Christian Eckes overcame a season of obstacles – including missing a race – to win the 2019 ARCA Menards Series championship.
A final obstacle occurred prior to Friday night’s race at Kansas Speedway, when his Venturini Motorsports No. 15 team had to change engines which meant Eckes would have start from the rear of the field.
His only challenger for the series title, teammate Michael Self, took early command of the race and led the most laps, but Eckes eventually charged to the lead and held Self off by 1.912 seconds at the finish.
“It’s so special, it’s just so special,” said Eckes, a Toyota Racing Development driver. “I wasn’t really nervous after qualifying. I was just going to do my deal because I knew we had a fast race car.
“We got the lead there and we drove away. Man, this is awesome. I can’t thank everyone enough. I really don’t know what to say.
“This year has been kind of a roller coaster but it ended on a high and that’s all that matters.”
The win is Eckes’ fourth of the season and he ends the year with 13 top-five and 17 top-10 finishes in 19 starts – one less than Self. Eckes, 18, missed the Salem race because of illness, which sent him significantly behind in the points standings.
Eckes is expected to compete fulltime in the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series next season with Kyle Busch Motorsports. He’s made six starts with the team so far this year with a best finish of third at Las Vegas.
Ty Majeski finished third in the race, Bret Holmes was fourth and Travis Braden rounded out the top-five.
Venturini also claimed the series’ owner title with its No. 20 team which used a variety of drivers throughout the season.