Laps Led: 4
Driver Points: 10th
Owner Points: 11th
CAREER-BEST FINISH FOR BEN RHODES IN TRACK DEBUT AT GATEWAY
Ben Rhodes Race Recap:
Ben Rhodes, driver of the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra, made his track debut in Saturday night’s rain-delayed NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park (GMP). The Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender showed speed throughout both practice sessions on Saturday morning, posting the fastest times of 32 trucks in both sessions. Therefore, when qualifying was cancelled due to rain on Saturday, afternoon, Rhodes took the pole position based on the NASCAR rule book – a combination of both practice speeds.
Starting from the front row, Rhodes lost the lead to the No. 21 truck early, but maintained a second-place position through the second caution at lap 26, when crew chief Kevin Bellicourt brought the No. 41 machine to pit road for four tires, and fuel. With a mix of two-tire, and fuel only strategies on pit road, Rhodes would restart from the 14th position when the field went back to green on lap 30.
Complaining of a “tight” Toyota Tundra, the ThorSport Racing driver was able to work his way back into the top-five by lap 100, making pit stops at laps 66, and 114, respectively, for four tires and fuel. In the final 40 laps, the field was slowed four times for 16 laps, which included three red flag conditions. Rhodes was able to maintain his position inside the top-five, and made a race-changing pass, on a restart at lap 149, to lead the field for four laps before settling in to the second position at lap 153. Rhodes would maintain his position through the final restart at lap 158 to claim a career-best second-place finish behind race winner, Christopher Bell.
Did you think you had anything for Christopher Bell at the end?
“He (Christopher Bell) had a really loose truck and that’s what you needed at the end of the race. It just got tighter and tighter and tighter as the runs went on. I was way too tight, but I was making some good ground on the outside. He came up on us a little bit, which is fine – it’s racing for the win at the end, and he did an awesome job all night. He raced everybody clean, and with respect, and I think that’s what we could use – a little more of that in our series after this crazy driving, but I had a blast tonight. The guys on our Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra worked their butts off all week, and I can’t thank them enough for what they’ve done. A career-best finish of second is great, but after tasting it (victory) four times now, and not being able to go home and get it – that’s been tough, but hopefully here soon. We’re just going to keep pushing forward.”
What happened between you and Tyler Reddick on the penultimate restart?
“Yeah, so I know we had a really good race here. Our guys have done an awesome job supporting me all night long. That was unfortunate. I had such a good run coming down from (Turns) one and two. I saw the 9 (William Byron) get loose underneath me. I gave him a bunch of room. We had an awesome run coming down the back stretch and he (Tyler Reddick) started blocking it trying to save his spot. He didn’t want me to take him three of four wide at that time, so I slowed down and I squared up on his bumper and pushed him, and I guess I gave him too much momentum going into the corner. I don’t know. I was off of him going into the corner though, so I just know everybody on this Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra has worked their butts off and I can’t thank them enough for everything they’ve done for me.”
- The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) had two practice sessions on Saturday morning in preparation for Saturday night’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200 at Gateway Motorsports Park (GMP). Rhodes was the fastest truck in both sessions.
- In his track debut at Gateway Motorsports Park (GMP) in the NCWTS, the ThorSport Racing driver started first, had an average running position of 5.5, led four laps, and finished a career-best second.
- In nine starts in 2016, Rhodes has led 51 laps en route to two top-five (Iowa), and four top-10 finishes.
- In 13 career NCWTS starts, Rhodes has one pole (Martinsville), and has led 51 laps en route to three top-five, and seven top-10 finishes.
- Rhodes’ ThorSport Racing teammates finished 14th (Abreu), 24th (Hayley), and 27th (Crafton).
- Up Next: The Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway on Thursday, July 7 at 8:30pm ET.