After falling short to his teammate Michael Self last time on a dirt track, Christian Eckes broke through and won the Southern Illinois 100 for the first time in his career. The Venturini Motorsports driver took the lead on lap 10 and never looked back, as Eckes led 91 laps en route to victory.
“I don’t know if you can call me a dirt track expert just yet,” Eckes laughed in victory lane. “I tried to drive Springfield and DuQuoin like dirt tracks last year and burned everything off the car I could. We tried some new things here tonight and I drove the track more like a pavement track and it really paid off.”
Dirt track ace Ken Schrader was back in the field for the first time since Gateway last year. Schrader qualified his No. 52 Federated Auto Parts Toyota on the pole with a time 33.62 seconds. By qualifying first, Schrader set a new record in the ARCA Menards Series by being the oldest pole winner in ARCA. It was Schrader’s 22nd of his ARCA career.
Though, Schrader was out front for only the first lap as he struggled to get back to the front, especially the top five. On lap 2, the No. 16 of Kelly Kovski took the lead for a short while and led for eight laps, before Eckes took the top spot on lap 10.
Only two cautions slowed the pace in the Southern Illinois 100. One on lap 33 for debris on the back stretch and the final caution on lap 46 also for debris.
Despite the cautions, nothing could stop the Middletown, New York native who had a flying pace and never let the lead up. Eckes went on to take his third win of the season, thus getting him back into the title fight.
Ecke’s other teammate and dirt track standout, Logan Seavey wound up second after starting 10th in the race he won last year. Seavey was disappointed with the runner up finish.
“It stinks coming back here and finishing second,” Seavey said. “We worked our way to the front and caught a good break in traffic to get past Michael but we didn’t quite have enough to close in on Christian.”
Rounding out the top three finishers was Chad Bryant Racing’s No. 22 driver Corey Heim. Heim placed third in his first time at the fairgrounds in DuQuoin.
It’s a little bittersweet,” Heim said. “We should have finished no lower than third at Springfield but ended up seventh. We had a great night here today but I would have liked to have started a little closer to the front. If we qualified a little better we wouldn’t have had to have worked so hard to get to the front and might have had a shot at running Christian down for the win.”
Michael Self, Kovski, Riley Herbst, Travis Braden, Schrader, Bret Holmes and Ryan Unzicker rounded out the top-10 finishers in the Southern Illinois 100.
There were two cautions for 12 laps and three leaders among two lead changes.
With the win, Eckes sits second in the points just 105 points behind his Venturini Motorsports teammate Self.
Up Next: The ARCA Menards Series takes a short break before returning on-track at the short-track at Salem on Saturday Sept 14.
- Christian Eckes, led 91 laps
- Logan Seavey
- Corey Heim
- Michael Self
- Kelly Kovski, led eight laps
- Riley Herbst
- Travis Braden
- Ken Schrader, led one lap
- Bret Holmes
- Ryan Unzicker
- Joe Graf Jr, One lap down
- Bobby Gerhart, Four laps down
- Tommy Vigh Jr, Four laps down
- Tim Richmond, Seven laps down
- Carson Hocevar, OUT, Overheating
- Brad Smith, OUT, Overheating
- Tyler Speer, OUT, Overheating
- Will Kimmel, OUT, Overheating
- Dick Doheny, OUT, Handling
- Wayne Peterson, OUT, Suspension