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TC Daily Pit Stop: Eckes Returns to McAnally-Hilgemann Racing in 2024; Ron Devine Indicted; Jeff Gordon Feels Teams Need Stronger Connections With Race Fans
TC Daily Pit Stop: Thursday, October 19th, 2023
Christian Eckes, who has enjoyed an incredible season in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series in 2023 with McAnally-Hilgemann Racing, will officially return to the team for the 2024 campaign.
The 22-year-old has a series-high three wins this year and will reprise his role as the driver of the No. 19 Chevrolet Silverado.
“I’m very excited to return to the #19 Silverado next season with Charles (Denike) and our entire NAPA Auto Care team,” Eckes said. “Our current main priority is trying to cap 2023 off with a championship, but having the opportunity to build upon our successes and continue growing MHR is something I’m really looking forward to in 2024. It’s been a pleasure to work with the NAPA store owners, NAPA shop owners, suppliers, and everyone in the NAPA Network. I’m thrilled to continue that relationship and ready for another great year with all our amazing partners.”
Former NASCAR Cup Series team owner Ron Devine was indicted Wednesday on four counts of failure to pay payroll taxes, according to a press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of North Carolina.
The 67-year-old was the majority owner of the BK Racing team, which competed in the NASCAR Cup Series from 2012 to 2018. The team was forced to sell its Charter after filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2018.
When a legendary player in the NFL like Joe Montana or Tom Brady switches teams or retires fans of the team they’re playing for typically stick with their favorite team. That hasn’t been the dynamic in NASCAR over the years. Speaking at Racers Forum on Tuesday, Jeff Gordon said he would like to see teams strengthen their connections with fans to create a similar dynamic in NASCAR.
"Joe Montana, of course, was one of my heroes, and I loved him because he was a 49er. When he left the 49ers and went to the Kansas City Chiefs, I was like, 'eh, who's the new quarterback?' I think we have a role as race teams to build our brand up, maybe not as much as the star power of the driver, but in a way where drivers -- and we've seen this recently with Jimmie Johnson, Dale Jr., and myself, several big drivers that have huge fan followings stepped away from the sport, and I think it had a big impact on the sport. Because the fans seem to not have a connection to the team as strongly as they did to the driver," Gordon stated.
The four-time NASCAR Cup Series championship driver still concedes that the drivers are and always will be the stars of the sport, but believes if fans become connected with a team, they’ll remain fans of the sport even if their favorite driver decides to retire from driving.
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