Christian Eckes Edged Out by Austin Theriault in Photo Finish at Elko Speedway

Venturini Motorsports

Elko, Minnesota (June 4, 2017) – After a two year hiatus, the ARCA Racing Series retuned to Elko Speedway rewarding Minnesota race fans with an instant classic in Saturday night’s thrilling Shore Lunch 250.

Christian EckesWith a near capacity crowd standing on their feet, Venturini Motorsports’ Christian Eckes battled side-by-side with Austin Theriault in the final laps, delivering one of the most memorable finishes in recent years, as Theriault nosed out Eckes at the checkered flag.

Eckes, leading 91-laps on the night in his No. 15 New York Bus Sales Toyota, was on point with three laps to go before Austin Theriault moved him out of the way in typical short track fashion on lap 247 of 250.

A determined Eckes, with teammate Zane Smith on his bumper, returned the favor to Theriault coming out of turn four on the final lap – pulling to the inside as the two drivers drag raced towards the checkered flag setting up the dramatic finish with Theriault winning by a nose.

“We had a really fast 15 car,” said Eckes. “The General Tires had plenty of grip. I hate it for my team. We’ve led every race we’ve run this year…we’re so close. I just couldn’t put it together at the end. Congratulations to Austin. It was really fun racing with him. That was really wild. I knew it was going to come down to the end…that’s what racing is all about. Great race.”

Zane Smith, credited with a sixth place finish and 19-laps led, was seemingly set to finish third before being run over by Riley Herbst coming to the stripe, setting off a huge multi-car wreck with Smith getting the worst. Coming to a stop on the track shy of the finish line, Smith was tagged by multiple cars, catapulting his destroyed No. 55 La Paz – Icon Vehicle Dynamics Toyota across the line.

With the help of ARCA’s Safety team, Smith, visibly shaken, exited his car. Transported to a nearby Northfield Hospital for evaluation, Smith was quickly evaluated and released with no serious injury.

Natalie Decker, driving the No.25 N29 Capital Partners Toyota entry – ran mostly inside the top-10 but settled for 13th after serving a drive through penalty for a questionable restart infraction during the late stages of Saturday’s race. Decker, in just her second career series start, once again performed at a higher level than her finishing spot represents.

Living up to her sold short track reputation, 19-year old Decker will test her skills next week when she attempts to make her first career superspeedway start at Pocono Raceway.

The ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards returns to racing next Friday for the General Tire #AnyWhereIsPossible200 at Pocono Raceway, live on FOX Sports 1.

Venturini Motorsports (VMS), fielding cars for over 30-years in the ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards, is one of the premier NASCAR driver development programs in the country. Multiple team championships and consistent on-track success, VMS has evolved into one of the most recognizable names in motorsports. Since 2007, VMS has assisted in the career development of notable NASCAR drivers such as Joey Logano, Erik Jones, William Byron, Justin Allgaier, Alex Bowman, Ryan Blaney, Brennan Poole, Daniel Suarez, and Brandon Jones. Over the years the Venturini name has become synonymous with modern-day racing in America. In 2012, the Venturini family was inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame ( and now find themselves enshrined with such sports icons as Joe DiMaggio, Mario Andretti, Vince Lombardi, Tommy Lasorda and Rocky Marciano.