LOUISVILLE, Ky. (October 7th, 2013) – Louisville, Kentucky, native and NASCAR Next driver Ben Rhodes headed to Martinsville Speedway with optimism and excitement to race his No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Ford with Hawk-McCall Motorsports in the “Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300” NASCAR Whelen All-American Series Late Model Stock event on Sunday, October 6th. However, the 16-year-old driver left the Virginia track before he was able to race in the feature event after getting wrecked out in his heat race on the last lap while in the transfer spot, ending his day early.
With 90 cars making their way to the half-mile paperclip-shaped track, Rhodes knew getting into the 42-car main event was going to be tough. On Saturday during practice Rhodes was the sixth-fast car. After his crew replaced a cracked right front hub, he timed in 16th fast in group qualifying, which put him in the fourth starting position in heat race four.
“The car was pretty good in practice, but it got too tight when we had to qualify,” said Rhodes. “I thought we were going to time in faster, but starting fourth in the fourth heat race wasn’t a bad spot and I figured I would move forward right away.”
On Sunday, Rhodes took the green flag with over 20 other cars in his 20-lap heat race from the fourth position, only needing to stay within the top eight to transfer to the feature. However, in turn three on the first lap, a car slammed into the back of his car, sending him around and damaging his car.
“I have no idea what that guy was thinking,” said Rhodes. “All I know is I got hit in the back and went for a spin. There was some damage on the car and the toe was knocked out, but I was still able to drive it so I stayed focused and got ready to see what I could do with it.”
Restarting 14th, Rhodes worked his way to within the top 10 before halfway. After a caution flag, Rhodes restarted the race with five laps to go and was riding eighth in the transfer position on the white flag lap when the same car that spun him on the first lap spun him again, this time causing a lot of damage to his car and knocking him out of transferring to the feature.
“The first time I was wrecked I thought maybe it was just a mistake or maybe a brake problem or just a driver not paying attention and getting too excited. When he wrecked me the second time it was definitely on purpose to knock me out from transferring in.”
Rhodes was eligible to race in the last-chance race, but his car was too damaged to fix before the start, so he was unable to make his second-career start in the annual Late Model Stock event.
“It was very frustrating for my team and me. There is a lot of pressure to get into this race and in short track racing there is going to be contact, but to get wrecked the way I did by the same guy twice is not right. A driver should have more respect for their competitors, their sponsors, and their team than that.
“I hate it for my team, Alpha Energy Solutions and all my sponsors and fans that didn’t get to see us try to race for the win. We will regroup though and see what we can do next race.”
In 2013, Rhodes is sponsored by Alpha Energy Solutions, Kentucky National Guard, Park Community Federal Credit Union, Alliance Comfort Systems and Refrigerant Rescue.
Rhodes will spend the week back in his home state of Kentucky before heading to North Carolina during the NASCAR race weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, October 10th – 13th, to participate in NASCAR Next appearances at the track, signing autographs and being a part of a Q&A session with the fans.
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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