As Ben Rhodes celebrated his fifth NASCAR K&N Pro Series East 21 Means 21 Pole Award Thursday afternoon at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, the 17-year-old reiterated his personal racing motto several times.  That motto has served him well so far in 2014.

 

“I just try to do my best and forget the rest.”
Rhodes’s best has been good enough to give him now five poles, five wins in the last six races and a gigantic lead over the rest of the field in the point standings into Friday’s Granite State 100, the 10th race of the 2014 season.  The Kentucky native will start from the top spot in Friday’s race, which if he wins, would tie Ricky Craven’s record set in 1991 with five-straight victories.

 

But those stats mean little to Rhodes, who is not about to let the records interfere with his duties behind the wheel.

 

“I try not to put any added pressure on myself,” said Rhodes after Thursday’s qualifying.  “I figured out when I was young racing go-karts, I always made mistakes when I put pressure on myself.  I always looked back and put more pressure on myself and pull away from people, but I’d make mistake.  Ever since then, I just decided to do my best and forget the rest.

 

“Last year I was putting a lot of pressure on myself in qualifying.  That’s when I started having really bad qualifying spots, back in 20th place or so, just overdriving the car a lot.  I’ve learned since then that if you just drive the car how you’re supposed to and how the car wants, you’ll do a lot better.”

 

Rhodes was quickest in one of the two qualifying sessions at NHMS Thursday, then backed it up with a lap that broke Brett Moffitt’s qualifying record time set in 2012.  It was yet another feather in the cap for a driver who humbly noted that there is still work to be done.

 

“My confidence has gotten better, but going into each event, I still don’t go in expecting to win or anything.  I expect the opposite.  I try not to expect anything because once you expect something and it doesn’t happen, I find myself getting worried and trying to make something happen when it’s not meant to be.  I still know how tough this field is.  Going into each event, we’ll run good, but I just don’t know how good.  They’re all good drivers and good teams that are all hard to drive against.”

 

Rhodes will start inside fellow NASCAR Next driver Jesse Little on Friday when the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Granite State 100 takes the green flag.

 

“It’s big (to start up front) because this track is so hard to pass on,” added Rhodes.  “I like the track, but it’s so hard and so difficult.  I saw last year Dylan Kwasniewski trying to pass for the lead and ended up getting into a wreck because of that.  Starting up front is certainly going to make it easier to save tires and will be easier on equipment so I can just ride the whole time.”

 

Michigan’s Chad Finley will start Friday’s race from the third spot, while Sergio Pena and Gray Gaulding will start from the top five.

 

Cale Conley failed to make a qualifying lap when his car suffered a mechanical problem.  Giles Thornton and Akinori Ogata also did not make qualifying attempts due to right-front tire issues that forced them each to hit the wall in practice.

 

The Granite State 100 will take the green flag at 6pm ET Friday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway

 

Replay the NASCAR Home Tracks Race Central Live coverage from NHMS Thursday by clicking here.

 

– By Matt Kentfield, Speed51.com Executive Director – Twitter: @MattKentfield

Granite State 100 Qualifying Results

1 41 Ben Rhodes* 29.622
2 97 Jesse Little 29.673
3 29 Chad Finley* 29.762
4 4 Sergio Pena 29.789
5 20 Gray Gaulding 29.791
6 34 Scott Heckert 29.825
7 33 Brandon Jones 29.832
8 98 Cameron Hayley 29.833
9 71 Eddie MacDonald 29.9
10 15 Nick Drake * 29.903
11 27 Kyle Benjamin * 29.903
12 24 Brennan Newberry 29.924
13 22 Austin Hill * 29.941
14 52 Matt Tifft 29.946
15 6 Daniel Suarez 30.044
16 81 Jeremy Burns* 30.137
17 46 Brandon Gdovic 30.164
18 2 Ryan Gifford 30.212
19 43 Brodie Kostecki* 30.236
20 42 Jay Beasley* 30.248
21 21 Mackena Bell 30.271
22 14 Trey Hutchens* 30.48
23 05 Codie Rohrbaugh * 30.482
24 96 Kenzie Ruston 30.528
25 1 David Garbo Jr.* 30.578
26 04 Ronnie Bassett Jr. * 30.594
27 77 Anderson Bowen * 30.668
28 31 Kaz Grala* 30.846
29 63 John Salemi 31.555
30 47 Cale Conley No Time

Ben’s Best Earns A Fifth K&N Pole at New Hampshire