LOUISVILLE, KY (September 7th, 2014) – 17-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, native Ben Rhodes started from the pole position, racing his way to a fourth-place finish in the “Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140” at Greenville Pickens Speedway (SC) on Saturday, September 6th, earning the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) championship. The NASCAR Next driver picked up his first NASCAR championship during his rookie season in the NKNPSE, driving the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet Impala with Turner Scott Motorsports.
Rhodes entered the 15th race of the 16-race season with a 65-point lead in the season point standings, only needing to finish 13th or better to clinch the championship. After turning the fastest lap times in the two practice sessions during the day, Rhodes seemed on his way when he drove to his sixth 21 Means 21 pole position of the year. However, a mistake forced him to pit road for a drive-through penalty after NASCAR officials penalized him for jumping the start of the race. Rhodes was able to stay on the lead lap, but was nearly three-quarters of a lap behind the lead, running 22nd.
Knowing what was at stake, Rhodes rocketed back up through the field to seventh at the lap 70 halfway break, and after the restart, was able to work his way to third at lap 93. 10 laps later he moved into second and rode behind the leader until a caution flew late in the race. On the final restart with 12 laps to go, Rhodes lost a few spots on the high side, settling into fourth, keeping his No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet in that position through until the checkered flag flew. The solid run back to the front secured the championship for the rookie driver.
With one race left in the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season, Rhodes leads the championship standings by 62 points, officially clinching the championship (most points possible during a single race is 48). Rhodes also leads the Rookie of the Year standings by 36 points.
What happened at the start of the race? “I had a misunderstanding at the start of the race. I went before the flagman threw the green flag and I had to serve a drive through penalty. It was a mistake on my part.”
Did that mistake change your approach to the race? “I was really mad at myself for that, but I had to refocus and get back to the front. Once I got up there I thought about racing for the win again, but the car wasn’t as good during the second half as it was during the first. When the caution came out at the end of the race and I had to restart on the outside lane I knew I needed to just protect the points.”
How does it feel to win the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East championship? “Honestly, after the race I was still a little frustrated I made the mistake at the start. I wanted to win the race and get the championship that way, but it just didn’t work out. I was happy though to get out of the car and see my crew chief Mark McFarland and celebrate with my whole Turner Scott Motorsports team. My guys put in many hours at the shop and at the race track to give me a great Chevrolet all year, and it paid off. I have to thank Alpha Energy Solutions, Alliance Comfort Systems, Kentucky National Guard, Park Community Credit Union, and Refrigerant Rescue for all their help to make this happen. We can now go to Dover (DE) in a few weeks and not worry about anything other than getting my seventh pole and sixth victory of the year.”
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East – Race 15 of 16
Saturday, September 6th, 2014
“Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140”
Greenville Pickens Speedway (0.500-mile asphalt oval) – Easley, South Carolina
Laps Completed (Led): 140 (0)
Championship Points Position: 1st (by 62 points) – clinched the championship
Rookie of the Year Points Position: 1st (by 36 points)
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Friday, September 26th, 2014
Dover International Speedway (1.0-mile concrete oval) – Dover, Delaware
Online and Social Media
Jason “Stix” Buckley
STIX FX Entertainment
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