Square of its kind … Eckes leads Thorsport to Vegas victory

LAS VEGAS (AP) – Rookie Christian Eckes stood up to teammate Ben Rhodes and crossed the finish line under a warning flag for his first career victory in the NASCAR Trucks Series at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday night.

Besides Eckes and Rhodes, their Thorsport Racing teammates Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter finished third and fourth respectively.

The sweep marked the first time in the history of the truck series that the top four places represented the same team.

With his second place, Rhodes rose to first place to lead the playoffs. John Hunter Nemechek, pole winner on Friday, won Stage 1 on lap 30, scoring his 11th stage win of the season, his best streak.

“Dude, that’s big,” said Eckes, an emotional 20-year-old of Greenville, New York, who was running part-time. “It has been a difficult year since last November. I hope I have proven that I can still do it.

Racing for Kyle Busch Motorsports last year, Eckes saw his playoff hopes evaporate in a last-lap crash at Talladega Speedway last October.

Friday’s race resumed with just four laps to go after a warning at the end of the race. Todd Gilliland – who finished fifth – had the lead in the restart but lost it in the first round under the green.

“I couldn’t be more proud of Thorsport Racing; super proud of Christian Eckes, ”said Rhodes. Eckes was the beneficiary of a Rhodes shove coming off the last green.

The Round of 8 continues on October 2 at the Talladega Superspeedway with the 2021 Chevrolet Silverado 250.

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More AP auto races: https://apnews.com/apf-AutoRacing and https://twitter.com/AP

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