Ben Rhodes Hits The Jackpot In Las Vegas With First-Career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Winby Hunter Thomas October 1, 2017
LAS VEGAS, Nev. – Ben Rhodes won the jackpot at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Saturday night as he held off Christopher Bell in the Las Vegas 350 to capture his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.
On Saturday night, Rhodes pulled off a daring move for the lead on a restart with just seven laps to go, and in the closing laps, he held off Kyle Busch Motorsports’ Christopher Bell. Coming to the checkered flag, Bell just barely got to the inside of Rhodes’ ThorSport Racing No. 27 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota, but he just wasn’t able to pull off the victory as he was edged by 0.066 seconds.
“I used every play in my playbook,” Rhodes said. “I knew if I could keep him close to me, he couldn’t break the bubble. Every time he tried to break the bubble and get far away, he’d suck right up to the 27 Safelite Toyota Tundra and be right there on our bumper. So I had to keep him at a distance and that was most nervous thing I think I’ve ever done in my life.”
Rhodes, a 20-year-old from Louisville, Kentucky, led 20 laps and finally won a series race in his 45th career start. He had come close many times before, earning eight top-five finishes prior to this weekend. Saturday night’s win now guarantees the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion a spot in the second round of the NASCAR Playoffs.
“I never thought it would come,” Rhodes said about his first win. “It seemed like every time we were there something would happen and our 27 Safelite Toyota Tundra was on point tonight. We might not have been the fastest truck, but we pulled it off at the end and it matters. We’re in the round of six now and we are going to Homestead. This team just showed that it deserves to be in the Playoffs after it’s been so close.”
As for Bell in the Kyle Busch Motorsports No. 4 DC Solar Toyota, he entered the weekend coming off a win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, so he will compete in the second round of the NASCAR Playoffs as well. Throughout the night on Saturday, Bell led a race high of 64 laps. He was out in front of the field on three occasions during the 146-lap race. The runner-up finish is Bell’s 16th top-10 of the season.
“Our DC Solar Tundra was excellent,” Bell said. “Once the sun went down it was out there for a while. Just – I don’t know these trucks are so aero sensitive, it’s a lot of who does the best job of restarting and who has the best push. I just didn’t get it done on the last restart and it was frustrating for my guys. I’m happy for Ben (Rhodes), that was a cool win for him. He’s been long overdue for a win, and that was cool to race him that hard to get a win. I’m just upset for myself and bummed for my team, they did an excellent job. They did their part, brought a really fast Tundra to win.”
Brad Keselowski Racing’s Chase Briscoe crossed the finish line in third. Briscoe won Stage 1, and he led 40 laps during the race. Rounding out the top-five was Briscoe’s teammate, Austin Cindric and Kaz Grala.
Completing the top-10 was Cody Coughlin, Matt Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek, Grant Enfinger and Johnny Sauter.
During the race there were six cautions for 32 laps. Three of the cautions were for multi-truck accidents.
On the first lap, the field bunched up on the backstretch, and Stewart Friesen got into the back of Myatt Snider, sending the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver hard into the inside wall.
The largest accident occurred on a restart to kick off Stage 2. Austin Cindric got into the back of Johnny Sauter and sent him spinning across the track. With nowhere to go, Noah Gragson, Kaz Grala, Stewart Friesen, Justin Haley and Travis Pastrana were involved.
On Lap 57, Austin Cindric and Grant Enfinger brought out the fourth caution of the night.
Bell currently leads the series standings by 47 points over Rhodes. Crafton is in third, 51 points back.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will visit Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, October 14 for the Fred’s 250 Powered by Coca-Cola. The NASCAR Playoff race will broadcast live on FOX and the Motor Racing Network (MRN) at 1 p.m. ET.
Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images