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Ben Rhodes takes the win in the Pinty’s Truck Race at Bristol

By Rod Mullins
Augusta Free Press

Ben Rhodes NASCAR
Photo courtesy Bristol Motor Speedway.

BRISTOL, Tenn. –  Ben Rhodes was on a mission Saturday night.

Prior to the start of the Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol Motor Speedway, Rhodes said he would rather race on dirt than the concrete.

To prove his point, the defending series champion in the Camping World Truck Series backed up his bold statement, leading 95 laps of the 150 lap feature enroute to the win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series feature.

It almost didn’t happen that way.

Rhodes’ failed to bring his truck to the pits at the end of the first stage on Lap 40 after missing his entrance to pit road. Forced to pit after winning Stage 2, Rhodes restarted 13th on Lap 91 and worked his way forward with the aid of four cautions in the final 60-lap stage.

“I had to go back up there and earn the spot back. I’m really proud of all their effort.” replied Rhodes. “My crew gave me such an awesome Tundra this weekend that I wasn’t going to let them down,” said Rhodes, who led 95 laps and won the first two stages while on his way to his first victory of the year and the sixth of his career.

One lap after the final restart on Lap 146 of 150, Rhodes put the nose of his No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota into Turn 1 then slid to the outside of third-place finisher John Hunter Nemechek and then focused on Hocevar.

Rhodes and Hocevar were the only two drivers credited with leading laps. The driver of the No. 42 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet grabbed the top spot after restarting fourth on Lap 91 and held it until Rhodes passed him for the win.

In hindsight, Hocevar said he could have done a better job defending against the decisive pass.

“Either ripped the top or crashed him,” Hocevar said of his alternatives. “I hate saying that, but it’s part of this racing, right? I just couldn’t compete with him. He just had better (fresher) tires, and he was the fastest truck all day. I was just trying to hold on.”

Hocevar admitted that Rhodes “slide-jobbed” him. “I should have prepared for it, crossed him over and raced him really hard. Second just sucks,” commented Hocevar. “ It’s terrible, especially being that close.”

The race marked the NASCAR national series debut of reigning USAC National Midget champion Buddy Kofoid, who started 32nd after his No. 51 Toyota overheated during the first qualifying heat earlier in the afternoon. After working his way forward, Kofoid ran as high as third before spinning in Turn 2 and collecting in the ensuing wreck were Ty Majeski, who saw a probable top-five effort go awry, and Derek Kraus.

The race took on a “Twilight Zone” tone on Lap 96.  Austin Wayne Self nudged the Chevrolet of  Matt DiBenedetto after the latter had passed Self. The front bumper of Self’s Silverado locked with the rear bumper of DiBenedetto’s Chevy, and the two drivers could not power them apart.

It took a red flag and a handful of track workers to separate the trucks. That incident ruined the race for both drivers, but the subsequent restart on Lap 106 put Rhodes on his path to the eventual victory. By the time caution flew again on Lap 112, he had climbed to fifth and was well on his way to the front.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Race

Second annual Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt
Top 15 finishers
Bristol Motor Speedway
Saturday, April 16, 2022

  1. Ben Rhodes, Toyota, 150.
  2. Carson Hocevar, Chevrolet, 150.
  3. John Hunter Nemechek, Toyota, 150.
  4. Parker Kligerman, Chevrolet, 150.
  5. Christian Eckes, Toyota, 150.
  6. Joey Logano(i), Ford, 150.
  7. Chase Elliott(i), Chevrolet, 150.
  8. Grant Enfinger, Chevrolet, 150.
  9. Matt Crafton, Toyota, 150.
  10. Zane Smith, Ford, 150.
  11. Stewart Friesen, Toyota, 150.
  12. Colby Howard, Chevrolet, 150.
  13. Chase Purdy, Toyota, 150.
  14. Austin Dillon(i), Chevrolet, 150.
  15. Tanner Gray, Ford, 150.

Average Speed of Race Winner: 45.957 mph.
Time of Race: 1 Hrs, 37 Mins, 55 Secs. Margin of Victory:  0.824 Seconds.
Caution Flags: 8 for 43 laps.
Lead Changes: 3 among 2 drivers.
Lap Leaders: J. Logano(i) 0;B. Rhodes 1-91;C. Hocevar 92-146;B. Rhodes 147-150.

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