Ben Rhodes – 2016 Michigan Recap

MI4_6281Team Information:
Started: 19th
Finished: 6th
Laps: 100/100
Laps Led: 4
Status: Running
2016 Driver Points: 12th
2016 Owner Points: 13th

Ben Rhodes Race Recap:

Ben Rhodes, driver of the No. 41 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra, made his track debut in Saturday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Careers for Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway (MIS). Showing speed in both practice sessions, Rhodes qualified 19th, led the 32-truck field once for four laps, and finished sixth. The top-10 result was the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders fifth top-10 finish in 14 starts this season.

Starting 19th, Rhodes showed speed early in the 100-lap event. By lap 10, the No. 41 Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra was scored 9th, and by the first caution at lap 32, the rookie was scored in the eighth position. Complaining of a Tundra that was, “tight on entry, and free through the center of the corners and off,” crew chief Kevin Bellicourt brought Rhodes to pit road under the first caution for four tires, including an air pressure adjustment, and fuel, to aid in the handling. Maintaining a position inside the top-10 through the ensuing 10 laps, Bellicourt made a pit strategy call to stay out, when the leaders opted to pit, allowing Rhodes to lead the field to the green, at lap 46, for four laps.

Trying to push teammate Matt Crafton on a restart at lap 55, the duo got disconnected and Rhodes was freight trained by a pack of trucks, forcing the ThorSport Racing driver to lose valuable track position. Bellicourt brought the No. 41 machine to pit road for a final time at lap 64, under the fourth caution of the afternoon, for four tires, and fuel. Restarting 14th, Rhodes was able to work his way through the field in the final 30 laps, utilizing the draft, to finish sixth behind race winner, Brett Moffitt.

Quote:

“Overall it was a decent day for us, we had a really strong Carolina Nut Co. Toyota Tundra. It’s just a shame we couldn’t finish a little bit better. I would have definitely liked to get a top-five finish, at least, but we definitely needed the win. But man, our performance today was really strong, we had really good corner speed, it’s just unfortunate how it unfolded at some points. We just never could get any partners to push us to the front, or carry us on the restarts. There were a couple of restarts where we were up front, and just fell all the way to the rear because we just didn’t have anyone behind us. All-in-all, I learned a lot from this race, and I’m glad were bringing our Toyota Tundra home in one piece. We’ll take what we learned here, and move forward to Canada next week – I feel really good about the track.”

News & Notes:

  • The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) had two practice sessions on Friday in preparation for Saturday’s Careers for Veterans 200 at MIS. Ben Rhodes was fifth, and 12th, respectively, in both sessions.
  • Following final practice on Friday, the No. 41 Carolina Nut Co. team changed a motor.
  • Making his track debut at MIS in the NCWTS, Rhodes started 19th, led the 32-truck field once for four laps, and finished sixth.
  • In 14 starts in 2016, Rhodes has led 55 laps en route to two top-five, and five top-10 finishes.
  • In 18 career NCWTS starts, Rhodes has one pole (Martinsville), and has led 55 laps en route to three top-five, and eight top-10 finishes.
  • Rhodes’ ThorSport Racing teammates finished fifth (Hayley), seventh (Crafton), and 13th (Abreu).
  • Up Next: The NCWTS 250 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park on Sunday, September 4, 2016 at 2:30pm ET.
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