LOUISVILLE, Ky. (September 3rd, 2013) – Louisville, Kentucky, native and NASCAR Next driver Ben Rhodes made the most of the Labor Day weekend by racing in two NASCAR-sanctioned events at two different tracks. On Saturday, August 31st, the 16-year-old raced in the Whelen All-American Series “Bobby Isaac Memorial” at Hickory Motor Speedway (NC), racing strong into the top 10 until a parts failure ended his race. However, he rebounded on Monday, September 2nd, by racing to a sixth-place finish in the K&N Pro Series East “Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 140” at Greenville Pickens Speedway (SC).
Saturday, Rhodes with his Hawk-McCall Motorsports crew qualified the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Ford in the 22nd position for the 150-lap race. Unfortunately, on lap three, Rhodes wasn’t able to avoid a wreck in front of him, ripping off the left front bumper and fender. He was able to continue, working his way up to 13th by the one-third mark despite his car’s handling being off and bouncing off the wall. Major body damage occurred on lap 54 when a multi-car crash occurred in front of him, ripping the entire left side off the car.
“The first part of the race was very eventful for us,” said Rhodes. “Starting that far back we had to try and avoid a few wrecks and we just couldn’t get by without some damage. Also we think we had at least one bad tire on the right side because the car was sliding around like I was driving on oil. When the big wreck happened and it took off the entire side of the car I thought the car was going to be too damaged to continue, but Lee (McCall, crew chief) and the Hawk-McCall Motorsports guys did a great job getting it patched up as much as possible so I could continue.”
Rhodes was able to stay on the lead lap while his crew changed right side tires after his contact with the wall, sending him back on the track at the back of the field. When the field took the green flag once again, Rhodes was one of the fastest cars on the track, making his way up to 16th by the two-thirds mark. With just 40 laps to go, he was ninth and looking to pick up more positions when three wheel studs broke on the left rear, ending his race.
“It was kind of frustrating ending the race after we rebounded like that. I think if I would have qualified just a little better we would have been in front of those wrecks and contended for the win. The last time we were here we raced our way to the front from the back, so you just never know what will happen.”
For a post-race video recap with Rhodes and McCall, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V3-WSgjd9Nc
On Monday, Rhodes headed to Greenville Pickens Speedway to enter his fifth-career K&N Pro Series East race in the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet with Turner Scott Motorsports. After two solid practice sessions, Rhodes timed in 19th during qualifying.
“I was disappointed with that qualifying effort,” said Rhodes. “We weren’t shooting for the pole since we knew this race was going to be about tire management, but that was a bit back from where I wanted. The track was really slick and I think I overdrove turn one because my car slid up the track and I hardly had any grip.”
Rhodes took the green flag and hung out towards the back of the field, saving his tires for a late charge to the front. With about 50 laps to go, Rhodes was 16th when it was “go time” for the young racer. Picking off positions every few laps, Rhodes worked his way into the top 10, running out of laps to get to the top five, taking the checkered flag in sixth.
“The car was tighter than it was during practice, so that hurt us during the race. I wanted to get a few more positions and be about 10th when we made our run to the front in the last 50 laps, but the push forced me to ride as much as I could early on to not hurt the tires. At the end of the race Lee said I was turning the same lap times as the leader, and we were closing in on the top five. If we had about 10 more laps we might have been able to get up to fourth or third.”
For a post-race recap with Rhodes and McCall of the K&N Pro Series East race, click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4g6wbZ1U3zo
Coming off five victories in his previous six Late Model Stock races, Rhodes was hoping to keep the momentum going this weekend. Despite not having the end results he wanted, he still was one of the fastest cars in both events, and in the K&N Pro Series East event, he picked up 13 positions from his starting spot, more than any other driver in the field.
“We might not have won either race, but our performance was still there. We fought hard through three incidents and a lot of damage at Hickory and raced through the field until the studs broke. At Greenville we overcame a bad qualifying effort to race our way to sixth. The performance of both the Hawk-McCall Motorsports team and the Turner Scott Motorsports team was top notch this weekend, and it showed on the track.”
In 2013, Rhodes is sponsored by Alpha Energy Solutions, Kentucky National Guard, Park Community Federal Credit Union, Alliance Comfort Systems and Refrigerant Rescue.
The next NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock events with Hawk-McCall Motorsports for Rhodes will take place on Saturday, August 14th, in twin features at Southern National Motorsports Park (NC). His next NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race with Turner Scott Motorsports will occur on Friday, September 27th, at Dover International Speedway (DE).
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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