November 10th, 2017

Rhodes night ends with a crash

Jeff Woods 

Staff Writer 

Rhodes night ends with a crash
Ben Rhodes / file photo

There was no shortage of fireworks at Phoenix Friday night. Just not the kind of fireworks Ben Rhodes wanted to see.

The Louisville native’s quest for a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship ended with a hard crash in the closing laps of the Lucas Oil 150. On a restart with 20 laps to go, Rhodes was hit in the left rear by Austin Cindric, who Rhodes was battling for the last playoff spot. Rhodes hit the inside wall head on, spun back up the track, collided with ThorSport teammate Matt Crafton, and hit the outside wall before coming to a stop in turn one. Rhodes’ No. 27 Safelite Tundra was destroyed and his night was over.

Immediately following the wreck, emotions were running high. Rhodes and his team made it clear they thought Cindric was driving too aggressive.

“There’s definitely a time and place to go three-wide, but there was still a lot of racing to go,” Rhodes told the Fox Sports 1 broadcast. “I could’ve done the same move to the guy in front of me, but chose not to do it because it wasn’t the time. He put me in a bad place and I tried to do everything I could to keep the spot, but once you file into turn one, we were all going to wreck. I’m not sure that was the right move on his part.”

Rhodes and Cindric were separated by one just point at the time of the restart. Rhodes needed to finish two positions ahead of Cindric to clinch the final playoff spot. Cindric attempted a three-wide move on the inside. Rhodes cut down to block and the two trucks made contact.

“We were better than them all night,” said Rhodes’ crew chief Eddie Troconis. “We gave them the chance to be on our bumper and they took the cheap shot. If they want to go race at Homestead like that, they’re not going to make it lap one. We race them clean and we were better than them all year. We deserve to be at Homestead.”

Rhodes was running fourth and comfortably ahead of Cindric when the caution flag flew with 29 laps to go. The team decided to come to pit road for two tires, which gave Cindric the chance to restart directly behind Rhodes.

“He didn’t have the position on me at all. His nose was barely in there,” said Rhodes. “He never would have made the corner. Just driving over his head, I guess. We’re just going to go forward from here to Homestead and finish out the season strong.”

Cindric went on to finish ninth and secure the final spot in the Championship Four at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

“I knew that was my chance to put ourselves in a position to try and get by Ben Rhodes,” said Cindric. “They ran a great race and were doing what they needed to do to beat us. We were on the inside, he went to defend. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional on either party and I hate the way it ended, but it puts us in the Championship Four.”

Rhodes qualified third and ran in the top five most of the night.

Race coverage of the season finale at Homestead begins at 8:00 p.m. Friday night on Fox Sports 1. 


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