Ben Rhodes wins wild Truck race at Daytona (Update)

This article was updated with photos and video highlights from the race last night.

February 13, 2021 

23-year-old Ben Rhodes from Louisville got a big push from his Toyota teammate Matt Crafton on the final overtime lap to win the NextEra 250 NASCAR Truck Series race at Daytona Friday night.

Rhodes led seven of the 101 laps in the lid-lifting NextEra Energy 250, driving his ThorSport Racing No. 99 Toyota to a 0.036-second margin of victory at the checkered flag. The fourth win of his Truck Series career was his first at the 2.5-mile Florida track.

Despite his heroic effort to help his teammate, things did not work out well for Crafton as 1/4 of the field wrecked behind the two leaders and Crafton got caught up in the melee.

12th starting the final lap, Jordan Anderson was 2nd for Chevy for the 2nd year in a row as he came across the finish line side-by-side with 3rd place Cory Roper’s Ford.

#99: Ben Rhodes, ThorSport Racing, Toyota Tundra Bombardier LearJet 75 – John K Harrelson/LAT Image for Toyota

Ryan Truex and Carson Hocevar rounded out the top-5.

Of the 36 Trucks that started the race, only 6 finished not torn up.

Two drivers who switched teams in the off season divided the stage wins, with Raphael Lessard (new to GMS Racing) capturing Stage 1 and John Hunter Nemechek (Kyle Busch Motorsports) prevailing in Stage 2. Nemechek slipped out of contention after his No. 4 Toyota was damaged in an eight-vehicle crash with six laps left in regulation, a melee that forced the race into the extra distance.

#51: Drew Dollar, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Toyota Tundra JBL and others cross the finish line in trucks headed for the scrap pile – John K Harrelson/LAT Photo for Toyota

Hailie Deegan started her rookie season with a 24th-place result, slowed by a Lap 80 crash into the inside retaining wall on the backstretch. Her No. 1 David Gilliland Racing Ford sustained significant front-end damage after skidding out of Turn 2 and into the barrier, and she lost three laps while her crew made repairs.


How did you end up here with the checkered flag?

“I don’t even know. I’ve got to give such a big thank you to my team. This is so special. Biggest win of my career. I can’t even believe this. As a driver, you are always asked about what your biggest accomplishment is. This is it. This is hands down it. This is the place to be. I can’t even believe it. We’ve got Bombardier on the truck. We came back to Toyota and we won in our first race with them back with ThorSport. I can’t thank Duke and Rhonda Thorson (team owners) enough for this opportunity. This is special.”

You won at Daytona. How does that feel?

“I’m going to soak it up for as long as I can. That Darlington win went by too fast. You just don’t know when you’re going to get it again, but I’m going to enjoy this night. The best night of my life right here.”

#99: Ben Rhodes, ThorSport Racing, Toyota Tundra Bombardier LearJet 75 takes the win using the outside line.  #04: Cory Roper, Roper Racing, Ford F-150 Alliance Aviation #3: Jordan Anderson, Jordan Anderson Racing, Chevrolet Silverado Swann Security #51: Drew Dollar, Kyle Busch Motorsports, Toyota Tundra JBL – Nigel Kinrade/LAT Photo for Toyota

Can you talk me through your last lap?

“That actually started out at the end of the second stage. I got setup with the same move, and I logged it in my memory bank. I came up short at that checkered flag, but I was going to make sure I didn’t come up short on this one. We just tried to time it right. Thank goodness I had my Menards teammate Matt Crafton behind me because he’s a stud. He’s been around for a long time. He knows what he’s doing, and you’ve seen the help he gives me there. This wouldn’t have been possible without Matt Crafton. I owe him a huge thank you.”

Can you talk us through the last lap of the race?

“I love this, oh my gosh, I love this. This has been such a long time coming for this race. It’s been three years in a row that we got wrecked out leading with like three laps to go. This is years of frustration coming off right now. I can’t even believe it. Thank goodness I had my teammate of Matt Crafton behind me. What a hero? He saved this race for us and got us the win. I can’t even thank him enough. This is because of him. I owe him a huge thank you. He’s a stud and he’s been in this series a long time. He knew what he was doing and he made that block for me. Without him doing it, I don’t think we’d be here right now so thank you so much.”

What all did you all do to the race truck to improve the handling during the race?

