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NASCAR Truck: Chandler Smith wins race, Ben Rhodes championship at Phoenix

AVONDALE, ARIZONA – NOVEMBER 05: Ben Rhodes, driver of the #99 Bombardier LearJet 75 Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship at Phoenix Raceway on November 05, 2021 in Avondale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)


Chandler Smith won the battle and Ben Rhodes the proverbial war at Phoenix Raceway on Friday night, as Smith claimed his second-career and second 2021 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win in the Lucas Oil 150 and Rhodes became a first-time Truck Series champion with a third-place finish in the season finale.

“First and foremost, all glory to the Man upstairs; without him, none of this would be possible,” Smith said. “I wouldn’t have all these awesome relationships with all these guys, my racing family. This is my family. Also, He’s blessed me with a great family and being around great people and being able to come out to Phoenix Raceway in front of these fans tonight and be able to compete in high tier equipment. I’m just really blessed right now. Can’t thank Safelite, Toyota Racing, Danny (Stockman, crew chief), KBM, Kyle (Busch, truck owner), everybody that goes down the line to make this happen.”

With the race win, Smith also secured 2021 Rookie-of-the-Year honors.

Stewart Friesen and Sheldon Creed, who made the playoffs but had already been eliminated from title contention, finished second and fourth, respectively. Zane Smith, also among the four 2021 title contenders, rounded out the top-fine.

Chandler Smith took his race-winning lead from Creed on lap 133. Creed dominated at Phoenix, leading 106 laps of the 150-lap race, but Chandler Smith won both of the 45-lap stages in the first 90 laps.

Chandler Smith first passed Creed for a stage win on lap 35 and then, again, on lap 88.

Meanwhile, Rhodes was the highest runner among the championship contenders for most of the race, usually with Zane Smith in close pursuit. Zane Smith passed Rhodes for position on lap 110, but on lap 142, Rhodes returned to championship position.

“That was the hardest last 40 laps I think I have ever driven in my life,” Rhodes said. “I was doing things to the race car I probably shouldn’t have been doing; it was dumb, but I had everything to lose. And we brought it home and won it. I don’t even know what to say. This is crazy. Bookends for the season, I am so proud of my ThorSport Racing group. This wasn’t like a vision we had, right, everyone wants to win it, but you just don’t know, it’s so hard. I just can’t thank Duke and Rhonda (Thorson, team owners) enough. They are the reason I’m here tonight. Bombardier, Toyota, Menards, WileyX, we have so many people that help us. I can’t even talk right now. I’m so excited.”

Three of the four title candidates finished in the top-10 with John Hunter Nemechek in seventh after running a lap down for nearly two-thirds of the race. He fell off the lead lap with an unscheduled pit stop for a flat left-front tire on lap eight. He got back on the lead lap during a caution for Tate Fogleman on lap 101.

The yellow flag for Fogleman was the fourth and final caution of the race, the second for an on-track incident. The first came for Lawless Alan on lap 12.

The remaining championship contender, Matt Crafton, finished the Phoenix race in the 12th position.

Other top-10 finishers in Friday night’s race included Christian Eckes in sixth, Todd Gilliland in eighth, Carson Hocevar in ninth and Austin Hill in 10th.

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Posted by on November 6, 2021. Filed under Breaking News,Camping World Truck Series,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.