LOUISVILLE, Ky. (September 16th, 2013) – After spending a few days in Chicago, Illinois, as part of the NASCAR Contenders Live event and Race Fan Rally in Joliet, 16-year-old Louisville, Kentucky, native and NASCAR Next driver Ben Rhodes headed to Southern National Motorsports Park on Saturday, September 14th, to race in twin 100-lap Late Model Stock Car events, his first NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races at the North Carolina track. Battling strong with local regulars all night, Rhodes drove the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Ford with Hawk-McCall Motorsports to two fourth-place finishes.
After spending the morning and early afternoon practicing, Rhodes was able to time in sixth fast in qualifying for the first feature race.
“Lee (McCall, crew chief) and the Hawk-McCall Motorsports team had my Alpha Energy Solutions car handling really well right off the trailer,” said Rhodes. “We tried a few things during practice to tune it in and it helped going into qualifying.”
When the green flag flew for the first twin 100, Rhodes raced in the sixth position until lap 19, moving into the top five. Just before the halfway point he worked his way to fourth, reeling in the third-place car. However it took many laps to get by and take the third position, which caused a huge gap to the top-two drivers. Despite running faster laps during the final 20 circuits over the top-two drivers, Rhodes was unable to challenge for position, finishing third.
“We had a great first race,” said Rhodes. “I could have roughed people up to get closer to the front and challenge for the win, but that isn’t how I race. Once I got to third, I tried to save my tires as much as I could for the second race.”
After a track invert up front, Rhodes started the second 100-lap feature from the fifth position. On a crazy start with some three-wide action up front, Rhodes was able to get to second by the second lap. Throughout the race, Rhodes raced in the second or third position until around 20 laps to go when his car started to fall off. He was able to hang on and cross the finish line in fourth.
“We made some changes to the car for the second race to compensate for the tire wear and handling differences later in the night,” said Rhodes. “We were not allowed to change tires for the second race, and even though I was saving them by not spinning them in the first race, I raced pretty hard. I think that hurt us late in the second race as I lost forward drive. I was hanging on there at the end of the second race.”
In August, Rhodes went on a winning streak, earning five NASCAR Whelen All-American Series races. Even though the third and fourth at SNMP were not victories, Rhodes was satisfied with the results.
“We came here to win, but I knew that was going to be tough. These were my first-two NASCAR-sanctioned races here, and the drivers that I was racing around had already raced 10 to 20 times or more here this year. We were able to be competitive and we had a great time battling with the local racers.”
Saturday night’s double at SNMP concluded a busy travel weekend for Rhodes that started with the NASCAR event in Chicago.
“This was a great weekend for sure,” explained Rhodes. “I really have to thank NASCAR and the NASCAR Next program for the Chicago event. I was able to meet and talk with many of the NASCAR Sprint Cup media members. We also toured the Joliet firehouse at Chicagoland Speedway, and got to interact with the fans at the Race Fan Rally. I even walked out on the glass at the top of the Willis Tower in the Chicago Skydeck. Chicago is a great city and hopefully one day I will be back to race at Chicagoland Speedway.”
In 2013, Rhodes is sponsored by Alpha Energy Solutions, Kentucky National Guard, Park Community Federal Credit Union, Alliance Comfort Systems and Refrigerant Rescue.
Rhodes will be shifting gears from his Late Model Stock with Hawk-McCall Motorsports to his NASCAR K&N Pro Series East ride with Turner Scott Motorsports as he will enter the “North American Power 100” at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (NH) on Saturday, September 21st, driving the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet.
For more information on Ben Rhodes, including media availability, contact Jason “Stix” Buckley of STIX FX Entertainment at (704) 519-5528 or firstname.lastname@example.org, and make sure to keep up to date on his racing career at www.benrhodes.com, like him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/benrhodesinc, and follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/benrhodes as well as Instagram at www.instagram.com/benrhodes.
Photo Credit: STIX FX Entertainment