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Christian Eckes wins Truck Series pole at Daytona

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Christian Eckes won the pole for tonight’s Gander Outdoors Truck Series season opener at Daytona.

Driving the No. 51 Toyota for Kyle Busch Motorsports, Eckes posted a top speed of 182.604 mph.

It is the first career pole for 18-year-old Eckes in his fifth career start.

“I felt way more confident in our car in the draft yesterday,” Eckes told Fox Sports 1. “I really wasn’t sure where we would qualify but here we are on the pole.”

He will be joined on the front row by David Gilliland (182.556 mph).

The top five is completed by Todd Gilliland (181.686), Harrison Burton (181.357) and Grant Enfinger (181.349).

Burton will start from the rear after an engine change was made on his No. 18 Toyota on Thursday.

The race is scheduled to begin at 7:30 p.m. ET on Fox Sports 1.

Click here for the starting lineup.

Harrison Burton wins ARCA race at Daytona

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Harrison Burton held off the field in a one-lap overtime shootout to win Saturday’s ARCA Menards Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

It was Burton’s first career start at Daytona.

“To win at Daytona is so special,” Burton said. “I wanted to do a crazy burnout but I wanted to take it in. It was a really humbling experience to win at Daytona.

“This is probably the biggest day in my life, in my racing career at least.”

The win is the third career ARCA victory for the son of NASCAR on NBC analyst Jeff Burton.

Harrison Burton, 18, will run the full Gander Outdoors Truck schedule this season for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Todd Gilliland finished second. Grant Quinlan placed third and was followed by pole-sitter Christian Eckes and Sean Corr.

Kyle Busch set for five Truck Series starts this season

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Kyle Busch Motorsports has announced the five Gander Outdoors Truck Series races that owner Kyle Busch is scheduled to compete in this season.

Busch will drive the No. 51 Toyota at Atlanta Motor Speedway (Feb. 23), Las Vegas Motor Speedway (March 1), Martinsville Speedway (March 23), Texas Motor Speedway (March 29) and Charlotte Motor Speedway (May 17).

Busch’s start at Martinsville will be his first Truck start there since 2016 and his second since 2011.

Busch, who is tied for the most carrer Truck Series wins with Ron Hornaday, Jr. with 51 victories, will be sponsored by Textron Aviation and its Cessna and Beechcraft brands.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver won twice last year in his five Truck starts, which is the maximum amount of starts a Cup driver with more than five years of experience can make in the Truck Series each year.

“The Truck Series is always a lot of fun for me as a driver,” Busch said in a press release. “As an owner, it gives me the opportunity to work alongside the young drivers that we have at KBM to get a better understanding of what they are experiencing.

“From year-to-year, rule changes affect the handling of the trucks. By continuing to be an active driver in the Truck Series I’m able to provide better feedback to our young drivers not only on the weekends I’m racing, but on the weekends when I’m coaching from atop the pit box as well.”

KBM’s full-time Truck Series drivers will be Todd Gilliland and Harrison Burton.

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Todd Gilliland set for full-time season with Kyle Busch Motorsports

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Todd Gilliland will return to Kyle Busch Motorsports’ in 2019 for his first full-time season in the Gander Outdoors Truck Series, the team announced Tuesday.

Gilliland, 18, will again drive the No. 4 Toyota after he made 19 starts in the series last year.

He joins Harrison Burton in driving full-time for KBM.

The son of former Cup driver David Gilliland missed four of the first six races last year due to age restrictions at certain tracks.

The two-time K&N Pro Series West champion placed 10th in the standings after earning four top fives and nine top 10s. His best finish was second at Gateway Motorsports Park.

He was one lap away from winning the playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway before he ran out of gas and gave up the lead to Justin Haley.

“I’m excited to be returning to the seat of the No. 4 Tundra at Kyle Busch Motorsports in 2019 and looking to build on the momentum that we had going at the end of 2018,” Gilliland said in a press release. “Last year we definitely had some high points and low points, so my goal is to be more consistent throughout the season.

“After being so close a couple times last year, I’m confident that I’ll be able to find victory lane this year and once that happens more wins will follow. I’m ready to reward everyone at JBL, Mobil 1, Toyota and TRD for their continued support.”

Gilliland will be sponsored by JBL, part of the HARMAN portfolio of audio brands, and Mobil 1.

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New NASCAR Cup team owners invest in minor league hockey team

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You might say that the newest NASCAR Cup team owner is now in a Rush.

Spire Sports + Entertainment, which recently purchased the Cup charter of former NASCAR championship team Furniture Row Racing, has branched out, taking a minority ownership share in the Rapid City (South Dakota) Rush of the 27-team East Coast Hockey League.

Spire co-founders Jeff Dickerson and T.J. Puchyr will become active minority partners in the Rush, hoping to bring the team back to past prominence.

“We aren’t going to be saviors here,” Spire co-founder Jeff Dickerson said in a press conference at the team’s Rushmore Plaza Civic Center home. “There’s no magic bullet. It’s going to take all of us to create the culture that builds excitement and value. The city loves the Rush and we hope to get it back to where it was.”

Rush majority owner, Rapid City businessman Scott Mueller, sees better days ahead for his club.

“The biggest thing is (Spire’s) sports industry knowledge,” Mueller said, according to the Rapid City Journal. “It’s about putting people in seats, selling advertising and they have a lot of knowledge on that. (Dickerson) sees so many venues, and I think he’s going to be involved in changes that are needed.

“We’ve taken some steps in the last few months. These are great days for us, and we’re really excited about our future.”

The Rush is mired in sixth place in the ECHL’s seven-team Mountain Division.

In addition to purchasing Furniture Row Racing’s charter, Spire represents several race car drivers including NASCAR’s Kyle Larson, Landon Cassill, Ross Chastain, Justin Haley, Todd Gilliland, Garrett Smithley and Vinnie Miller and IndyCar’s James Hinchcliffe.

Spire isn’t the only NASCAR Cup team owner involved in other sports. Roush Fenway Racing’s co-owner John Henry owns Major League Baseball’s Boston Red Sox and the Liverpool Football Club of soccer’s Premier League, while Chip Ganassi previously was a minority owner in MLB’s Pittsburgh Pirates. Felix Sabates, who also holds a minority ownership stake in Chip Ganassi Racing, is also a minority owner of the NBA’s Charlotte Hornets.

“We have been looking for several years to find something in minor league sports and see if what we do in motorsports translates to this space,” Puchyr said, according to The Journal. “Our due diligence indicates that it does.”

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