Ben Rhodes Looking For A Kentucky Repeat

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Ben Rhodes celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series race at Kentucky Speedway last year. (Kent Steele Photo)

SPARTA, Ky – ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes comes into Thursday’s Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway as the defending race winner.

Rhodes’ No. 99 Carolina Nut Ford has been plagued with tough times throughout the current campaign. When it looks like a great run is coming, something unexpected happens.

With Kentucky Speedway considered his home track, Rhodes thinks there isn’t a better time to be home.

“I like the challenge the truck series presents, and I think we do a good job with it,” said Rhodes. “It can be frustrating, but it can also be fun and rewarding when you outrun the other guys. I feel good about the Kentucky race, I do, I got the confidence, my team does a good job. Typically, our best races are on half-mile tracks. And for bad things to happen, it is really going to set us back in points.

“If we just don’t have any issues tonight, on pit road, get caught up in someone else’s messes, we should have a really good night. We should get into the top five, top-10. Usually if we are not in top five or top-10, we are caught up in a mess.”

One year ago, Louisville, Ky., native Rhodes scored his second NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series victory in front of his home crowd. A late gamble in the pits on a fuel-only stop gave him the track position he needed to lead the final 24 laps and hold off Stewart Friesen for the win.

“When I got the win here last year everyone was overflowing with emotion,” said Rhodes. “They were all happy, but I was angry. I was happy, but angry at the same time because it took so long for me to get the win. Kentucky is a special place; it holds a special place in my heart. Certainly, the last win is the most special, but Kentucky just holds a special place in my heart. I saw my first NASCAR Cup race here and pass the place every time I go up to the ThorSport shop.”

So far in 2019, the 22-year-old ThorSport Racing driver has finished runner-up three times at Martinsville, Kansas and Iowa. He’s had two additional top-five performances and eight top-10 finishes in the 12 races run.

He now sits fifth in points and currently would be the final driver in the Playoffs on points if Ross Chastain is able to work his way into the top-20 in points.

A win Thursday would make Rhodes’ odds of making the Playoffs much easier.

“The stage has been set at this race for us here at Kentucky,” Rhodes said. “We have been leading multiple times this year and something happen. Whether it be mechanical, pit road, or something else, we have just been set back. I been coming here for a very, very long time, I have so many memories of this place when I raced Bandoleros and Legends. I hope to make another memory tonight. Kentucky is special, it holds a place other tracks don’t.”