Ben Rhodes – 2016 Charlotte Race Recap

Rhodes_Ben_2015Hero_NXSTeam Information:
Started: 12th
Finished: 17th
Laps: 134/134
Laps Led: 0
Status: Running
Driver Points: 16th
Owner Points: 17th

Ben Rhodes Race Recap:

Ben Rhodes, driver of the No. 41 USA Cares Toyota Tundra made his track debut at Charlotte Motor Speedway in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) rain-postponed NC Education Lottery 200. Starting from the 12th position, when Friday afternoon’s qualifying session was cancelled, and the field was set per the rule book – Thursday’s practice times – Rhodes was able to work his way inside the top-10 by lap 10, and settled into the 10th position by lap 20. Under the races first caution of the afternoon at lap 24, for an accident in Turn 1, crew chief Kevin Bellicourt brought the No. 41 Toyota Tundra to pit road for four tires and fuel. Due to a combination of two, and four tire pit stops down pit road, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender would restart from the 17th position when the field went back to green on lap 28.

Continuing to fight a Toyota Tundra that had no grip, Rhodes was mired inside the top-20 until the second caution flag was waved on lap 68 of 134 for an expired caution clock. Bellicourt brought the No. 41 machine to pit road, under caution, for relief. Four tires, fuel, and an adjustment, to aid in lateral grip, were on call for the Louisville, KY native. Restarting 12th when the field went back to green at lap 71, Rhodes was able to maintain a position inside the top-10 for the ensuing 10 laps, until falling to 11th at lap 90, and just inside the top-15 by lap 100. During the long green-flag run, which consisted of the races final 63 laps, fuel mileage began to play a role in the outcome of the event. Under green, with 10 laps remaining, Rhodes was forced to bring his Tundra to pit road for fuel only. Rejoining the field in the 18th position, Rhodes was able to gain one spot on the race track to finish 17th behind teammate and race winner, Matt Crafton.

Quote:

“The No. 41 USA Cares Toyota Tundra struggled a little today. We started off with zero grip, and as we went on, and everything got slicker, that equaled it out a little bit. We kept falling back, and there were times during the race when I thought, ‘we’re going to have to give up spots on the restarts because I can’t drive around anyone.’ So, we just need to do some homework, and get the aero balance on this truck a little better. I’m really proud of all my guys today, they worked really hard. We picked up spots on pit road, like we always do, which shows how strong my guys are on pit road. So, there are positives to take away from today, we just have to make the trucks a little faster, and go out there to compete for wins, and get in the chase.”

Notes:

  • Rain cancelled two of the three scheduled practice sessions on Thursday afternoon at Charlotte Motor Speedway (CMS) due to rain. Following the one-hour final practice session, Ben Rhodes, driver of the No. 41 USA Cares Toyota Tundra was 12th fastest of 36 trucks.
  • Qualifying for the 14th annual NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) event was cancelled on Friday afternoon due to weather. The 32-truck field was set based on the rule book – practice speeds – and Rhodes rolled off from the 12th position for the 134-lap event.
  • In his CMS debut, the ThorSport Racing driver started 12th, ran as high as fourth, and finished 17th.
  • In six starts in 2016, Rhodes has led 47 laps en route to two top-10 finishes.
  • In 10 career NCWTS starts, Rhodes has one pole (Martinsville), and has led 47 laps en route to one top-five (Phoenix, 2014), and five top-10 finishes.
  • Rhodes’ ThorSport Racing teammates finished first (Crafton), 15th (Hayley), and 20th (Abreu).
  • Up next: The Rattlesnake 400 on Friday, June 10 at Texas Motor Speedway

 

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