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NASCAR Truck: Ben Rhodes gets first win at Las Vegas

Ben Rhodes celebrates in victory lane at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after winning the Las Vegas 350 on Sept. 30, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

Ben Rhodes celebrates in victory lane at Las Vegas Motor Speedway after winning the Las Vegas 350 on Sept. 30, 2017 (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR).

By AMANDA VINCENT

Ben Rhodes edged out Christopher Bell by 0.06 seconds Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to claim his first-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in the Las Vegas 350. With the win, Rhodes also joined Bell as the two drivers guaranteed advancement to the second round of the 2017 playoffs.

“This was uncontrollable screaming on the radio,” Rhodes said. “I don’t even know. This is the biggest high of my life. This is crazy. I just never thought it would come after so many things went wrong, and now, it did, and we’re here.”

Rhodes led a total of 20 laps, taking his second and final lead by passing Bell on the final restart of the race on lap 140 of the 146-lap race.

“I used every play in my playbook,” Rhodes said of his strategy to keep Bell behind him in the final laps. “I knew if I could keep him close to me, he couldn’t break the bubble. Every time he tried to break the bubble and get far away, he’d suck right up to the 27 Safelite Toyota Tundra and be right there on our bumper. So I had to keep him at a distance and that was most nervous thing I think I’ve ever done in my life.”

Bell finished second, giving Toyota a one-two finish. Chase Briscoe was third, Austin Cindric fourth, and Kaz Grala rounded out the top-five.

“Our DC Solar Tundra was excellent,” Bell said. “Once the sun went down, it was out there for a while. Just – I don’t know. These trucks are so aero sensitive; it’s a lot of who does the best job of restarting and who has the best push. I just didn’t get it done on the last restart and it was frustrating for my guys. I’m happy for Ben; that was a cool win for him. He’s been long overdue for a win, and that was cool to race him that hard to get a win. I’m just upset for myself and bummed for my team; they did an excellent job. They did their part, brought a really fast Tundra to win.”

Rhodes also was the winner of the second 35-lap stage of the race.

After Ryan Truex started on the pole, Briscoe took the lead at the start of the race and remained up front to win the first stage.

Bell, who led a race-high 64 laps, took his first lead on lap 41. After restarting next to Bell after cautions on lap 42 and 56, Rhodes took his first lead on lap 61.

Bell’s Kyle Busch Motorsports teammate, Noah Gragson, stayed out during the caution that marked the end of stage two at lap 70 to assume the lead. Despite being on older tires, Gragson was able to maintain his lead for several laps before giving way to Bell on lap 87. Gragson finally pitted under green on lap 108 and was penalized for speeding on pit road.

The rest of the race field cycled through green-flag stops in the final 25 laps. John Hunter Nemechek waited several additional laps before making his stop, and as a result, was able to pit under yellow during a lap-132 caution. Nemechek, though, waiting a little too long to pit and wound up stalling his truck on pit road while the pits were closed. Still, Nemechek managed and eighth-place finish.

Other top-10 finishers included Cody Coughlin in sixth, Matt Crafton in seventh, and Grant Enfinger in ninth.

Reigning series champion Johnny Sauter rounded out the top-10, despite sustaining significant damage in a multi-truck incident on lap 42, and then, making an unscheduled top for a flat tire after contact with Crafton that resulted in a pit-road speeding penalty just past the halfway point of the race.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (facebook.com/nascarexaminer).

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Posted by on October 1, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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