After almost missing his pit stall during the final pit stops due to a fire from Brett Moffitt’s pit, the Louisville, Kentucky native finally broke through to earn his first ever win in his hometown state of Kentucky at Kentucky Speedway.
The stages were broken up into 35 for Stage 1 and 2, while the final stage was 80 laps.
The first yellow of the night came on the very first lap for Tyler Matthews of the No. 83 who spun out and hit the wall in Turn 2. That was the only caution of the stage as it remained green throughout the stage. When the stage started to wind down with three to go, the No. 54 of Bo LeMastus held up race leader Noah Gragson, who eventually lost the stage win to Ben Rhodes. Rhodes ended up winning the stage.
Stage 2 began on Lap 42 and went to Lap 70.
Gragson got out front on the restart with help from his teammate, Brandon Jones. No incidents happened in Stage 2 as it was clean and green, and Gragson went on to win his seventh stage of the year. During the pit stop, the No. 18 crew had troubles and was sent back to 13th for the restart.
The final stage was restarted with 74 laps to go and the action started to pick up.
After taking two tires only, Parker Kligerman was the race leader. Stewart Friesen chased him down and passed him on Lap 88. Not much happened throughout those laps, but pit stops began with 30 to go.
The race leaders started to pit with 26 to go and there were multiple penalties handed out. Myatt Snider was hit for driving through too many pit boxes, Bo LeMastus too fast entering, and Johnny Sauter had two penalties (too fast entering, commitment line violation) and Austin Hill was penalized for too fast entering.
During this period, eventual race winner, Ben Rhodes came down to pit but almost missed his pit stall as a quick fire erupted from the No. 16 pit. Rhodes took no tires and just fuel only, while Friesen took two tires.
These two ultimately battled for the race win, but at the end of the day, it was Kentucky native Ben Rhodes picking up his first career win and Ford’s first win of the season.
“It caught me off guard honestly,” Rhodes said. “We got so behind on these restarts and they’re just so crazy here. You have to be on your game and unfortunately, depending on the circumstances and teammates working together, whatever it may be, we got behind.
“I mean, excellent call by him (crew chief). He caught me a little off guard. I was slamming on the brakes as hard as I could through (Turns) 3 and 4 and got it slowed down in time. I was a little worried. But man, just a huge thank you to Ford Performance, Carolina Nut, Thorsport Racing, Alpha Energy Solutions, all my fans that came out here, all my supporters and friends, family. Unbelievable, I just don’t have any words.”
“Maybe we can go to Eldora,” he said. “I’m on ice there though, so I’ll have to take some notes from (Matt) Crafton and see if we can get around there. I think we need to keep this Thorsport going.”
Rhodes led four times for 38 laps, won Stage 1 and finished third in Stage 2.
There were five leaders among twelve lead changes with three cautions for 14 laps.