Ben Rhodes wins two in a row at Daytona in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series – The season opener and the Daytona Road Course.
Wrapping up a perfect pair of race outings at Daytona International Speedway, Ben Rhodes answers his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory on the oval last week with a dramatic win Friday night on the infield road course.
It took three overtime starts to secure the victory over 2020 series champion Sheldon Creed, but Rhodes’ work in the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota marked only the third time in series history a driver has opened the season with back-to-back wins. And it marked the 200th victory for Toyota in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Rhodes, 23, of Louisville, Ky., crossed the finish line 0.320-seconds ahead of Creed – the running order frozen, however, when a caution – one of ten cautions on the night – came out with a half-lap remaining in overtime.
The Rest of the Best
John Hunter Nemechek, who won Stage 1 and led 14 laps on the night, finished third. Todd Gilliland, who started 31st, rallied to an impressive fourth-place finish and Riley Herbst rounded out the top-five.
Matt Crafton, Derek Kraus, Kaz Grala, Timmy Hill, and Christian Eckes completed the top-ten. Rookie Hailie Deegan was running in the top-ten until a spin on the final lap of overtime. She finished 28th.
“Unbelievable, I don’t even have words for it,” Rhodes said after climbing out of this truck just below the flag-stand on the frontstretch. “I don’t even know what to say, this is so cool.
“I just have to thank my team. The Bombardier Tundra was fast all day. ThorSport Racing gave me a truck that handled this year and we were fast. Rich (Lushes) is a really good crew chief. It’s good to be paired up with him and all of the guys on my team. I’m just thrilled. I don’t know what to say. I’ve been on cloud nine all week, so it’s above that. I’m just so happy.”
Certainly, Rhodes was in a celebratory mood following the race, but it was a tense finish. He was about 50-yards shy of the flag-stand on the first overtime period when a caution came out extending the race instead of earning him the trophy then.
Sheldon Creed Falls Short by One
He and Creed – who led a race best 17 laps – dueled for the lead multiple times in the closing laps – often exchanging the point during the infield series of turns of the road course.
“Never fun being the first loser,” Creed said. “But my guys brought a fast truck and I felt like we were on top of the strategy there going to slicks early. Man, got hit by a lapper there leading and I don’t think that did us any favors and got to the lead, saving fuel and then worked way back to the lead got pushed out the way on the restart, just doing everything I could there. Wished it could have stayed green.”
The race started under wet conditions with teams having to decide when the track was dry enough to switch from rain tires to slicks or “dry” tires. Nemechek was the early leader – pacing the field for the opening 14 laps until his No. 4 Toyota suffered an oil pressure and fuel pick-up problem, leaving the Tundra on track and necessitating a caution. Later he ran out of gas and at one point was a lap down to the leaders before racing back to the front in the closing laps.
Rhodes had to deal with Creed and then ultimately Nemechek’s comeback as well, to earn his fifth career victory.
“It was the most stressful race of my life for sure,” said Rhodes. “There’s been stressful races, but this was really stressful. I thought it was going to be taken away from us for sure.
“I’m not sure if they showed me throwing my hands up, I hope they didn’t. Hope they didn’t listen to the radio either. I was a little frustrated. Gosh, it all worked out now. So stressful, so stressful. I don’t think I’ve had one that stressful before.”
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series next race is March 5 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (9 p.m. ET on FS1, PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race – BrakeBest Brake Pads 159 at Daytona Presented by O’Reilly
DAYTONA Road Course
Daytona Beach, Florida
Friday, February 19, 2021
1. (1) Ben Rhodes, Toyota, 51.
2. (5) Sheldon Creed, Chevrolet, 51.
3. (4) John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 51.
4. (32) Todd Gilliland, Ford, 51.
5. (25) Riley Herbst(i), Ford, 51.
6. (9) Matt Crafton, Toyota, 51.
7. (31) Derek Kraus, Toyota, 51.
8. (24) Kaz Grala(i), Chevrolet, 51.
9. (34) Timmy Hill(i), Chevrolet, 51.
10. (16) Christian Eckes, Toyota, 51.
11. (30) Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 51.
12. (8) Chandler Smith #, Toyota, 51.
13. (37) Camden Murphy, Chevrolet, 51.
14. (3) Carson Hocevar #, Chevrolet, 51.
15. (14) Austin Wayne Self, Chevrolet, 51.
16. (7) Codie Rohrbaugh, Chevrolet, 51.
17. (38) Dawson Cram, Chevrolet, 51.
18. (19) Johnny Sauter, Toyota, 51.
19. (28) Tate Fogleman, Chevrolet, 51.
20. (33) Tanner Gray, Ford, 51.
21. (26) Tyler Ankrum, Chevrolet, 51.
22. (29) Chase Purdy #, Chevrolet, 51.
23. (22) Parker Chase, Toyota, 51.
24. (27) Timothy Peters, Chevrolet, 51.
25. (21) Brett Moffitt, Chevrolet, 51.
26. (12) Raphael Lessard, Chevrolet, 51.
27. (13) Bobby Reuse, Chevrolet, 50.
28. (23) Hailie Deegan #, Ford, 50.
29. (35) Jett Noland, Chevrolet, Accident, 49.
30. (15) Danny Bohn, Toyota, 49.
31. (2) Ryan Truex, Chevrolet, 48.
32. (39) Norm Benning, Chevrolet, 48.
33. (20) Austin Hill, Toyota, 48.
34. (6) Cory Roper, Ford, Fuel Pressure, 47.
35. (17) Jennifer Jo Cobb, Chevrolet, 47.
36. (40) Lawless Alan, Toyota, 45.
37. (36) Sam Mayer, Chevrolet, Accident, 41.
38. (18) Jason White, Chevrolet, 41.
39. (10) Spencer Boyd, Chevrolet, Transmission, 38.
40. (11) Zane Smith, Chevrolet, Accident, 35.
The BrakeBest Brake Pads 159 Stats
Average Speed of Race Winner: 67.044 mph.
Time of Race: Two Hrs, 44 Mins, 46 Secs. Margin of Victory: Under Caution Seconds.
Caution Flags: Ten for 20 laps.
Lead Changes: Nine among six drivers.
Lap Leaders: J. Nemechek 1-14;S. Creed 15-21;R. Lessard 22-26;S. Creed 27-33;R. Herbst(i) 34;S. Friesen 35;B. Rhodes 36-41;S. Creed 42-44;B. Rhodes 45-51.
Leaders Summary (Driver, Times Lead, Laps Led): Sheldon Creed three times for 17 laps; John Hunter Nemechek one time for 14 laps; Ben Rhodes two times for 13 laps; Raphael Lessard one time for five laps; Stewart Friesen one time for one lap; Riley Herbst(i) one time for one lap.
Stage 1 Top-Ten: 4,99,18,45,40,88,13,16,2,17
Stage 2 Top-Ten: 24,02,21,22,38,88,1,2,23,15