Ross Chastain

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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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Weekend schedule for NASCAR at Las Vegas

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Playoffs will be the buzzword this weekend as NASCAR visits Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

On Friday night, the Gander Outdoors Truck Series contests the final race of its opening round, meaning two drivers will be eliminated.

Saturday marks the final race of the Xfinity Series regular season prior to the start of its playoffs next week in Richmond.

And the 10-race Cup playoffs kick off with Sunday’s race at the 1.5-mile speedway (on NBCSN).

There will be two Xfinity and two Cup practices on Friday. The Truck Series has a one-day show with one practice, qualifying and a 134-lap race under the lights, starting at 9 p.m. ET. Wunderground.com predicts a high of 99 degrees Friday with 0% percent of precipitation. Grant Enfinger won last year’s race.

On Saturday, Cup and Xfinity have qualifying sessions for their respective races. The 200-lap Xfinity Series race will start at 7:30 p.m. ET (on NBCSN). Wunderground.com predicts a high of 102 degrees with 0% percent of precipitation. Ross Chastain won last year’s race.

And then the main event, the 267-lap Cup playoff opener, takes place Sunday, with the green flag set to drop at 7 p.m. ET. Wunderground.com predicts a temperature of 103 degrees with 0% percent of precipitation. Brad Keselowski won last year’s race, while teammate Joey Logano won there in March.

Here is this weekend’s schedule:

(All times Eastern)

Thursday, Sept. 12

3 – 8 p.m. – Truck garage open

Friday, Sept. 13

10 a.m. – Truck garage open

11:05 – 11:55 a.m. – Truck final practice (no TV or radio)

12:30 – 9:30 p.m. – Xfinity garage open

1:30 – 11 p.m. – Cup garage open

3:35 – 4:25 p.m. – Xfinity practice (NBCSN)

4:35 – 5:25 p.m. – Cup practice (NBCSN)

5:35 p.m. – Truck qualifying impound (single vehicle/one lap all positions) (FS1)

6:35 – 7:25 p.m. – Xfinity final practice (NBCSN)

7:15 p.m. – Truck driver/crew chief meeting

7:30 – 8:20 p.m. – Final Cup practice (NBCSN)

8:30 p.m. – Truck driver introductions

9 p.m. – Truck Series race (Stages 30/60/134 laps = 201 miles) (FS1/Motor Racing Network/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Saturday, Sept. 14

11 a.m. – Xfinity garage open

11:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. – Cup garage open

2:35 p.m. – Xfinity qualifying impound (single vehicle/one lap all positions) (NBCSN)

3:45 p.m. – Xfinity driver/crew chief meeting

4:05 p.m. – Cup qualifying impound (single vehicle/one lap all positions) (NBCSN/Performance Racing Network)

7 p.m. – Xfinity driver introductions

7:30 p.m. – Xfinity race (Stages 45/90/200 laps = 300 miles) (NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

Sunday, Sept. 15

3 p.m. – Cup garage open

5 p.m. – Cup driver/crew chief meeting

6:20 p.m. – Cup driver introductions

7 p.m. – Cup race (Stages 80/160/267 laps = 400.5 miles) (NBCSN/PRN/SiriusXM NASCAR Radio)

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Truck Series practice report from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park

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Brett Moffitt was fastest in final practice for Sunday’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

The defending series champion posted a top speed of 111.295 mph around the road course.

The top five was completed by Austin Hill (110.580 mph), Johnny Sauter (110.018), Tyler Ankrum (109.354) and Todd Gilliland (109.242).

Sauter recorded the most laps in the session with 19.

Click here for the practice report.

Sheldon Creed and Jordan Anderson wrecked in the middle of the session. Creed will go to a backup truck. Anderson does not have a backup.

First practice

Todd Gilliland was fastest in the session, posting a top speed of 111.187 mph and leading a Kyle Busch Motorsports sweep of the top three spots.

He was followed by Harrison Burton (110.408 mph) and Alex Tagliani (110.325).

The top five was completed by Ross Chastain (110.002) and Austin Hill (109.720).

Sheldon Creed recorded the most laps in the session with 15.

Click here for the practice report.

Playoff driver and Canada Stewart Friesen wrecked during the session and will go to a backup truck.

Truck Series practice report from Bristol Motor Speedway

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BRISTOL, Tenn. – Austin Hill, who won last weekend’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Michigan, posted the fastest lap in Thursday’s final practice session at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Hill led the way with a lap of 126.328 mph. He was followed by Sam Mayer (126.095 mph), reigning series champion  Brett Moffitt (125.789), Stewart Friesen (125.617) and Johnny Sauter (125.469).

Click here for final practice results

Moffitt had the best average over 10 consecutive laps at 122.594 mph. He was followed by Friesen (122.532 mph) and Matt Crafton (122.407).

Harrison Burton ran the most laps in the session at 73. He ranked ninth on the speed chart with a top lap of 125.060 mph.

OPENING PRACTICE

Tyler Ankrum was fastest in the first of two Gander Outdoors Truck Series practice sessions Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway.

Ankrum, one of the eight Truck Series playoff drivers, posted a top speed of 126.420 mph around the half-mile track.

He was followed by Ross Chastain (125.831 mph), Matt Crafton (125.354), Raphael Lessard (125.036) and Brett Moffitt (124.930).

Sheldon Creed, who was eighth on the speed chart, recorded the most laps with 78. He also had the best 10-lap average at 123.983 mph.

The final Truck practice is scheduled for 11:05 – 11:55 a.m ET.

Click here for the practice report.

CarShield to sponsor Ross Chastain throughout Truck playoffs

Photo: Niece Motorsports
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Ross Chastain will kick off his bid for the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series championship this week with a familiar partner.

CarShield announced Tuesday that it will sponsor Chastain and the No. 45 Niece Motorsports team for the seven-race Truck Series playoffs, starting with Thursday night’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“I’m so pumped to have the folks at CarShield back on board the No. 45 Truck again, especially as we look to make a championship run,” Chastain said in a media release.

CarShield sponsored Chastain earlier this year on June 22 when he won at Worldwide Technology Raceway at Gateway, near St. Louis, Missouri.

“They brought us good luck at Gateway, and I’m hopeful we can make that magic happen again,” said Chastain, a Florida watermelon farmer when he’s not racing. “It means the world to me to have their support.”

Nick Hamilton, Co-Founder and Principal at CarShield, said in a release: “Seeing him pull into victory lane with the CarShield truck was the best. Ross knows how to have fun while always competing at the highest level. We do the same thing at CarShield. That’s why we made the decision to become the primary sponsor for the rest of this season.  Hopefully, our partnership will help push him to keep smashing those watermelons and win the championship this season.”

Chastain earned his first Truck Series win of the season in May at Kansas Speedway. A few weeks later, he announced he had changed his points declaration and would seek to make the Truck Series playoffs, even though he failed to earn points in the first eight races. To qualify for the playoffs, he had to win a race and finish the regular season in the top-20 in driver points.

Since then, Chastain earned his win at Gateway, another triumph at Pocono along with two other top-10 finishes. Chastain’s three wins is the most by any Truck Series regular this season.

Chastain enters the eight-driver playoffs ranked fifth.

“We are proud and honored to have CarShield join the team again,” team owner Al Niece said in a media release. “I think Ross and this team have really shown what they are capable of, and we are excited that CarShield has recognized that potential and wants to help this team chase a championship.”

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