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Christian Eckes leads ThorSport sweep in LVMS truck race

Christian Eckes powered past Todd Gilliland and into the lead on a late restart to lead a 1-2-3-4 ThorSport Racing parade across the finish line in the Victoria’s Voice Foundation 200 NASCAR Truck Series playoff race Friday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

It was the first career victory in 44 starts for the 20-year-old part-time driver from New York who was locked in a battle with teammate and playoff driver Ben Rhodes when the caution flag came out on the final lap, freezing the field. Matt Crafton (playoff driver) and Johnny Sauter rounded out the Thorsport freight train on a rough night for championship contenders.

Gilliland, who missed qualifying for the second round of the playoffs by two points, led a race-high 66 of 134 laps and finished fifth.

Five of the eight playoff drivers who advanced to the Round of 8 — Carson Horcevar, Zane Smith, John Hunter Nemechek, Chandler Smith and reigning series champ Sheldon Creed — suffered crashes and other issues that knocked them down in the finishing order.

The third race stage was marred by a fiery five-truck crash that eliminated Smith and Creed.

Smith, a 19-year-old who advanced to the second playoff round by winning the cutoff race at Bristol last week, got the worst of it when Creed plowed into him during the chain reaction pileup.

Creed’s truck burst into flames, but neither he nor Smith was injured.

Jaskol to arrive in style

Xfinity Series driver Matt Jaskol of Las Vegas said it took a long time for him to make his debut at his hometown track. So he plans to make a memorable entrance before Saturday’s playoff race at LVMS.

He will skydive into driver introductions.

“No practice, no qualifying, let’s just make it as difficult as possible,” said the 36-year-old Jaskol, who took up jumping out of airplanes when his budding IndyCar career stalled.

Jaskol, who has driven in five 2021 Xfinity races for MBM Motorsports with a high finish of 19th on the road course at Mid-Ohio, and his sponsor, AutoParts4Less.com, will make a $10,000 donation to Speedway Children’s Charities after he parachutes onto the starting grid.

LVMS releases NFTs

To commemorate its 25th anniversary and Sunday’s South Point 400, LVMS has released its first series of NFTs — nonfungible tokens — which are fast becoming the digital equivalent of baseball cards to sports collectors.

LVMS is releasing four NFTs, including two winner’s edition digital coin-like tokens on Monday. One will be awarded to the winning driver, with the other available through an auction beginning at 3 p.m. Monday at RaceDayNFT.com.

The NFT commemorating Kyle Larson’s win Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway sold for $5,050.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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