BEN RHODES DRIVES TO DAYTONA GLORY
Rhodes goes to Daytona Victory Lane in return to Toyota
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (February 12, 2021) – Ben Rhodes drove ThorSport Racing to victory lane in the team’s first race since returning to Toyota. It was Rhodes first win at Daytona International Speedway and fourth of his Truck Series career. It was Toyota’s 199th win in the Truck Series since debuting in 2003.
Toyota Racing Post-Race Recap
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Daytona International Speedway
Race 1 of 23 – 100 Laps, 250 Miles
TOYOTA FINISHING POSITIONS
1st, BEN RHODES
2nd, Jordan Anderson*
3rd, Corey Roper*
4th, Ryan Truex*
5th, Carson Hocevar*
7th, JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK
9th, CHANDLER SMITH
10th, DREW DOLLAR
11th, GRANT ENFINGER
15th, MATT CRAFTON
17th, DANNY BOHN
22nd, AUSTIN HILL
27th, JOHNNY SAUTER
32nd, STEWART FRIESEN
33rd, DEREK KRAUS
BEN RHODES, No. 99 Bombardier LearJet 75 Toyota Tundra, ThorSport Racing
Finishing Position: 1st
How did you end up here with the checkered flag?
“I don’t even know. I’ve got to give such a big thank you to my team. This is so special. Biggest win of my career. I can’t even believe this. As a driver, you are always asked about what your biggest accomplishment is. This is it. This is hands down it. This is the place to be. I can’t even believe it. We’ve got Bombardier on the truck. We came back to Toyota and we won in our first race with them back with ThorSport. I can’t thank Duke and Rhonda Thorson (team owners) enough for this opportunity. This is special.”
You won at Daytona. How does that feel?
“I’m going to soak it up for as long as I can. That Darlington win went by too fast. You just don’t know when you’re going to get it again, but I’m going to enjoy this night. The best night of my life right here.”
Can you talk me through your last lap?
“That actually started out at the end of the second stage. I got setup with the same move, and I logged it in my memory bank. I came up short at that checkered flag, but I was going to make sure I didn’t come up short on this one. We just tried to time it right. Thank goodness I had my Menards teammate Matt Crafton behind me, because he’s a stud. He’s been around for a long time. He knows what he’s doing and you’ve seen the help he gives me there. This wouldn’t have been possible without Matt Crafton. I owe him a huge thank you.”
Can you talk us through the last lap of the race?
“I love this, oh my gosh, I love this. This has been such a long time coming for this race. It’s been three years in a row that we got wrecked out leading with like three laps to go. This is years of frustration coming off right now. I can’t even believe it. Thank goodness I had my teammate of Matt Crafton behind me. What a hero? He saved this race for us and got us the win. I can’t even thank him enough. This is because of him. I owe him a huge thank you. He’s a stud and he’s been in this series a long time. He knew what he was doing and he made that block for me. Without him doing it, I don’t think we’d be here right now so thank you so much.”
What all did you all do to the race truck to improve the handling during the race?
“I don’t know if it was the combination of left-side skirt or maybe we were down on the splitter too, but I just had a big balance problem. I was pushing really bad, couldn’t get on people’s bumpers. At the same time, the rearend was out of the track. I don’t know what Rich (Lushes, crew chief) did. I just tried to stay focused on the race. He’s a great crew chief. First race together and he’s got a ton of experience. I just trusted in him. We can talk about the changes in the post-race debrief, he and I. I just trusted in what he was doing and whatever he was doing, he made it right.”
Is being a winner at Daytona better than you ever thought?
“Oh yeah. You can dream about this. I’ve dreamed about this I can’t tell you how long. I’ve dreamed about this since I was seven years old. Nothing describes the feeling. I’ve had very few days like this in my life to have this much elation. My marriage day, a couple other wins, the K&N championship, but this is right up there with all of them. This is Daytona. You don’t even need to explain that. This is Daytona. I’m going to enjoy every second of it.”
JOHN HUNTER NEMECHEK, No. 4 Fire Alarm Services Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 7th
Solid start to your season, John Hunter. How was your race as a whole?
“I felt like our race was okay – or decent at least. I feel like we had a really fast Fire Alarm Services Toyota Tundra. We made gains through the weekend. I felt like we were pretty good right off of the truck. Eric (Phillips, crew chief) and all of the guys at KBM (Kyle Busch Motorsports) gave us a really good truck that we could contend with. I felt good about our chances overall tonight. We stayed up there in stage one, and ended up winning stage two. In stage three, we did a strategy call. We took tires and it put us behind a little bit and never could get back to the front. I felt like we got trapped back there. We were making our way back up there towards the end and then we ended up getting caught up in the second-to-last wreck. It kind of sandwiched the truck, and I got tagged in the left rear and spun out. We had tires go down and damage. We started in the back on the final restart on the green-white-checkered. I was able to somehow get a pretty good suck going down the back and made it to the bottom lane in (turns) three and four. I got down and they all started wrecking almost to the tri-oval. They wrecked a bunch of them, somehow we managed to make it through that without getting in the grass and wrecking and came home seventh. Overall, really solid points day. I’m looking forward to the rest of the year, and this is just a start of what we can do.”
CHANDLER SMITH, No. 18 Safelite Auto Glass Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 9th
How would you rate your debut at Daytona? Is this a successful start to your first full-time season?
“Yes and no. We came down here with a championship-caliber team, a championship-caliber truck worth winning and we didn’t win the race and we were in position to. It was a rookie mistake by me. I should have known better with him sitting on my door like that, even on a speedway like this with how flat it gets off (turn) four, sooner or later that was what was going to happen and it was going to lead to even worse disaster. We paid the price for it, but my Safelite Toyota guys got me back out there and we got rolling and we still salvaged a decent points day.”
DREW DOLLAR, No. 51 JBL Toyota Tundra, Kyle Busch Motorsports
Finishing Position: 10th
Top-10 in your debut. How was your race tonight?
“I think the number one thing is we got another Toyota to Victory Lane, and I feel like I played a little bit of a role in that, so I’m proud of that. We had a really fast Tundra. We were just smart all night. My JBL Tundra was really fast. It drove really well. We had a few times where we got out of shape a little bit but overall I think we called a good race and was in the perfect position and things just didn’t work out, but I’m looking forward to the rest of the season with Toyota.”
STEWART FRIESEN, No. 52 Halmar Toyota Tundra, Halmar-Friesen Racing
Finishing Position: 32nd
You talked about having to keep your nose clean in order to finish this race. How difficult was that?
“It was extremely difficult. It was extremely frustrating. It seemed like the tires were wearing out, and we were losing grip – at least our truck wasn’t really into the track. We just didn’t execute a smart strategy to try to survive the race. We got ourselves in a bad spot and I just got stuck and ran into the back of a couple of guys and ultimately got taken out, while we were in the bee’s nest there. It’s unfortunate for Halmar, all of our partners. We just have to do a better job next time.”
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