ROSSBURG, Ohio – Though he’ll openly admit he’s the furthest thing from a “dirt-track guy,” Ben Rhodes set the fastest time in qualifying Wednesday afternoon at Eldora Speedway and scored his second pole of the season.
Rhodes, the 19th driver of 39 to take time in two-lap time trials, posted a lap of 20.737 seconds (86.801 mph) around the Tony Stewart-owned, half-mile dirt oval with his No. 41 Carolina Nut Co. Ford F-150, earning his fourth-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series pole in his 63rd start.
“I’m not really sure where that one came from, to be honest with you!” Rhodes laughed. “You need some experience to be good here, and I’ve got a couple Eldora truck races under my belt, but other than that I’ve got nothing. I feel like things are finally starting to click for me, as far as racing on the dirt goes.
“I’m happy with being on the pole, but we still have a long way to go yet tonight,” he added. “I haven’t finished the last two races here, so that’s the primary goal … is just to get to the checkered flag in one piece.”
Though Rhodes gets the pole award for the Eldora Dirt Derby, it doesn’t necessarily mean he will start from the pole position for the 150-lap feature that caps off the night.
Rhodes will lead the field to green in the first of five qualifying heat races later in the program. The finishing order from those heats will set the finalized starting grid for the main event.
“If you’d asked me yesterday when we unloaded if I thought we were going to have a shot at the pole, let alone winning, I’d have said you were crazy,” noted Rhodes. “These guys have worked their butts off. I didn’t like the high side at all, so I told the guys I was going to run up there … and the first lap, I was like, ‘Nope!’ and bailed on it. Once I got back to the bottom, I found some grip and really liked it.
“We need some more forward drive for the heat, but I’m really happy with this right now.”
Logan Seavey, who was the third driver to take time and led the lot all the way until Rhodes bested his time, knew exactly where he lost ground with his No. 51 Mobil 1 Toyota Tundra.
“If you’d told me yesterday that we were going to qualify second, I’d have been super excited, but after that lap I’m pretty bummed,” said Seavey, who qualified second-fastest and will start on the pole of the second heat race. “I left a lot out there in turns three and four … I didn’t get through that section of the track very well, even though we had a good draw and went out early.
“I’m excited to hopefully go out and win my heat race so we can start on the outside of the front row for the feature, but I absolutely feel like we should have shot the pole,” he added. “I got through one and two so well … I just ran up the track too high in three and four and scrubbed off too much speed. If I’d moved down six feet and kept the truck a little straighter, I think it’d be a different result.”
Tyler Dippel, Grant Enfinger and Stewart Friesen completed the top five on the speed charts and will start first in their respective heat races.
Sheldon Creed, Todd Gilliland, Chris Windom, defending Eldora Dirt Derby winner Matt Crafton and Cup Series regular Ryan Newman completed the top-10 in qualifying.
Notables buried deep in the rundown included Tuesday practice leader Myatt Snider (15th), Chase Briscoe (18th), Max McLaughlin (22nd), Ty Dillon (27th), Justin Haley (29th), points leader Johnny Sauter (34th) and Tanner Thorson (37th), who spun on his first qualifying lap.
To view the full qualifying rundown, advance to the next page.