By Seth Eggert, Staff Writer
Following the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series season finale, Christian Eckes underwent a successful left shoulder surgery.
The 2019 ARCA Menards Series Champion first injured his left shoulder about five years ago in a racing incident. As Eckes was competing in both Legends Cars and Late Model competition, he is unsure in which car he suffered the injury, a torn labrum in the rear of the shoulder.
The surgery took place as Eckes transitions from ARCA to the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. The Middletown, N.Y. native will compete for both the championship and rookie-of-the-year honors in the No. 18 Safelite Toyota Tundra for Kyle Busch Motorsports.
Eckes told Kickinâ the Tires that the injury had been bothersome, but that he will be healed in time for Daytona:
âI had shoulder surgery here about three weeks ago now. Itâs always bothered me for a long time now. I think itâs from a wreck or something from 2014, 2015 range and I finally had the time and doctors around me to do it successfully. I might have to do the right one next year too, but at least Iâll be prepared for now. So, everythingâs going good and it should be perfect for Daytona.â
The 19-year-old has started physical therapy recently and will continue physical therapy beyond Speedweeks. Eckes is expected to be relatively near 100% by the time the 2020 Truck Series season opener takes place Friday, Feb. 14.
Eckes will have the added benefit of having two-time championship winning crew chief Rudy Fugle on top of the pit box. The duo worked together in eight races this season, resulting in three top-five, four top-10s, and three pole positions.
The teenager has already rebounded once before. Eckes missed the first ARCA race at Salem Speedway due to food poisoning. He rallied to win the championship, despite starting one less race than his Venturini Motorsports teammate.