LOUISVILLE, KY (June 22nd, 2014) – 17-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, native and NASCAR Next driver Ben Rhodes added another mark in the win column on Saturday, June 21st, driving the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet with Turner Scott Motorsports to victory in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) “Visit Hampton VA 175” at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Virginia. The win in the ninth race of the season for the rookie racer was his fifth season victory and fourth in a row, which helped extend his points lead in the championship and rookie of the year standings.
Never turning a lap in NKNPSE race competition at Langley Speedway, Rhodes took to the track Saturday afternoon for practice, timing in third fast. In qualifying, he backed up that time by earning the outside pole position, his eighth front-row starting spot in nine races this season.
At the start of the 175-lap race, Rhodes settled in to second until an early caution bunched the field for a restart. When the field went back green flag racing at lap 13, Rhodes battled hard on the outside line, edging ahead on lap 14 before clearing his way by TSM teammate Scott Heckert to put the No. 41 Chevrolet solidly on the point.
Rhodes set the pace out front during a few long green flag runs until a yellow flag flew late in the race, setting up a five-lap run to the checkered flag. He was able to get away from the battle for second on the restart, driving his way to the checkered flag first once again.
The fifth victory of the season for Rhodes, which was also his fourth in a row, earned him his eighth Sunoco Rookie of the Race award this season and his Autolite Iridium XP Lap Leader award for leading the most laps in the race. He also extended his championship points lead from 55 points to 71, and continues to lead the rookie of the year standings.
Ben Rhodes Quotes
You earned another front row starting spot, but just missed the pole again. “Mark McFarland (crew chief) and my Turner Scott Motorsports team gave me a great Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet for qualifying again. We have four poles, four outside poles and a fifth in the nine races. I wanted another pole position, but starting second helped keep our streak of front row starting spots going this year. And, being I was beat by Scott Heckert, one of my TSM teammates for his first-career pole, second wasn’t a bad spot to start.”
You took the lead early and on the outside lane, which is hard to pass on. “I was told by a few local drivers before the race the outside line is pretty difficult to use to get around someone, but I decided to try and go on the restart and see if I could get around Scott. I was able to get just enough grip out there to make it work and settle in to the lead. I really wanted to get out front because I wanted to set the pace of the race.”
Were you concerned on the last restart you might lose the race? “I really hated to see that caution come out since I had a pretty good lead. But during the race I paced myself to not hurt the tires in case there was a late-race caution so I could get away from the pack. I remembered what happened at Bristol earlier this year when I led the whole race and lost it when I was knocked up the track on the restart, so I saved just enough to get away when the green flag flew and let them battle for second behind me.”
Talk about getting your fifth win, fourth in a row. “The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is a very competitive, so getting five wins this year and four in a row is pretty big. We have just been fortunate to have everything going the right way for us this year. My Alpha team works hard in the shop and at the track so I have a good car that can race and stay up front, and we have had good luck on our side. Hopefully we can keep things going in the same direction and maybe pick up a few more wins this year.”
It was another good points day as well. “If you lead the most laps and win the race, you get the maximum points possible. Our performance has helped us do that a few times this year, but it really only takes a bad race or two to really swing the points the other way. We are going to keep doing what we are doing every race trying to win and let the points take care of themselves.”
In 2014, Ben Rhodes is sponsored by Alpha Energy Solutions, Alliance Comfort Systems, Kentucky National Guard, Park Community Credit Union, and Refrigerant Rescue.
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East – Race 9 of 16
Saturday, June 21st, 2014
“Visit Hampton VA 175”
Langley Speedway (0.395-mile asphalt oval) – Hampton, VA
Laps Completed (Led): 175 (162)
Championship Points Position: 1st (by 71 points)
Rookie of the Year Points Position: 1st
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Friday, July 11th, 2014
“Granite State 100”
New Hampshire Motor Speedway (1.058-mile asphalt oval) – Loudon, NH
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– Team Press Release Photo Credit: STIX FX Entertainment