By Jerry Jordan, Editor
PHOENIX – For the past year, Ben Rhodes has lived in the glory (and the hangover) of being the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Championship but when the green flag falls tonight in the season-finale at Phoenix Raceway, two things could happen, he could repeat or relinquish the title to one of his three competitors – Ty Majeski, Chandler Smith or Zane Smith.
Of course, one would think Rhodes would be adamant about the outcome being the former and not the latter but that wasn’t necessarily the vibe he was giving out during Championship Media Day. Despite his normally jovial demeanor, his attitude shifted slightly when asked about the prospects of being a back-to-back champion because he is very superstitious.
“We always dream about it right of how fun it would be to win it again,” Rhodes said. “I wouldn’t say we have anything mapped out. I think you jinx it when you do that. It’s kind of like going to the track and not bringing rain gear. Then, it’s going to rain. So, the same thing I think applies to this. I don’t try to enter the room that the trophy is in. It’s over there, right now. I don’t really like this.”
Rhodes did fire back when it was pointed out that his teammate Matt Crafton has three truck series titles and even won two of them back-to-back. It’s something he wants to share with the crafty ThorsSport veteran.
“You know, it was six years in the making to get to that championship and to go back-to-back would be really special,” Rhodes said. “ I can’t leave my teammate out. Matt Crafton is the only guy to do that. You know it would be nice to join him. He’s probably getting lonely.”
Although winning the championship was memorable, what stood out to many in 2021 was the post-race press conference. No doubt there was a lot of cringing as Rhodes took control of the mic after enjoying some time hanging out with his friend Bud (Light) but should he take home his second truck series championship, he promises to make it an epic occasion.
“I believe there’s a cup called the Pythagoras Cup or Pie-thag-or-us Cup. I can’t pronounce the name, but it’s a cup from ancient times that when you would fill it up and the cup gets full, it drains itself back out, like that’s kind of what the championship felt like last year,” he said. “Like, I felt like I want it. I have never experienced such happiness and just true emotion and racing before, like, it was just, it felt like it was so long to get to this point and now I feel like I can’t live without it. My cup’s empty again. I’ve got to fill it and it’s kind of like an addiction.”
When asked if he was sure he wasn’t referencing a Bud Light cup, he explained things are much different this year at Phoenix Raceway and the party barn in the Fan Zone.
“No, so I came out to the track last week and we have Ben Rhodes Old Fashions now served at The Barn,” Rhodes said. “I don’t know how they’re concocting them, because I made mine (my) way. Hopefully, they’re following that recipe. I will see. And, uh, yeah, that was the whole story. I went out there last year and they didn’t have an Old Fashioned. I’m from Kentucky, they know bourbon, so they got it now, and now I just have to perform 150 laps to make it to The Barn, and you’re going to see something epic.
“You know, uhh, superstition-wise, I’ve just kind of avoided it,” Rhodes said, of planning out a celebration. “I actually had a great plan and I’ve just shelved it like we’re just not even going to think about it. I had an excellent plan in place because there were certain things that I needed last year to just, you know, have more fun that weren’t, necessarily available, to me and I just said we’re not going to do it. We’re not going to … we’re not going to prepare. But we can turn Phoenix into Vegas for a night.”