August 11th, 2018

Ben Rhodes Finishes Sixth at Michigan

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Conor Revell

Managing Editor


Ben Rhodes Finishes Sixth at Michigan
Ben Rhodes / file photo

Ben Rhodes passed a lot of trucks Saturday. His efforts earned him a solid sixth-place finish at Michigan International Speedway in the Corrigan Oil 200, the highest finish by a Ford driver.  

The Louisville native found himself near the back of the field three times throughout the afternoon but managed to march toward the front each time.

“All in all, I feel like our Carolina Nut Ford F-150 was fast enough to be in victory lane, but we didn’t have the track position or the luck today to get up in the right spot to make something happen.

“We went from the back to the front a couple of times, and unfortunately stuff just wasn’t working out for us today.”

Rhodes qualified 17th, but he would not stay there very long. Rhodes only needed two laps to crack the top ten and moved all the way to sixth in just six laps, where Rhodes would remain until the end of Stage 1.

At the start of Stage 2, Rhodes gained another three spots to climb into the top three when the caution flag flew for an accident in turn two. On the ensuing restart, Rhodes got caught out of the draft on the inside lane and dropped to eleventh. In hopes of gaining track position later, the team decided to bring Rhodes to pit road under caution with three laps remaining in the stage for tires and fuel. He finished Stage 2 in 17th, but he got several spots back when many of the leaders made their pit stop.

“The draft was pretty much the only way to run,” said Rhodes. “You run so much faster in the draft than you do by yourself that’s it actually smarter to just hit the brakes, slow down and get your bumper behind someone’s back bumper and just take off.”

Green flag racing resumed on Lap 47 of 100 with Rhodes running 12th. He methodically started moving through the field, and by Lap 65, Rhodes was up to seventh. With all of the leaders needing to make one final stop for fuel, Rhodes dipped onto pit road with 30 laps to go. Unfortunately for him and several others who stopped, Myatt Snider spun with 22 laps to go to bring out the caution. Because not everyone had made their pit stop, Rhodes went one lap down. Those drivers eventually pitted under the caution and Rhodes got his lap back, but he was forced to restart at the back of the field with just 18 laps to go.

Once again, Rhodes charged toward the front. He was back in the top ten with 14 laps to go. Then with eight to go, Rhodes made a bold three-wide move on the backstretch to pass two trucks and take sixth place. Rhodes would finish in sixth, notching his eighth top-ten of the season.

“I thought our truck was really stout,” said Rhodes. “I could run toward the high side and the low side and make passes. We did that frequently. I think we showed that we had a strong truck because we had to come through the pack so many times.

“We just had two unfortunate circumstances put us toward the rear, and everybody was driving very aggressive today. It made it hard to make any passes. You had to be 100 percent sure you could complete the pass before you made it or you were going to lose a spot.”

Through 15 races this season, Rhodes has one win, two poles, four stage wins, five top 5s, and ranks third in total laps led. Rhodes is currently fourth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series playoff standings.

The regular season wraps up next Thursday at Bristol Motor Speedway. Dubbed ‘Thunder Valley,’ Bristol offers some of the most exciting racing in NASCAR.

“That’s a really fun race track, and it’s a really good race track for our team,” says Rhodes. “I feel like we’re not only going to have a fun day, but also a really good run.

“The track itself is just a monster, and you have to approach it differently than any other track. Because of that, you need to have your own separate notebook, and I feel like I’ve developed that very well. I feel more confident going into Bristol than ever before.”

Race coverage from Bristol begins at 8:30 p.m. Thursday night on Fox Sports 1.

 

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