March 27, 2014 — story and audio by Managing Editor Jacob Seelman for Speed77 Radio and Race Chaser Online — photo courtesy race22.com — RIDGEWAY, VA — There really is a first time for everything.
And following that line of thinking, Ben Rhodes will make his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) debut this weekend at Martinsville Speedway behind the wheel of the No. 32 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet Silverado for Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM).
The young Rhodes is coming off a spectacular run in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (KNPSE), scoring his first series victory last weekend at Greenville-Pickens Speedway after notching his third consecutive 21 Means 21 Pole Award in the division.
“Last weekend was huge for us, to bring the road full-circle in a way; it really meant a lot,” Rhodes said of the win. “Not only to get the pole, but to grab the victory as well and finally get that monkey off our back, it just opened the doors for this team and now we’ve done it, and it feels good. I’m ready to do it again,” the NASCAR Next driver laughed.
While this weekend may be Rhodes’ first time at Martinsville, the 17-year-old is no stranger to short-track racing and currently leads the KNPSE points standings. The Kroger 250 will be one of five NCWTS races for Rhodes this season.
“I’m really excited to be making my Truck Series debut this weekend at Martinsville [Speedway],” Rhodes expressed. “I know we’re going with a great truck and I’m very confident in my Turner Scott Motorsports team. I was able to test with these guys a few weeks ago and it went great. I think we’re going to have some speed this weekend, and then it’s just a matter of going out and doing what we do.”
Rhodes has excelled on the short tracks over the past six months between the end of his run in the late model ranks and his current status in the KNPSE. With six late model wins in addition to his trio of poles and last week’s victory, the Kentucky native is brimming with confidence heading to a track where he ran solidly in the past in a late model.
“I haven’t had a lot of track time at Martinsville obviously in a truck, but we ran really well in the late model race (the Virginia is for Racing Lovers 300) in 2012, and we would have again last year had some stuff not happened that was out of our control. But all in all, I’m really excited for Saturday; I feel like if we can keep our nose clean, we’ll have a shot for a good finish.”
Rhodes will tackle this weekend’s Kroger 250 under the veteran guidance of two-time NCWTS championship-winning crew chief Mike Hillman, Jr. Rhodes and the No. 32 team will utilize chassis TSM-231 for this weekend’s racing action, a truck raced just once by former TSM driver Miguel Paludo in last fall’s Martinsville Truck race en route to a 21st place finish after a top-15 run the entire afternoon.
“I’m really looking forward to working with [Mike] Hillman [Jr.] throughout the year and plan to learn as much as possible throughout these five races from both him and my teammates. I know this weekend is going to be all about learning as much as we can from Mike, from Ron (Hornaday), and from the other veterans out there and within our organization and I’m ready to soak as much of that in as I can,” Rhodes said.
Don’t miss any of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series action as their second race of the season goes green at Martinsville Speedway this weekend. The Kroger 250 airs live on Saturday, March 29 at 2:00 P.M. Eastern on FOX Sports 1, with radio coverage live on the Motor Racing Network and SiriusXM Satellite Radio, channel 90.
Listen in to our full interview with Ben as he previews his Martinsville truck chances and recaps a big victory in Greenville in the K&N Pro Series East:
About Alpha Energy Solutions
Alpha is a self-performing service provider specializing in HVAC, indoor energy solutions, building automation, chillers, boilers, electrical, plumbing and equipment rental. Their coverage area includes eight states surrounding their home base in Kentucky.
Check their web site at http://www.