Venturini Motorsports’ Gateway Recap: Near Miss at Win for Eckes, Breidinger Shows Competitiveness in Second Series Start, Decker Rebounds After Getting Wrecked
Concord, NC (June 23, 2018) – Christian Eckes led the way for Venturini Motorsports’ trio of drivers, finishing fourth in Friday night’s Papa Nicholas Coffee 150 at Gateway Motorsports Park during his ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards return.
Teammates Toni Breidinger finished 12th and Natalie Decker salvaged a top-15 finish after getting spun out nearing the midway point of ARCA’s 10th event of the season.
After starting on the outside pole, Christian Eckes, led 35-laps and battled for the top spot all evening with eventual race winner Sheldon Creed. The two Toyota drivers swapped lead changes six times during the 120-lap event.
Eckes, leading late with his eyes focused on earning his second career victory, was moved up the track and out of the groove by Creed on lap-80. Unable to recover, the 17-year old Eckes regained his composure and settled for his second top-5 of the season.
“It’s disappointing,” said Eckes during his post race interview with FOX Sports reporter, Dillon Welch. “We had a great JBL Toyota tonight. I’m really not sure what happened down on turns one and two. But it’s really unfortunate with the car we had. I’m really proud of this team.”
Eckes will get another chance at Gateway glory tonight when he returns to the track behind the wheel of his No.46 Mobil 1 Tundra when he makes his second career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series start with Kyle Busch Motorsports.
California native, Toni Breidinger, driver of VMS’ No.20 Renton Coil Spring – Flexzilla Toyota Camry, nearly missed out on her second consecutive top-10, finished 12th in just her second ARCA start.
Team owner, Billy Venturini, commented after Breidinger’s solid run under the lights.
“Shout out to Toni (Breidinger) on a solid performance tonight,” said Venturini. “She’s got very little big car experience and yet she’s already competitive. Lots to build on. I’m looking forward to watching her at Chicago next week.”
Set to celebrate her 21st birthday on Monday, Natalie Decker’s solid Gateway performance was spoiled after being tagged and sent hard into the outside wall by a competitor entering turn one on lap-65.
Sustaining heavy right side damage to her No.25 N29 Capital Partners – YAMAHA Power Products Toyota, Decker’s pit crew went to work with repairs, allowing the rookie driver to finish. “I’m not happy at all,” said Decker about the on-track incident. “I get it. It’s racing. But when you get wrecked with a good car like we had tonight it’s not a good feeling. We’ll be back – on to Chicago.”
The next race for the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards is the SCOTT 150 at Chicagoland Speedway on Thursday June 28. Practice will start on Thursday at 3 pm ET/2 pm CT, with General Tire Pole Qualifying scheduled for 6:35 pm ET/5:35 pm CT. The green flag will fly over round 11 of the 2018 season at 9 pm ET/8 pm CT; the race will be televised live on FS1.