INDIANAPOLIS — As first reported on Race Chaser Online Thursday night, 16-year old Christian Eckes will return to Venturini Motorsports for nine short track races with Venturing Motorsports during the 2017 ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards season.
The announcement was made Friday as the second day of the Performance Racing Industry Trade Show kicked off in Indianapolis, and comes on the heels of Eckes’ dramatic super late model victory earlier in the week at the 49th annual Snowball Derby.
Eckes, a native of Middletown, New York, made four starts with the Venturini team in 2016.
“We got to race with Christian a little bit last year and he demonstrated a lot of potentiation and raw speed,” said team owner and general manager Billy Venturini. “Towards the end of 2016, he was able to further demonstrate those abilities and turn them into impressive late model wins. We feel very confident going into the 2017 season that Christian is going to have great success.”
Eckes will drive the No.15 Toyota Camry starting in Nashville on April 8, where he scored his career-best finish to-date of eighth in 2016 during his ARCA debut.
His 2017 ARCA schedule will also include Salem Speedway (April 30), Toledo Speedway (May 21), Elko Speedway (June 3), Madison International Speedway (June 23), Iowa Speedway (July 8), Lucas Oil Raceway (July 21), Winchester Speedway (Aug. 6) and Salem Speedway (Sept. 9).
“I’m happy to announce my return to the ARCA Series with Venturini for next season,” said Eckes. “Coming off a few big wins in the last couple of months I’m excited to start focusing on next season’s efforts. The Venturini team is a great organization to be aligned with and I’m confident we’ll enjoy success.”
“Last season we made a handful of starts together and I learned a lot – making the transition from the super late models to the ARCA car has definitely been a learning experience but overall a smooth transition. I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself and this team – I’m determined to come out and compete for wins and top-five’s right away.”
Veteran crew chief Jeff McClure will coordinate the efforts for Eckes and the 15-team during the 2017 campaign. Since joining Venturini Motorsports in 2013, McClure has gone to victory lane three times, once with Todd Gilliland in 2015 and twice with Christopher Bell this past season.
Sponsorship for Eckes will be named at a later date.
Eckes, a high school Junior and honors student, split his 2016 season running in multiple series, including ARCA, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, the CARS Tour and the PASS South Super Late Model Series, alongside a variety of high profile late model and super late model events.
He completed his 37-race breakout season with three wins, 17 top-fives and 25 top-10s. His three wins came in succession to wrap up his season, with victories in the Myrtle Beach 400, the super late model portion of the Thanksgiving Classic at Southern National Motorsports Park and the Snowball Derby at 5 Flags Speedway.
CREDIT: Venturini Motorsports