Ben Rhodes Holds Off Christopher Bell to Win in Last Lap Thriller at Las Vegas

by Briar Starr On Sat, Sep. 30, 2017

Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/Getty Images

Ben Rhodes claimed his first career victory in the Camping World Truck Series race Saturday night at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, holding off Christopher Bell in the final laps to win by a margin of 0.066 seconds.

The ThorSport Racing driver took the lead on the final restart with seven laps to go in his No. 27 Toyota, leading twice for a total of 20 laps, on his way to Victory Lane. With this win, Rhodes is locked into the Round of 6.

“I used every play in my playbook,” said Rhodes said after the race. “I knew if I could keep him (Bell) close to me, he couldn’t break the (air) bubble. This is the biggest high of my life.

 “So many things have gone wrong and now here I am in Victory Lane.”

Chase Briscoe finished third in his No. 29 Ford while Austin Cindric and Kaz Grala rounded out the top five.

On Saturday afternoon, Ryan Truex and Johnny Sauter set the front row spots in qualifying for the Las Vegas 350 Truck Series race. Stage 1 and 2 were 35 laps each with a final stage of 76 laps.

The first stage got off to a wild start. There was a pack of trucks that were three wide down the backstretch and unfortunately, Myatt Snider was bumped from behind by Stewart Friesen and was sent sideways in Turn 3.

After that, the action calmed a bit as Briscoe jumped out to the lead and was able to go on to win Stage 1. Sauter, Bell, Truex, Matt Crafton, Rhodes, Grala, Cindric, Friesen and Noah Gragson rounded out the top 10.

Stage 2 began on Lap 41 and just like the beginning of the race, there was tons of action on the first lap of the stage. Sauter missed a shift and got tapped from behind by Cindric which caused a chain reaction crash that involved Grala, Friesen, Austin Wayne Self and Justin Haley. Grala and Sauter were the only ones with major cosmetic damage.

On Lap 47, Bell went to the lead. The action didn’t stop there as Briscoe, Crafton, John Hunter Nemechek, Rhodes and Truex had a tight battle for the lead. However, on Lap 55, Cindric went sideways through the grass after a side-draft gone wrong with Grant Enfinger.

With a restart on Lap 61, Rhodes took the lead and never looked backed as he went to take Stage 2.

The third final stage went underway on Lap 77. After varying pit strategies, Cindric, who pitted for fuel only and Gragson, who stayed out, were marked as the leaders for a short while.

On Lap 81, playoff contenders, Crafton, Sauter and Cindric made contact with each other on the backstretch. Due to the contact, Sauter had a flat tire. As he went to pit, Sauter was deemed too fast entering pit road and again was caught for speeding.

Bell regained the lead on Lap 87. With 40 to go, Gragson began to pit for his scheduled pit stop but was caught speeding twice and ended up doing a stop-and-go penalty.

Green flag pit stops began with 25 laps to go. This saw most of the leaders pit, except for Playoff contender John Hunter Nemechek who was trying to stretch it to the finish on fuel. The final caution came out with 15 to go as Austin Wayne Self had a tire go down and slammed the outside wall hard. Unfortunately, Nemechek ran out of fuel and stalled his truck on pit road, ending his hopes at a shot for the win.

There were six cautions for 32 laps and seven leaders among 11 lead changes.

Playoffs Points
1. Christopher Bell (W)
2. Ben Rhodes (W)
3. Matt Crafton -51
4 . Johnny Sauter -54
5. Chase Briscoe -68
6. Austin Cindric -70
Below the cut line
7. Kaz Grala -78
8. John Hunter Nemechek -84

Next Up: The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series takes a week off before heading to Talladega Superspeedway on Saturday, October 12, for the Fred’s 250, the final race in the Round of 8.

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