Accident dashes Rhodes hopes at a shot for Truck championship

Matthew T. Thacker/NKPPhoto

By Caleb Whisler, Staff Writer

Ben Rhodes’ 2017 Playoffs began by winning the tiebreaker at Chicagoland Speedway over Ryan Truex, but his hopes at competing for a championship were dashed at Lap 131 at Phoenix Raceway.

Going into the Lucas Oil 150, Rhodes sat only five points behind Austin Cindric, who was on the playoff bubble. Throughout the race, Rhodes and Cindric were within ten points of each other throughout the night.

When the race restarted on Lap 131, Rhodes was ahead of Cindric on the inside line.. As the field was going into the first turn on the restart, Cindric had a run and went to the inside of Rhodes. Rhodes went down and attempted to block Cindric, but the move failed. Rhodes was clipped by the nose of Cindric’s truck sending him and his teammate, Matt Crafton, into the wall.

“Yeah, you know, there’s definitely a time and place to go three-wide. I think that there was still a lot of racing to do. I could have done the same move to the guy in front of me, but chose not to do it because it wasn’t the time. He (Austin Cindric) put me in a bad place and trying to do everything I could to keep the spot, but once you file into Turn 1 we were all going to wreck, so I’m not sure that was the right move on his part,” said Rhodes.

At that point of the race, Rhodes had the faster truck compared to Cindric. Rhodes felt that the move was an act of desperation on Cindric’s part due to the fact that could have been his only chance to make it to Homestead-Miami Speedway racing for a championship.

“I did everything I could to just make sure we were having a good day. We were in front of him all day long and we were going to be into the final four and I don’t know. It looked like a desperation move to me because there’s so much racing left to do.”

On that restart, Rhodes felt that Cindric was driving over his head and making risky moves as a result. Rhodes alluded to the fact that he could have done the same move as Cindric did on the trucks in front of him, but that he chose not to do so because it would have resulted in an accident in the first turn.

“When you do that here at Phoenix, it’s not very wide in Turn 1 – it’s a sharp turn and he barely – he didn’t even have the position on me. He just barely had his nose looking and, you know, I think had he done that it would have caused a wreck,” said Rhodes.

Despite being involved in the accident, Rhodes was mad that it also ruined the strong day by Crafton and destroyed two tricks in the ThorSport Racing stable.

“You know, unfortunate for my teammate (Crafton). He was having a really good run today. It’s sad that we tore up two good trucks for Duke Thorson (team owner) and ThorSport Racing. There’s a lot of hard workers at ThorSport racing that put these trucks together and, you know, just sad to see that stuff happen.,” said Rhodes.

Although he was scored with a 20th place finish, Rhodes is ready to move forward to Homestead to finish out the season on a high note

“We’re just going to move forward from here and finish out the season strong and show everybody that had we not get taken out here that we should be the champion.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *