Championship contender Christian Eckes (No. 15 JBL Audio/Illinois Truck & Equipment Toyota) scored his third ARCA Menards Series victory of the season and pulled within 70-points of teammate Michael Self for the series title with a dominant performance in the Southern Illinois 100 on the Magic Mile at the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds.
Eckes’ victory, his sixth of his career sets a new season high for his Venturini Motorsports team which has now won 12 races in 2019 and 64 all-time in ARCA competition.
Eckes started outside General Tire Pole Award winner Ken Schrader and slipped past third-place starter Kelly Kovski on lap 10 to take the lead and led the rest of the way to take his second career ARCA Menard Series win on dirt. He also won at Springfield in 2018.
“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.”
Eckes finished in 0.443 seconds in front of his Venturini Motorsports teammate, and defending race winner, Logan Seavey (No. 20 Craftsman Toyota). Seavey started tenth and methodically worked his way towards the front of the field. He utilized lap traffic to work past his other Venturini Motorsports teammate Michael Self (No. 25 Sinclair Oil Toyota) to take over second with 28 laps to go. From there Seavey was able to stay within sight of Eckes but he couldn’t close in enough to seriously challenge.
“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.”
Current ARCA series points leader Michael Self qualified fifth and finished fourth in Saturday night’s feature under the lights at DuQuoin. Despite recording another solid top-5 finish Self gave up 35 points to Eckes in the hunt for the ARCA Menards Series Championship.
“The lapped cars were tough tonight,” Self said. “I get you want to race hard and stay on the lead lap but you also need to respect the leaders of the race. They didn’t give a lot of room out there for sure. We lost a position late in the race to lapped car. Maybe I could have been a little more aggressive, I don’t know.”
Self and Eckes beginning to go back and forth with victories have now combined to win the last three series races and seven combined on the season. Eckes, winning at Pocono Raceway (July) and now at DuQuoin while Self won two weeks ago at Springfield.
The race was only slowed twice by cautions, each time for debris. That allowed Eckes to set a record speed on his way to the victory, 105.798 miles per hour.
The ARCA Menards Series returns to action on Saturday September 14 in the Kentuckiana Ford Dealers Fall Classic 200 at Salem Speedway. Practice is set for 2:30 pm ET with General Tire Pole Qualifying to follow at 4 pm ET. The 200-lap main event will close the night at 7:15 pm ET. The race will be televised live flag-to-flag on MAVTV.