LOUISVILLE, KY (September 20th, 2014) – In his debut on the 1.5-mile Kentucky Speedway on Friday, September 19th, 17-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, native Ben Rhodes drove his No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet with Turner Scott Motorsports to the top spot in the “Zloop 150” ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards 100-lap race, looking to earn the first major victory for a Kentucky native at the track. However, with just 14 laps remaining, the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East champion was involved in an incident battling to get back to the front, damaging his car and ending his race.
Rhodes, who was making his second-career ARCA start and debut on his home state superspeedway, started the night race in the fifth position, quickly working his way towards the front. By the 13th lap, he was running second, looking to take the lead when a caution flag came out, setting off a chain of strategy pit stop calls by his Turner Scott Motorsports team. Rhodes restarted 13th at lap 24, and quickly picked off spots to get back to second by lap 45. A lap later he took the lead as the caution flew, and after another pit stop for fuel, he led the field back to the green flag, setting sail to an over five-second lead.
Rhodes pitted for four tires and fuel during another caution period while several others stayed on the track. Restarting 12th with 22 laps remaining, he maneuvered his way to fourth in four laps, and a few laps later while side by side trying to take the third position, close racing sent his Chevrolet sideways and into the wall. Rhodes was credited with a 27th-place finish.
Ben Rhodes Quotes
What happened in the wreck that ended your race? “On that restart I knew I needed to get back to the front as quick as possible to get in clean air. When I got to the No. 52, I saw the leaders were getting away from us a bit so I wanted to get by to give me time to run them down before the end of the race. We went into the corner side by side. He started to come down to apex the corner and as he got closer it took the air off of my quarter panel. It made the car really loose and I spun out.
“I think Matt (Tifft, driver of the No. 52) could have given me a little more room, but I could have been a little more patient. Matt is a friend of mine and we are both learning how the aero affects us on the bigger tracks. It was just a racing deal.”
Evaluate your debut on your home track? “I had a blast finally being able to race on the big track at Kentucky Speedway. We had a great race and the strategy almost paid off in the end. I was disappointed I couldn’t drive the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet into victory lane for my fans, sponsors, and team, but it was cool to lead laps in my first superspeedway race. I did learn a lot on about racing on a big track like this. I was telling everyone after it I wanted to come back Saturday and get in a car to drive in the (NASCAR) Nationwide Series race.”
What was it like racing in front of your home state fans? “Hearing the fans cheer during the driver introductions pumped me up right before getting in my car. I was already focused on getting to the front, but that gave me extra motivation to keep them cheering during the race. I really appreciate the support from everyone that came out to see my superspeedway debut. Hopefully I will be back here next year to race in either the Camping World Truck Series or Xfinity (Nationwide) Series, and we will try again to win.”
Ben Rhodes is sponsored by Alpha Energy Solutions, Alliance Comfort Systems, Kentucky National Guard, Park Community Credit Union, and Refrigerant Rescue.
ARCA Racing Series presented by Menards
Friday, September 19th, 2014
Kentucky Speedway (1.5-mile asphalt oval) – Sparta, Kentucky
Finish: 27th (out: accident)
Laps Completed (Led): 86 (26)
Next Up (NKNPSE)
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Friday, September 26th, 2014
Dover International Speedway (1.0-mile concrete oval) – Dover, Delaware
Note: series finale; Rhodes has already clinched the NKNPSE championship and rookie of the year titles
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Jason “Stix” Buckley
STIX FX Entertainment
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