Sounding Off – Ben Rhodes:
Now that you have one race under you belt with NASCAR’s new race format, what are your thoughts on the three stages?
“I like the stages because it rewards performance throughout the entire race, and doesn’t penalize a driver for an incident towards the end. Daytona was an example of that for our No. 27 Safelite team. We ran strong and finished third and sixth in the first two stages, but got wrecked going for the win on the last lap. Although I finished 12th, I am fourth in points due to our performance overall. I also think it gives the fans excitement from the green flag to the checkered flag.”
You had a strong run in Atlanta last year, do you think this is a track where you can get your first career win?
“Our No. 27 Safelite Toyota Tundra was really fast at Daytona, and we have another fast Tundra ready for Atlanta. Last year at Atlanta we had to overcome adversity with a handling situation created by a pit stop, and had to work our way up through the field. We were three wide at the stripe and we finished sixth. This year, Eddie (Troconis) and the ThorSport Racing guys put together a new, fast Tundra, and we’re confident going into Saturday’s race. If we don’t have any bad luck, we are confident our Safelite Tundra is strong enough to put us in a position to win.”
News & Notes:
- Chassis Information…The No. 27 ThorSport Racing team will utilize chassis No. 62 for Saturday’s Active Pest Control 200 at Atlanta (Ga.) Motor Speedway (AMS). This is the same chassis Cameron Hayley piloted to a third-place finish at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet (2016), and a 10th-place finish at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (2016).
- All About Atlanta… In Rhodes’ AMS debut in 2016, the Louisville, KY native started seventh, ran as high as second, and finished sixth in the 130-lap event.
- Intermediate Track Success… In nine career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) starts on an Intermediate-style track (1.5-miles to 1.54-miles in length), Rhodes has one top-10 (Atlanta), and four top-15 finishes.
- Take Me Back… The NASCAR Next alumni raced on the front stretch quarter-mile in Legend Cars and Bandoleros during Thursday Thunder competition, including finishing second three times in 2011 Legends Car competition.
- First Time for Everything… Much like Rhodes, who is looking for his first win in NASCAR’s top series, two former NCWTS drivers earned their career first wins at AMS – Ryan Newman (2008), and Ty Dillon (2012).
- Call The Hotline Number… Safelite AutoGlass, who recently announced they were supporting Rhodes in his sophomore season in the NCWTS, has a repair hotline for when your vehicles glass needs to be repaired or replaced: 1-800-800-2727. Hence, the No. 27 on Rhodes Toyota Tundra for 2017.
- Rearview Mirror – Daytona… Making his second start at DIS, Rhodes started eighth, led the 32 truck field twice for 20 laps and finished 12th in the 100-lap event after getting caught up in the “Big One” on lap 99 of 100.
- Changes for 2017… Atlanta will feature three stages (Stage 1 – 40 laps, Stage 2 – 40 laps, Final Stage – 50 laps), with approximately a five-minute break in between.
- Catch Ben in Atlanta… Rhodes, along with his TSR teammates, will participate in the series autograph session from 9-9:45am in the Ballroom at AMS.
Rhodes Career NCWTS stats:
- Starts: 28 since 2014
- First Full-time Season: 2016
- Poles: 1 (Martinsville-1, 2016)
- Top-5 Finishes: 3
- Top-10 Finishes: 8
- Laps Completed: 4013
- Laps Led: 75
- First Start: Martinsville-1, 2014 (8th)
- Best Finish: 2nd; Gateway
- Start: 9.5
- Finish: 15.1
Crew Chief: Eddie Troconis
Engine: Triad Racing Technologies
2017 Driver Point Standings: 4th
2017 Owner Point Standings: 5th
Date: Saturday, March 4
Time: 4:30pm ET
Distance: 130 laps/200.2 miles