Rhodes and Crafton trade tense words at Mid-Ohio

LEXINGTON, Ohio — Casey Campbell, Taylor Kitchen, Michael Kristi and I stood on pit road, waiting to talk to the top-five finishers of the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series’ second trip to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course. Suddenly, I hear Mike Bagley of MRN Radio say Matt Crafton and Ben Rhodes are fighting. I gazed at Rhodes’ truck and see a frustrated Crafton walk away, right past us.

When Rhodes joined us in the media bullpen, we all had one thing on our minds.

What happened?

“My conversation went like this: ‘Calm down, calm down, Matt. Please calm down! We’ll talk later,'” he said.

What was Crafton angry about?

Well with two laps to go in the O’Reilly Auto Parts 150, as Corey Heim pulled away to victory, Rhodes and Crafton made contact in the keyhole.

“He broke early,” he said. “I guess he was just riding. I broke late because I’m still on a charge from the rear and I got to about side by side with him in the braking zone and I don’t think he knew I was there.”

Crafton moved down to apex Turn 2 while Rhodes checked up and the latter’s nose hit the former’s tail. Crafton got loose and Rhodes overtook him to finish fifth. While Crafton came home sixth.

“I don’t know if he was just frustrated from other stuff in the race,” he said.

“Other stuff in the race” includes staying out on wet tires under the first stage break, while everyone else pitted for dry tires. Unsurprisingly, the slicks prevailed over the wets.

“I’m sure there was something else there in the race going on and I’m just a familiar face to vent to. So it is what it is.”

After the bullpen session, I walked to Crafton’s hauler to get his side of the story, but he declined my request for comment.

Regardless, Crafton leaves Mid-Ohio with a one point lead over Stewart Friesen for the final playoff spot. Meanwhile, Rhodes’ one win locked him into the playoffs, with two races left in the regular season.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com

Tucker White
Tucker White
I've followed NASCAR for well over 20 years of my life, both as a fan and now as a member of the media. As of 2024, I'm on my ninth season as a traveling NASCAR beat writer. For all its flaws and dumb moments, NASCAR at its best produces some of the best action you'll ever see in the sport of auto racing. Case in point: Kyle Larson's threading the needle pass at Darlington Raceway on May 9, 2021. On used-up tires, racing on a worn surface and an aero package that put his car on the razor's edge of control, Larson demonstrated why he's a generational talent. Those are the stories I want to capture and break down. In addition to NASCAR, I also follow IndyCar and Formula 1. As a native of Knoxville, Tennessee, and a graduate of the University of Tennessee, I'm a diehard Tennessee Volunteers fan (especially in regards to Tennessee football). If covering NASCAR doesn't kill me, down the road, watching Tennessee football will. I'm also a diehard fan of the Atlanta Braves, and I lived long enough to see them win a World Series for the first time since 1995 (when I was just a year old). I've also sworn my fan allegiance to the Nashville Predators, though that's not paid out as much as the Braves. Furthermore, as a massive sports dork, I follow the NFL on a weekly basis. Though it's more out of an obligation than genuine passion (for sports dorks, following the NFL is basically an unwritten rule). Outside of sports, I'm a major cinema buff and a weeb. My favorite film is "Blazing Saddles" and my favorite anime is "Black Lagoon."


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