Ben Rhodes – 2016 Daytona International Speedway Preview

From ThorSport Racing PR:

 

Ben Rhodes, No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Daytona International Speedway – NextEra Energy Resources 250
Race No. 1 of 23
 
Team Information:
Crew Chief: Kevin Bellicourt
Manufacturer: Toyota
Engine: Triad Racing Technologies
 
Sounding Off – Ben Rhodes:
What are you most looking forward to this season?
“I’m looking forward to just being in the truck every week. Last year, it was really hard because being in and out for 10 races and watching everybody progress and get better and better – that was really hard for me. I did get advice off the track a lot from Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick – all my teammates. They really helped me off the track, but I was never able to apply it. It made it really difficult to just jump in the car after a month and half off, so now that I have every week – or once we get going in the season every week – and I have a crew chief (Kevin Bellicourt) that I’m really, really good friends with. Every time I go up to Sandusky (Ohio) where the team is at, we stay together. I stay at his house with his family and we’re practically like best friends, so I think that’s really going to lend itself to some great finishes this year.”
 
How do you distinguish yourself from the other young drivers?
“I’ve learned that it just comes down to on-track success. You’ve got to be a better driver than those guys or you’ve got to have more success, and the best way to do that is surround yourself with a good team. If you aren’t with the best people you can communicate with, everybody that puts pride into their work and is 100 percent dedicated, you’re not going to go far in this sport. You have to have the best people around you, because it does take a team – it’s more of a team sport than what people realize and that’s why I’m proud and very happy to be with ThorSport Racing for 23 races this year. I have Kevin Bellicourt as my crew chief now and I think it’s going to be a really good year for that reason. Hopefully we’ll separate ourselves from the pack, and go out there and win a championship and we’ll be on the poster next year.”
 
News & Notes:
  • Chassis Information…The No. 41 ThorSport Racing team will utilize chassis No. 24 for Friday night’s NextEra Energy Resources 250 at Daytona International Speedway (DIS). This is the same chassis Rhodes’ teammate, Cameron Hayley piloted at DIS and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway in 2015, and was rebuilt for the 2016 season. This particular chassis has a track-best start of 14th (Daytona) and a track-best finish of sixth (Talladega).
  • Daytona Debut… Although Rhodes has four previous NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) starts to his credit, the 18-year-old will make his DIS debut in Friday night’s 100-lap season-opener. In fact, Rhodes first laps around the 2.5-mile superspeedway will be during Truck Series practice on Thursday afternoon.
  • Calling The Shots… Kevin Bellicourt will call the shots for Ben Rhodes in his rookie season in the NCWTS. Bellicourt was Rhodes car chief at Turner Scott Motorsports when the Louisville, KY native won the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) championship. Furthermore, in his first year as crew chief, Bellicourt won the 2015 NKNPSE Championship title with driver, William Byron. 2016 will mark his first season with TSR and his first full-time season in the NCWTS.
  • Ridin’ With Rhodes… Rhodes’ No. 41 Toyota will feature a special silver scheme at DIS, promoting the NCWTS Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway on April 2. In January, it was announced that Alpha Energy Solutions will sponsor both Truck Series events at the half-mile paperclip for the next three years.
  • Birthday Candles… Rhodes will celebrate his 19th birthday on Sunday, Feb. 21. Happy early birthday Ben!
  • Eye In the Sky… NASCAR Sprint Cup Series spotter, Kevin Hamlin will be Rhodes spotter for the 2016 NCWTS season. Hamlin currently spots for Kasey Kahne. 
  • What’s In A Number… 41 was the number Rhodes piloted in the NKNPSE in 2013 and 2014. With six poles, five wins, 13 top-five and 18 top-10 finishes across 23 starts, including a 2014 championship title, and Rookie of the Year honors, Rhodes hopes to keep the success of the number going in 2016 as he competes for wins, and a NCWTS championship title.
  • To The Point… Rhodes No. 41 Toyota Tundra will carry the points from Cameron Hayley’s No. 13 Toyota Tundra in 2015. Therefore, Rhodes will be guaranteed into the 32-truck field for the first five NCWTS events in 2016.
  • Rookie Stripe… Rhodes, who has made four career NCWTS starts since 2014, will compete for Sunoco Rookie of the Year Honors in 2016 for ThorSport Racing.
  • 2015 Recap…The 18-year-old Louisville, KY native made 10 NASCAR Xfinity Series (NXS) starts for Jr. Motorsports, earning a seventh-place finish in his series debut at Iowa Speedway in Newton, and his first-career NXS pole at Elkhart Lake, Wisc. Amassing two top-10 finishes, Rhodes completed 1612 of 1722 laps attempted (93.6%), and had an average start of 12.5, and an average finish of 21.0.
  • 2014 – A Championship Season… Rhodes earned his first-career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) pole at Daytona International Speedway’s 0.370-mile track (February), and earned his first-career NKNPSE victory at Greenville (SC) Pickens Speedway (March). In 16 NKNPSE starts, the Louisville, KY native led 778 laps en route to six poles, five wins, 11 top-five and 13 top-10 finishes. Rhodes also became the only driver in series history to accomplish a championship title, Rookie of the Year, and Most Popular driver in one season.     
Rhodes Career NCWTS stats:
  • Starts: 4 (2014)
  • First full-time season: 2016
  • Top-5 Finishes: 1 (Phoenix, 2014)
  • Top-10 Finishes: 3
  • Laps Completed: 751 of 782 (96.0%)
  • Laps Led: 0
  • First start: Martinsville (8th)
  • Best start: 4th; Phoenix
  • Best finish: 5th; Phoenix
  • Avg. Start: 8.5
  • Avg. Finish: 11.0
Race Information:
Date: Friday, Feb. 19
Time: 7:30pm ET
Track: 2.5-mile superspeedway
Distance: 100 laps/250 miles
 
About Alpha Energy Solutions:
Alpha Energy Solutions is a commercial and industrial service provider specializing in building automation, indoor energy solutions, chillers, boilers, electrical, equipment rental, food equipment service, piping, plumbing, sheet metal, refrigeration, insulation, and part sales.  With more than 200 service personnel, Alpha is one of the largest self-performing service providers. Alpha’s highly skilled technicians operate quickly and efficiently in all areas of system maintenance and management. As members of the community they serve, Alpha’s associates are committed to job quality and customer satisfaction. To learn more, visit www.alphamechanicalservice.com
 
About ThorSport Racing:
ThorSport Racing, based in a state-of-the-art 100,000-square-foot facility in Sandusky, Ohio, is the longest-tenured NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team. ThorSport Racing, which has competed in the NCWTS since 1996, will run the No. 88 Menards Toyota Tundra driven by two-time NCWTS drivers’ champion Matt Crafton, the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota Tundra driven by Ben Rhodes, and the No. 98 Safelite/CURB Records Toyota Tundra driven by Rico Abreu in 2016.
 
ThorSport Racing Media Contact:
Jessica O’Brien
Phone: 803-240-5807
 
Ben Rhodes Motorsports, Inc. Media Contact:
Jason “Stix” Buckley
Phone: 704-519-5528

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