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NASCAR Truck: Ben Rhodes remains undefeated in 2021

DAYTONA BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 19: Ben Rhodes, driver of the #99 Bombardier LearJet 75 Toyota, and John Hunter Nemechek, driver of the #4 Mobil 1 Toyota, race during the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series BrakeBest Brake Pads 159 At Daytona Presented by O’Reilly at Daytona International Speedway on February 19, 2021 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

By AMANDA VINCENT

Ben Rhodes is undefeated in 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. He followed up his win on the 2.5-mile Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway in the season opener the previous weekend with a win of the BrakeBest Brake Pads 159 on Friday night at the DIS road course.

“We did the sweep,” Rhodes said. “I didn’t know that there was a sweep possible at Daytona, but we did it. I don’t know what to say. This Bombardier Tundra was fast from the get-go. Starting on the pole, I knew that if we just played it safe, if I gave up the lead – I didn’t care about the laps led, none of that stuff. We didn’t need an ego; we needed to win the race. We played it smart all day. The rain was so fun. I prayed for the rain before the race, and we got it. I just wish it had stayed the whole time, because we were making so much hay once I got the handling down on it. I honestly didn’t want it to go dry, but I guess I’m glad that it did because it worked out okay.”

A significant portion of the race was contested on a wet track, a first for the Truck Series that had qualified and practiced in rain before but never held a portion of a race in wet conditions.

Rhodes second win of the season in the first two races was the 200th win, all-time, for Toyota, the manufacturer to which Rhodes’ ThorSport Racing returned during the offseason.

“So cool — 200 wins for Toyota. I’m so proud to be able to get that for them,” Rhodes said. “You always want to be the guy that delivers for people, and I’m glad that I could be the delivery man. That’s so cool. Toyota, they’ve given so much support to us. I think that’s a big reason why we’ve been in victory lane both weeks.”

Reigning Truck Series champion Sheldon Creed finished second and John Hunter Nemechek was third after Rhodes, Creed and Nemechek combined to lead most of the race that was scheduled for 44 laps but extended to 51 by three overtime restarts. Creed led a race-high 17 laps.

John Hunter Nemechek led the first 14 laps after taking the lead from pole sitter Rhodes on the opening lap. Those laps led included a stage-one win on lap 12. Nemechek lost the lead to Creed on lap 15, and after staying out during a lap-nine caution and missing pit entrance during the caution after stage one, Nemechek stalled, bringing out a caution, after running out of fuel on lap 23.

Creed continued to lead, but he gave up the position to Raphael Lessard just before Nemechek’s caution. The second stage ended on lap 25, during the caution, resulting in a Lessard stage-two win.

Creed retook the lead on the restart that followed, and he and Rhodes led most of the remaining lap. Creed, though, fell from first to fifth during the next caution on lap 31 when he had difficulty re-firing his truck after shutting it off to save fuel. Riley Herbst took a brief lead before Rhodes assumed the position when the race restarted.

Creed retook the lead just before the seventh caution of the race that sent the event into its first overtime, but just before the second overtime, Rhodes took the position for good. Nemechek, who went a lap down when he ran out of fuel, got back on the lead lap during the lap-31 caution and got back to as high as second in the running order before losing the position to Creed on the final restart.

“Very frustrating day,” Nemechek said. “Had a really fast Tundra and led most of the race. Second stage, we thought we were good on mileage with the wet conditions and how slow we were. Ended up running out of gas. Just a mistake. Honest mistake. We win and lose as a team. Fought hard, got our lap back and got back to the front, made some moves, and we did some things, there, on strategy that hurt us but put us in a good position for that last restart. I just messed up. Go back and study and be better next time.”

Todd Gilliland and Herbst rounded out the top-five. Matt Crafton finished sixth, Derek Kraus was seventh, Kaz Grala eighth, Timmy Hill ninth, and Christian Eckes finished 10th.

Below, is the complete finishing order of the BrakeBest Brake Pads 159:

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Posted by on February 20, 2021. Filed under Breaking News,Camping World Truck Series,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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