LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 2nd, 2013) – In October 2012, Louisville, Kentucky, native Ben Rhodes entered his first “Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300” NASCAR Whelen All-American Series event at Martinsville Speedway (VA). With 80 drivers on hand for the event, Rhodes, in his first season of Late Model Stock racing, qualified his way into the field in the 11th position, racing his way within the top six all race, including leading laps, before getting knocked into the wall late, finishing 14th.
Now, the 16-year-old NASCAR Next driver heads back to the track looking for redemption in the 2013 event, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, October 5th and 6th, driving the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Ford with Hawk-McCall Motorsports.
Rhodes feels confident going into this year’s event, and is also looking to apply things he learned from last year’s race to this year.
“We had a great car last year,” said Rhodes. “At the end of the race there was a lot of pushing and shoving, and that put us back to around 10th. I got up to eighth and there was a caution that set up a restart where we were able to choose the inside or outside line. My car rolled really well on the outside and Lee (McCall, crew chief) left the decision up to me on where to restart. I decided the outside and that ended up being a mistake because they made it three wide and shoved me into the wall. I got back to 14th, but it killed our good run. I know what to do this year if that happens again.”
Even though Rhodes and McCall worked together prior to the 2012 event, that race marked the debut for Rhodes under the newly-formed Hawk-McCall Motorsports team. In total, Rhodes has raced 21 Late Model Stock events under the HMM banner with an impressive five victories, 13 top-five finishes, and 16 top-10 finishes.
“We have had a great year together,” said Rhodes. “We have been able to go to victory lane five times and we have been in contention for wins in most races. Even the ones where we finished outside the top 10 Lee and the Hawk-McCall Motorsports team gave me a fast car we were able to be right there until something happened. We are ready to go back to Martinsville and see what we can do.”
Getting to victory lane in one of the most prestigious Late Model Stock events of the year is a big challenge, especially since around 90 drivers participated in the recent test at the track. During the test, Rhodes turned one of the faster lap times, an unofficial 20.32-second lap (transponders were not used by any racer), but anything can happen this weekend.
“During the test there was a wreck that damaged a few cars, so we have to be careful not to get involved in something like that during practice. We have to have a great qualifying effort to give us a good starting position in the heat races, and then we need to race our way into the feature. If we can do that again this year, then we will focus on the race and see if we can drive the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Ford into victory lane.”
Practice for the “Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300” will take place on Saturday, October 5th, at 1pm Eastern, which will be followed by qualifying practice, which will set the starting order for the four 20-lap heat races that will take place on Sunday at 12pm Eastern. The top eight from each of the heat races will advance (positions 1 – 32) and will be joined by the top-10 drivers from the 20-lap last chance race (positions 33 – 42) in the feature, which will roll off later in the afternoon. For full schedule and ticket information, visit the track’s website at www.martinsvillespeedway.com. Updates on Ben’s progress throughout the weekend can be followed on his Twitter at www.twitter.com/benrhodes.
For more information on Ben Rhodes, including media availability, contact Jason “Stix” Buckley of STIX FX Entertainment at (704) 519-5528 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and make sure to keep up to date on his racing career at the new website location benrhodes.com, like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/benrhodesinc, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/benrhodes as well as Instagram at www.instagram.com/benrhodes.
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