Ben Rhodes – 2016 Michigan Preview

Rhodes_Ben_2015Hero_NXSTeam Information:
Crew Chief: Kevin Bellicourt
Manufacturer: Toyota
Engine: Triad Racing Technologies
2016 Driver Points: 13th
2016 Owner Points: 14th

Sounding Off – Ben Rhodes:

Michigan is one of the biggest race tracks, outside superspeedways, that you’ve run as far as a non-restrictor plates are concerned. What do you know about Michigan, and how do you prepare going into a place like Michigan?

“You know, the biggest thing that I’ve been doing, which has kind of been my theme
for the season, is just watching the races, developing a list of questions, asking Matt (Crafton), and others. My crew chief’s been a huge help this year too, he’s been to every single track on the circuit now, and for that reason he knows a lot. He’s been a crew chief at a few of them, a mechanic at a bunch of them, and a tire changer at a lot of them as well. So, he’s been to quite a few of the racetracks and I’ve been leaning on him quite a lot. The big thing for me is watching that film, and developing the list of questions. I’m really excited for Michigan. I think even though it’s higher speeds, the handling characteristics of that race track, the wide-open nature of it, the sweeping turns, that’s something that I’ll like. It’s a little bit of a flatter race track compared to some of the places we go, so I’ll like that as well.”

Aero will obviously be key this weekend given the high speeds. What’s the biggest thing that you’ve learned this year about the aero of these trucks on these bigger race tracks?

“You know the big thing for me is side drafting. I mean learning your space that you need to keep around your race truck and around others to keep yourself safe and out of harm. So you know, keeping people off of your doors, as well as staying off of other people’s doors, that’s the key for me. But then the drafting lessons, and the side drafting lessons that I’ve had at places like Daytona are really going to come in handy at a place like Michigan as well.”

News & Notes:

  • Chassis Chatter…The No. 41 ThorSport Racing team will unload chassis No. 53 for Saturday’s Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). This is the same chassis Rhodes piloted at Atlanta Motor Speedway (6th), Kansas Speedway (18), and Eldora Speedway (23rd) earlier this season.
  • Michigan Minute… Rhodes, who will be making his 18th career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) start on Saturday will also make his track debut at MIS.
  • Peanuts & Racing – A uniquely Southern Combination… The Carolina Nut Co., which specializes in unique flavored nuts, flavored peanuts, spicy nuts and candied nuts, will adorn the No. 41 Toyota Tundra of Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender, Rhodes, for the second time this season at MIS. The brand has 15 unique flavors of peanuts to choose from, including Carolina BBQ, Dill Pickle and Honey Roasted Chipotle, and can be purchased through your local retailer, or online at CarolinaNut.com.
  • Rookie Stripe… Rhodes is currently fourth in the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings after 13 of 23 races this season.
  • Race Rewind – Bristol… Making his second start at BMS in the NCWTS, Rhodes started fourth, a track-best, ran as high as second, and finished 30th, due to engine problems.

Rhodes’ 2016 NCWTS Stats:

  • Starts: 13
  • Poles: 1 (Martinsville, 2016)
  • Top-5 Finishes: 2
  • Top-10 Finishes: 4
  • Laps Completed 1920 of 2076 (92.5%)
  • Laps Led: 51
  • Start: 8.3
  • Finish: 14.3

Rhodes’ Career NCWTS stats:

  • Starts: 17 since 2014
  • First full-time season: 2016
  • Poles: 1 (Martinsville, 2016)
  • Top-5 Finishes: 3
  • Top-10 Finishes: 7
  • Laps Completed: 2671
  • Laps Led: 51
  • First start: Martinsville (8th)
  • Best finish: 2nd (Gateway, 2016)
  • Start: 8.4
  • Finish: 13.5
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