Ben Rhodes, No. 27 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Talk about what you expect at Martinsville this weekend.
“It’s been an up and down season for our 27 Safelite Toyota team. Obviously Las Vegas was really big for us, it allowed us to advance to the Round of 6 here. Then Talladega wasn’t too good of a race. I’m looking at this race tomorrow just as survival for me. There’s a lot of new drivers in here and some drivers from the Cup Series as well. A lot of people probably see it as there opportunity to win and do well and be really aggressive and you know I think we just need to survive tomorrow. We can certainly take ourselves out of the Playoffs tomorrow more so than boosting ourselves forward, so survive tomorrow and then Texas and Phoenix will be good for us.”
How important is tomorrow’s race to getting to the final four?
“I definitely believe we can be in Homestead. I’m determined to be there. I know my whole team is more than ever. I think we deserve to be there, but we have a whole field and three different races to try to get there. There’s so many variables, so many bad things can happen and I’ve seen that throughout my season this year. Again, I think survival tomorrow is my biggest story and I think as long as we can do that, we’ll be fine. We have enough speed in our Tundras to race up front and get points. We can point our way into the Playoffs, or into the final four, but I’d much rather get a win and I think we have the speed to do that, but I feel like Phoenix and Texas would be some very strong race tracks for me.”
How much does winning at Las Vegas help your confidence coming into Martinsville?
“Well not only my confidence, but the whole team’s. That was a first win for not only myself, but almost every single crew member on the team especially in their perspective position – or respective position. I feel like Martinsville has been a fast track for me in the past, but I don’t have the results to show, so you know I think survival again, talking about survival, the past I would get caught up in stuff and survival for me is what’s going to get us that finish. I think we’re trying some new stuff this weekend and I’m hoping that will translate into more speed and like what Johnny (Sauter) was saying qualifying’s really important so I think qualifying is going to be half the battle for me. If I can qualify up front, the race is going to go way better for me than it has in the past.”
Talk about your new hobby. I understand you’ve been taking boxing lessons.
“I wouldn’t really call it a new hobby. I started – it’s more or less like cross training I guess. I started doing that last August or July. I’ve been doing that for a long time now. It’s just something fun to do. It changes up the monotony of training. You get on a bike and you cycle for two hours and you know it’s strung out, it’s very long. It’s very similar to your heart rate and stuff and a race car, but I enjoy the intensity of it and then also just the practicality of it, right? It’s just a lot of fun. I’m a huge fan of boxing and UFC. I can’t say I’m a huge like football or stick and ball sport fan, but I love boxing, UFC. I watch any time it’s on tv, you’ll catch me buying all the Pay-Per-View stuff. I’m just a big fan of it.”
Does boxing have any similarities to racing?
“Yeah, I would say endurance. One of the cool things about that sport versus our sport is it’s what you make of it. When you’re in a race car, you can be really tense and you can wear yourself out really quickly or you can be relaxed and have a better frame of mind and you can approach every corner with a better, more clear head. With boxing, you get in the ring and you know you can wear yourself out really quickly being intense or you can relax and kind of let the punches go and I feel like that’s – it kind of translates well. It’s just something to get me a little more clarity I guess.”