM Raceway that “we are only talking about 2020 right now. What the future holds, we’ll see.”

Joey Logano voiced his desire for moving the title race around, saying on the NASCAR.com show after the schedule was revealed: “I kind of like that (the title race) has moved. I think it we should move it every year like the Super Bowl.”

Who does this move favor if they make it to the championship race?

Kyle Busch. He has won the past two races there and has an average finish of 2.9 there since 2016. If NASCAR keeps the title race at ISM Raceway for a few years, Busch could be the one who benefits the most. He has made it to the championship finale each of the past four years.

Kevin Harvick has a track-record nine wins there but he will be 44 next year when the finale is there, so he will likely have few opportunities to turn that success into another title.

Of course, the key is making it to the championship race.

How much more difficult did it get to advance in the playoffs?

It could be significantly harder. The cutoff races in next year’s playoffs will be Bristol (round one), Charlotte Roval (round two) and Martinsville (round three).

NASCAR has two shorts tracks and the Roval as cutoff races. That makes it easier for drivers to beat and bang should they need to do so for the win to advance or to gain a position and score enough points to advance. When drivers make contact, anything can happen.

Why a doubleheader at Pocono?

O’Donnell said that NBC had expressed interest in such a concept. The Pocono races will be held during the portion of the season NBC and NBCSN broadcast the races.

O’Donnell said NASCAR talked to “a number” of tracks about it and Pocono was willing to do it.

What about those races?

Details are to be worked out. O’Donnell noted that the Xfinity and Truck series will also be there with a plan of a Truck/Cup doubleheader on Saturday (June 27) and Xfinity/Cup doubleheader on Sunday (June 28). Oh, ARCA also is expected to be there, so there will be a lot of racing crammed into the weekend. Let’s hope for good weather.

“I think it’s neat, to see two back-to-back races at Pocono,” Ryan Blaney said on the NASCAR.com show. “That’s going to be really exciting.”

Why did Daytona move off its traditional spot of being on or near July 4 to being the regular-season finale on Aug. 29?

O’Donnell said those in the sport wanted to make it the regular-season finale, adding drama to the last race.

Indianapolis Motor Speedway takes over Daytona’s date. But what about the heat there?

IMS officials noted the cooler temperatures for the fans when the track’s date switched from July to September last year.

As for the issue about heat, O’Donnell said: “I think it’s hot in Daytona on July 4th. A bit of a myth to say it’s hot in a certain market.”

Why is the Clash still on its own weekend a week before the Daytona 500 and why is the All-Star Race still on a weekend of its own?

O’Donnell said that NBC, which broadcasts the last 20 races of the season, wanted to end on Veteran’s Day weekend in November. With the back-to-back off weekends in August because of NBC’s airing of the Summer Olympics, it didn’t make sense to truncate the Daytona or All Star/Coca-Cola 600 schedule.

When are the 2020 Xfinity and Gander Outdoors Truck schedules coming out?

O’Donnell said he hoped those could be released in the next week or so.

What about the 2021 schedule?

O’Donnell said: “I think some of the moves were made (this year) thinking ahead. We still have a lot to look at for 2021.”

The five-year sanctioning agreements NASCAR has with tracks ends after the 2020 season. That means NASCAR could change what tracks are on the schedule.

What about the future of the All-Star Race?

O’Donnell was asked if that event could be put on a rotating basis at some point. He said: “If we’re going to do that, we need to make sure it works for both Charlotte and a potential new venue.  That is something we’ve had discussions on. … Still a little premature for 2021.”

 

2020 NASCAR Cup Schedule

DATE

RACE/TRACK

Sunday, Feb. 9

The Clash

Thursday, Feb. 13

Duel at Daytona

Sunday, Feb. 16

Daytona 500

Sunday, Feb. 23

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sunday, March 1

Auto Club Speedway

Sunday, March 8

ISM Raceway

Sunday, March 15

Atlanta Motor Speedway

Sunday, March 22

Homestead-Miami Speedway

Sunday, March 29

Texas Motor Speedway

Sunday, April 5

Bristol Motor Speedway

Sunday, April 19

Richmond Raceway

Sunday, April 26

Talladega Superspeedway

Sunday, May 3

Dover International Speedway

Saturday, May 9

Martinsville Speedway

Saturday, May 16

All-Star Race, Charlotte

Sunday, May 24

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sunday, May 31

Kansas Speedway

Sunday, June 7

Michigan International Speedway

Sunday, June 14

Sonoma Raceway

Sunday, June 21

Chicagoland Speedway

Saturday, June 27

Pocono Raceway

Sunday June 28

Pocono Raceway

Sunday July 5

Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Saturday July 11

Kentucky Speedway

Sunday, July 19

New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Sunday, Aug. 9

Michigan International Speedway

Sunday, Aug. 16

Watkins Glen International

Sunday, Aug. 23

Dover International Speedway

Saturday, Aug. 29

Daytona International Speedway

PLAYOFFS BEGIN

Sunday, Sept. 6

Darlington Raceway

Saturday, Sept. 12

Richmond Raceway

Saturday, Sept. 19

Bristol Motor Speedway

Sunday, Sept. 27

Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Sunday, Oct. 4

Talladega Superspeedway

Sunday, Oct. 11

Charlotte Motor Speedway

Sunday, Oct. 18

Kansas Speedway

Sunday, Oct. 25

Texas Motor Speedway

Sunday, Nov. 1

Martinsville Speedway

Sunday, Nov. 8

ISM Raceway

Jerry Bonkowski contributed to this report