Christian Eckes earns Truck pole at Las Vegas

Jerry Bonkowski
NBC Sports

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.

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“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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