Rhodes Cashes In At North Carolina Education Lottery 200
A long wait was well worth it for Ben Rhodes on many levels Friday night, as he powered to the checkered flag in the North Carolina Education Lottery 200 NASCAR CRAFTSMAN Truck Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Rhodes, the 2021 Truck Series champion, snapped a 27-race winless streak and earned his seventh career Truck Series victory.
The race was also the opener of the Triple Truck Challenge, which awarded a $50,000 bonus to Rhodes. The series concludes next month with races at World Wide Technology Raceway at Gateway and Nashville Superspeedway.
“We had really good long-run speed in the truck,” Rhodes said. “Anytime you get a win you enjoy it as much as possible because you don’t know when you’ll be back. It’s harder than ever to win in the Truck Series.”
The 26-year-old from Louisville, Ky., steadily pulled away from Stage One winner Corey Heim on the race’s final restart and emerged with the win after starting the race mid-pack in 19th.
“We had to take it slow and methodical from 19th,” said Rhodes, who led 37 laps driving the No. 99 Ford for ThorSport Racing. “It’s not easy to pass in the Truck Series, especially here at Charlotte, but I’m so happy to get a win here. This is the North Carolina guys’ backyard. We’re a Sandusky, Ohio-based team, so it means a lot to myself and the team owners.”
Heim finished second, 2.398 seconds behind, followed by Dean Thompson in third, Stage Two winner Carson Hocevar (43 laps led) in fourth and Grant Enfinger in fifth.
“We were a short-run truck tonight,” said Heim, who led a race-high 49 laps. “It’s kind of been the story of the year. Maybe it’s something on my end that we’re doing wrong. It feels like we can power off better than everyone in the field but then 20 laps later we just fall.
“Charlotte had been one of my worst race tracks. I’ve been hard on myself to finish better here. We finished second here in ARCA twice and second tonight. Maybe one day I’ll get it done.”
Thompson and Enfinger also registered top-five finishes earlier in the day in the General Tire 150 ARCA Menards Series race.
“I was pretty upset about the ARCA race but I’m pretty over the moon about this,” said Thompson of his first career top-five finish in the Truck Series. “Ben had it locked down there. Our guys put together an absolute rocket ship today. I can’t thank them enough.”
Rhodes averaged 116.80 mph in completing the 134 laps in 1 hour, 43 minutes and 10 seconds. Five caution flags consumed 32 laps, with five leaders exchanging the lead 13 times.
Racing continues this weekend with the Alsco Uniforms 300 NASCAR Xfinity Series race Saturday at noon (FS1, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio) and the Coca-Cola 600 NASCAR Cup Series race on Sunday at 6 p.m. (Fox, PRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).