Hometown Favorite Ben Rhodes Wins at Kentucky

Ben Rhodes wins at Kentucky Speedway
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

The Louisville Slugger knocked it out of the park on Thursday night at Kentucky Speedway.

Ben Rhodes, who grew up less than an hour west of the venue in Sparta, Kentucky, finally won a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at his home track.

A fuel-only gamble by the No. 41 ThorSport Racing team in the closing laps paid off for the 21-year-old Louisville native, who led the final 24 laps of the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225.

Rhodes held off Stewart Friesen by .922-seconds at the line for his first win of the season and the first victory for ThorSport since switching to Ford Performance at the start of 2018.

[adinserter name="GOOGLE AD"] "I still don't have any words," Rhodes said after his second-career win in the Camping World Truck Series. "This is amazing, a dream come true. This has been such a long time coming. These guys deserved it so much. They've been working their butts off and we've been having such bad luck this year.

"We've had trucks like this all year long, finally we could showcase it. I'm so proud of this team. This is exactly what we needed."

Friesen came from the rear of the field after the team was forced to change engines prior to the race to finish second – tying his career-best from Texas Motor Speedway earlier this year.

"We had an engine problem during time trials and the whole team stepped in," Friesen said. "It was awesome. We had less than an hour to go to swap ‘em out and we had a good finish. We led some laps. Didn't get off the way we needed to on pit road at the end and it was the difference of about 100 yards and a lot of clean air. Proud of the guys, but I made a little mistake there and it cost us."

Matt Crafton, Brandon Jones, John Hunter Nemechek, Grant Enfinger, Todd Gilliland, Noah Gragson, Dalton Sergeant and Justin Haley rounded out the top 10.

Ben Rhodes gambled on a fuel-only pit stop late in the race to put him in contention for the victory
Michael Reaves/Getty Images

Rhodes passed pole sitter Noah Gragson with three laps remaining in the first segment to win Stage 1. Gragson came back to win Stage 2. Parker Kligerman led the field to green for the final segment. Friesen swapped spots with Kligerman and finally gained control of the point by Lap 89.

Rhodes came from fifth to second with a bold move taking Kligerman and Brandon Jones three-wide to gain the position. Although Friesen led 37 laps, a problem in the pits with the right rear tire proved costly for the No. 52 Chevrolet on Lap 124. Rhodes gained the lead before pitting on the next lap.

Crew chief Eddie Troconis elected to pit for fuel only and a chassis adjustment. Although he had the lead entering pit road, a fire in the pit ahead of him left a cloud of smoke blocking his view of his box.

"I was really worried," Rhodes said. "I came in with the pit stall on fire in front of us. I almost missed my stall with all the smoke coming out."

Still, Rhodes cycled out to the lead with Friesen in second place.

"It was a bold move, but that's how you win, you win with bold moves," Troconis said. "That's what we came here to show them that we're going to win this championship. This kid has a lot of talent."

With 15 laps remaining, Rhodes' lead was just over .32-seconds over Friesen. But after Rhodes settled in he extended his advantage over the Friesen in the closing laps.

"A huge thank you to Ford Performance, ThorSport Racing and Carolina Nut Company," Rhodes said. "They've been behind us 100 percent. This is our first win with Ford this year for ThorSport, so I'm pretty happy about that."

Johnny Sauter, who suffered a speeding penalty on pit road late in the race finished 15th but retained the points lead by 42 over Noah Gragson.

The only caution other than the completion of stages occurred on the first lap of the race when Tyler Matthews made contact with Nemechek and spun the No. 83 truck.

RACE RESULTS

Finish Start # Driver Sponsor/Make Laps Led Points Status
1 3 41 Ben Rhodes The Carolina Nut Co. Ford 150 38 58 Running
2 14 52 Stewart Friesen We Build America Chevrolet 150 37 46 Running
3 30 88 Matt Crafton Great Lakes/Menards Ford 150 0 41 Running
4 6 51 Brandon Jones SoleusAir/Menards Toyota 150 0 0 Running
5 17 8 J.H. Nemechek D.A.B. Constructors/Fleetwing Chevrolet 150 0 0 Running
6 5 98 Grant Enfinger Curb Records Ford 150 0 43 Running
7 2 4 Todd Gilliland
Mobil 1 Toyota 150 1 43 Running
8 1 18 Noah Gragson Safelite AutoGlass Toyota 150 62 48 Running
9 9 25 Dalton Sargeant
Performance Plus Motor Oil Chevrolet 150 0 29 Running
10 10 24 Justin Haley Fraternal Order of Eagles Chevrolet 150 0 31 Running
11 4 17 Chris Eggleston BlazeMaster Fire Protection Systems Toyota 149 0 26 Running
12 11 2 Cody Coughlin JEGS.com Chevrolet 149 0 25 Running
13 15 7 Korbin Forrister Now Matters More Toyota 149 0 24 Running
14 18 22 Austin Self GO TEXAN Chevrolet 149 0 23 Running
15 7 21 Johnny Sauter ISM Connect Chevrolet 148 0 25 Running
16 12 2 Austin Hill Whitetail Heaven Outfitters Chevrolet 148 0 21 Running
17 19 45 Justin Fontaine
ProMATIC Automation Chevrolet 148 0 20 Running
18 13 16 Brett Moffitt ADVICS/AISIN Group Toyota 148 0 19 Running
19 20 3 Jordan Anderson Bommarito Automotive Group Chevrolet 146 0 18 Running
20 22 54 Bo LeMastus
Crosley Brands/DGR-Crosley Toyota 146 0 17 Running
21 21 68 Clay Greenfield AMVETS Please Stand Chevrolet 145 0 16 Running
22 23 15 Robby Lyons Sunwest Construction Chevrolet 143 0 15 Running
23 26 33 Josh Reaume Colonial Countertops Chevrolet 143 0 14 Running
24 28 49 Wendell Chavous SobrietyNation.org Chevrolet 139 0 13 Running
25 31 6 Norm Benning Zomongo/H&H Transport Chevrolet 138 0 12 Running
26 32 13 Myatt Snider
FarmPaint.com Ford 137 0 11 Running
27 8 75 Parker Kligerman Food Country USA Chevrolet 133 12 13 Accident
28 16 20 Tate Fogleman Randco Chevrolet 103 0 9 Suspension
29 29 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Driven2Honor Chevrolet 28 0 8 Overheating
30 27 63 Bayley Currey MB Motorsports Chevrolet 22 0 7 Vibration
31 25 0 Camden Murphy Driven2Honor Chevrolet 11 0 6 Electrical
32 24 83 Tyler Matthews Accent Imaging Chevrolet 1 0 5 Accident

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