For the second time in two weeks, 17-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, native and NASCAR Next driver Ben Rhodes raced on a road course as the 14th stop of the 16-race 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Series took place on Saturday, August 16th, at the 2.25-mile Virginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia. Starting the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet with Turner Scott Motorsports from the second spot, the championship points leader and rookie of the year contender survived a wild “Biscuitville 125” to finish 10th.
Rhodes had two successful practice sessions, timing in third fast in the first session and fastest in the second. That translated over to qualifying where he timed in second fast, his 10th front row starting position in 14 races this season.
At the start of the scheduled 55-lap race, Rhodes dropped back a few positions to save tires for later in the race. At the halfway break he was fourth and ready to see what he could do for the second half. However, after multiple restarts due to several cautions and even two red flags for clean-up, his Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet received damage that caused some overheating issues. While the team serviced the car on pit road, another full course caution came out, which allowed him to stay on the lead lap and line up 12th on the final green-white-checkered restart. When the green flag flew, Rhodes was able to pick up two positions, taking the checkered flag on the lead lap in the 10th position.
With just two races left in the 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season, Rhodes leads the championship points standings by 65 as well as the rookie of the year standings by 35 points.
Ben Rhodes Quotes
Talk about your race day. “Our goal was to make sure we protected our points lead, and if we had an opportunity at the end of the race to win we would see what we could do. The track changed though and my Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet wasn’t handling the way I wanted for the first half. Mark McFarland (crew chief) and my TSM team made adjustments for the second half, but we ended up getting damage that blocked off the airflow to the radiator, so the engine started to overheat and we had to pit to fix it. The caution came out at the right time and during the red flag it cooled down. At that point we were in survival mode and managed to get 10th.”
You lost points, but still lead by 65 going into the final two races. “This race was more about protecting our points lead. We were able to survive and only lose 10 points, so we are now heading to Greenville and Dover with the goal of winning both races.”
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 14 of 16
Saturday, August 16th, 2014
Virginia International Raceway (2.25-mile road course) – Alton, Virginia
Laps Completed (Led): 60 (0)
Championship Points Position: 1st (by 65 points)
Rookie of the Year Points Position: 1st (by 35 points)
NASCAR K&N Pro Series East
Saturday, September 6th, 2014
Greenville Pickens Speedway (0.500-mile asphalt oval) – Easley, South Carolina