CONCORD, N.C. — official team release — Christian Eckes Racing photo —
As Venturini Motorsports (VMS) continues to set their driver roster for the 2016 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards the team announced today the addition of 15-year old, Christian Eckes for limited short track action during the upcoming season.
Eckes, a native of Middletown, NY, joins VMS on the heels of last week’s announcement that he’ll be driving full-time in the CARS Tour for JR Motorsport’s (JRM) Late Model Program.
Eckes is scheduled to make his VMS/ARCA debut on April 9th at the Nashville Fairgrounds followed by events at Madison Int’l Speedway (June 19th) and Iowa Speedway (July 9th).
“We’ve had a lot of success over the years assisting young drivers make the transition into ARCA,” says VMS’s competition director Billy Venturini. “I have high hopes for Christian as he’s consistently shown his ability behind the wheel throughout his young career. I’m looking forward to working with him and seeing what the future holds – I’m confident he’ll succeed.”
The young Eckes, coming off his first full season of Late Model competition driving for LFR Driver Development and JR Motorsports impressed earning one win, eight top-five and 14 top-10 finishes during the ’15 season.
Prior to racing Late Models, the high school sophomore honor student began his driving career racing Bandoleros in 2011 before moving up and competing in the U.S. Legends Cars Circuit. Once behind the wheel of the legends car, Eckes quickly made a name for himself compiling 25 victories and 52 top-5’s in just 67 career races – finishing runner-up in the INEX Legend Car Young Lions National Championship point standing in 2014.
“The last couple weeks have been exciting and filled with a lot of anticipation,” says Eckes, when asked about his plans for the upcoming 2016 season.
“It feels good to have an opportunity to run with such a prestigious ARCA team such as Venturini. There’s a lot of pressure but I’m confident knowing the support I have along with my ability as a driver. The move to ARCA will be challenging – but I’m here to gain as much experience as I can and earn the respect of my competitors. Throughout my career I’ve moved up the ranks with success, the transition from Late Models to the ARCA car will be exciting and hopefully filled with same success I’ve experienced so far in my career,” added Eckes.
Eckes will become the fifth 15-year-old driver to compete for VMS in the ARCA Series since the competition age requirement was lowered to fifteen in 2012 – joining previous VMS drivers – Erik Jones, Kyle Benjamin, JJ Haley and Todd Gilliland. Benjamin became the first fifteen year old series winner (2012). Gilliland broke Benjamin’s record with his win last season at Toledo, the day after his fifteenth birthday, becoming the youngest winner in series history.
Eckes, the latest VMS driver to be announced, will join veterans Tom Hessert and Mark Thompson along with rookie drivers William Byron and Cole Williams for the 2016 ARCA campaign. Eckes and Byron were teammates during their time in the Legends Series.