“I don’t know if it was the combination of left-side skirt or maybe we were down on the splitter too, but I just had a big balance problem. I was pushing really bad, couldn’t get on people’s bumpers. At the same time, the rearend was out of the track. I don’t know what Rich (Lushes, crew chief) did. I just tried to stay focused on the race. He’s a great crew chief. First race together and he’s got a ton of experience. I just trusted in him. We can talk about the changes in the post-race debrief, he and I. I just trusted in what he was doing and whatever he was doing, he made it right.”

Is being a winner at Daytona better than you ever thought?

“Oh yeah. You can dream about this. I’ve dreamed about this I can’t tell you how long. I’ve dreamed about this since I was seven years old. Nothing describes the feeling. I’ve had very few days like this in my life to have this much elation. My marriage day, a couple other wins, the K&N championship, but this is right up there with all of them. This is Daytona. You don’t even need to explain that. This is Daytona. I’m going to enjoy every second of it.”

Race Results

Pos Str Car Driver Team Behind Laps Led Status
1 23 99 Ben Rhodes Bombardier LearJet 75 Toyota 0.000s 101 7 Running
2 20 3 Jordan Anderson(i) Swann Security Chevrolet 0.036 101 0 Running
3 31 04 Cory Roper Alliance Aviation Ford 0.100 101 0 Running
4 25 40 Ryan Truex Marquis Spas Chevrolet 0.252 101 0 Running
5 12 42 Carson Hocevar # GM Parts Now Chevrolet 0.264 101 0 Running
6 2 2 Sheldon Creed I.B.E.W. Chevrolet 0.356 101 1 Running
7 7 4 John Hunter Nemechek Fire Alarm Services Toyota 0.483 101 14 Running
8 26 9 Codie Rohrbaugh Grant County Mulch Chevrolet 0.605 101 0 Running
9 6 18 Chandler Smith # Safelite AutoGlass Toyota 1.072 101 22 Running
10 17 51 Drew Dollar JBL Toyota 1.200 101 0 Running
11 3 02 Kris Wright # Champion/Curb Records Toyota 1.233 101 13 Running
12 27 20 Spencer Boyd First National Bank Chevrolet 1.250 101 0 Running
13 24 98 Grant Enfinger American PVMT/Raised On BlkTop Chevrolet 1.261 101 0 Running
14 13 17 David Gilliland Black’s Tire Ford 1.329 101 8 Running
15 14 88 Matt Crafton Mold-Armor/Menards Toyota 1.343 101 0 Running
16 8 21 Zane Smith MRC Construction Chevrolet 1.393 101 0 Running
17 32 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb North American Motor Car Toyota 7.657 101 0 Running
18 16 28 Bryan Dauzat Fastener Supply Company Chevrolet 9.377 101 0 Running
19 28 33 Jason White FDNY/OB Builders Chevrolet 15.883 101 2 Running
20 35 22 Austin Wayne Self powder ventures excavations Chevrolet 0.509 100 0 Running
21 19 30 Danny Bohn GO TEXAN/AM Technical Solutions Chevrolet 0.785 100 0 Running
22 18 16 Austin Hill United Rentals Toyota -3 98 0 Running
23 5 24 Raphael Lessard CANAC Chevrolet -3 98 12 Running
24 9 1 Hailie Deegan # Monster Ford -3 98 0 Running
25 15 25 Timothy Peters Circle B Diecast Chevrolet -6 95 1 Running
26 10 45 Brett Moffitt Rackley Roofing Chevrolet -6 95 3 DVP
27 1 13 Johnny Sauter Vivitar/RealTree Toyota -7 94 12 DVP
28 11 26 Tyler Ankrum LiUNA! Chevrolet -7 94 6 Accident
29 4 23 Chase Purdy # Chevrolet -10 91 0 Electrical
30 30 12 Tate Fogleman Solid Rock Carriers Chevrolet -28 73 0 DVP
31 21 38 Todd Gilliland Speedco Ford -30 71 0 Accident
32 29 52 Stewart Friesen Halmar International Toyota -30 71 0 Accident
33 33 19 Derek Kraus MHR SHOCKWAVE Toyota -45 56 0 DVP
34 34 56 Gus Dean Dean Custom Air Chevrolet -100 1 0 Accident
35 22 15 Tanner Gray Ford Performance Ford -101 0 0 Drivetrain
36 36 44 James Buescher FHE FracLock Chevrolet -101 0 0 Accident