A Well-Timed Victory for Rhodes
A driver’s ability to elevate their performance in the Playoffs is critical to success in NASCAR.
Ben Rhodes did so in Saturday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway as he captured his first career victory.
While the ThorSport Racing driver has come close to winning numerous times in his young career, he often fell short but having that first victory under his belt changes his outlook.
“Just the pressure to get the first win off was huge,” Rhodes said. “Now that that’s off, I feel like they’re going to come a lot easier now.”
The win is even more meaningful in the post-season picture. After barely making the Playoff field, he has locked up a spot in the Round of 6.
“We proved tonight that we belong in the Playoffs after coming so close to getting into it a couple of different times from wins and something goes wrong, and we didn’t make it in,” Rhodes said. “Now we got in by a tie, and we’re proving that we belong here and we’re going to the Round of 6.”
It also removes the unknown factor of Talladega Superspeedway as the first round elimination race. Although Rhodes felt confident about his chances, he will no longer need to worry about how it will impact his title hopes.
“I never really felt the pressure for Talladega like a lot of people do in the series,” Rhodes said. “I was trying to let everyone else feel the pressure. I just saw it as a great opportunity.”
The No. 27 team’s focus now shifts to the Round of 6 that will determine who competes for the championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Rhodes has typically performed best at 1.5-mile tracks on the schedule after dominating at Kansas in May before blowing an engine late while leading and winning at Las Vegas.
With two mile-and-a-half races remaining this season at Texas Motor Speedway and Homestead-Miami Speedway, two additional victories would propel him to the title.
While he did top Christopher Bell on Saturday, the Kyle Busch Motorsports driver remains the championship favorite, and has dominated at the intermediate venues this season with three victories and hasn’t shown any signs of slowing up.
Bell remains stout, but Rhodes could give him a run for his money if both competitors make the season finale.
Rhodes believes that there is no doubt that he will be one of four drivers contending for the title.
“This is going to help catapult us into Homestead,” Rhodes said.
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