Ben Rhodes entered Texas Motor Speedway already in a must-win situation after a poor finish last weekend at Kansas Speedway, but a pair of late-race incidents in Sunday’s SpeedyCash.com 400 relegated the driver of the Tenda Heal F-150 to 20th-place, moving him to a whopping 45 points below the cut line entering Martinsville, remaining in a must-win situation if he wants to advance to the Championship 4 at Phoenix Raceway.
However, many are questioning whether or not Rhodes should even be in a truck at Martinsville, after the Lousiville, Kentucky-native was involved in a questionable accident with Kyle Busch Motorsports driver Christian Eckes on lap 146, with Rhodes appearing to right-rear Eckes’ No. 18 Toyota Tundra hard into the outside SAFER barrier.
Ben Rhodes hooks Christian Eckes and sends him into the wall.
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) October 25, 2020
Justifiably, Eckes was upset about the incident with Rhodes, giving the No. 99 “the double bird” as it drove by Eckes’ wrecked truck under the yellow. Jerry Jordan – from Kickin’ The Tires — caught the interaction on video and posted it to his Twitter account:
— Jerry Jordan (@JerryJordan_KTT) October 25, 2020
Here fixed it pic.twitter.com/lxtz0eybFu
— Lucas (@LucasLaBonte) October 25, 2020
The radio communications between Rhodes and his ThorSport Racing team – heard on Fox Sports 1’s live coverage of the event — seemed fairly unforgiving on Rhodes’ end, essentially admitting to wrecking the No. 18 on purpose, leading many to wonder why NASCAR didn’t step in and park the 23-year-old.
What made Rhodes’ day even worse, was the second accident that the No. 99 Ford F-150 was involved in after contact from Christian Eckes’ teammate Chandler Smith, also collecting Josh Bilicki’s Reaume Brothers Racing Toyota Tundra in the process. Bilicki was very upset about the incident and took to social media following the event to share his feelings on the last-lap incident, saying “You have WAY more to lose than we do at Martinsville.”
What made Rhodes’ day even worse, was the second accident that he was involved in after contact from Eckes’ teammate Chandler Smith, also collecting Josh Bilicki’s Reaume Brothers Racing Toyota Tundra in the process. Bilicki was upset about the incident and took to social media following the event to share his feelings.
Hey @benrhodes, what the hell was that? We had a great run going for our small @RBR_Teams and was inside the top 15 with one to go until #99 just flat out dumped us. Just remember, you have WAY more to lose than we do at Martinsville. 🖕🏻🖕🏻
— Josh Bilicki (@joshbilicki) October 25, 2020
Rhodes clapped back on Twitter minutes later, saying “He [Smith] admitted and said it was payback for his teammate. Watch a replay if they have one. I told your crew the same thing and they heard him say it.”
If you are going to be mad at anybody, be mad at the guy who admitted to wrecking me on purpose while I was underneath you. He admitted and said it was payback for his teammate. Watch a replay if they have one. I told your crew the same thing and they heard him say it. #Fact https://t.co/eFv6dhWk8F
— Ben Rhodes (@benrhodes) October 25, 2020
Josh Reaume – owner of Josh Bilicki’s No. 00 Toyota Tundra — took to social media in response to Ben Rhodes, stating that his team never got an apology, saying “Show me footage of the 51 getting into you or I’ll make my own conclusions based on the way you raced others. You [Rhodes] clearly lied in your interview about the 18. Word means nothing, footage required.”
My team never got an apology. Show me footage of the 51 getting into you or I’ll make my own conclusions based on the way you raced others. @benrhodes You clearly lied in your interview about the 18. Word means nothing, footage required. 🎥 https://t.co/3nvPwfpATO
— Josh Reaume (@joshreaume) October 25, 2020
Rhodes’ interaction with Bilicki on social media, was not as heated as his post-race interview, making his displeasure with the Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers known in an interview with Alan Cavanna.
“These guys in the [Kyle Busch Motorsports] trucks just run over everybody and race with no respect,” said Rhodes. “… now everybody wants to fight us for incidents that I’m put into, and it all comes from the KBM guys. The kid driving the 51 [Chandler Smith] has wrecked off of me three, four times this year and then wrecks me going into turn two. I don’t know seems to be a lack of talent over there, it seems evident with Kyle [Busch] goes and hops into the truck and wins.”
"It seems to be a lack of talent [at KBM]."
— FOX: NASCAR (@NASCARONFOX) October 25, 2020
Eckes was spotted standing outside of Ben Rhodes’ hauler, waiting for the ThorSport driver. The two had a legthy conversation before a little bit of pushing and shoving broke out at the end.
Long conversation ended with a pushing/shoving. NASCAR security there to intervene. pic.twitter.com/f6S2sKaoj1
— Alan Cavanna (@AlanCavanna) October 25, 2020
Max Neuwirth (@racingfan83) posted to Twitter the radio communication from team owner Josh Reaume, giving the team’s address and saying: “ThorSport better have a new truck for me at my shop, or mark my words whatever contender that they have, ain’t gonna be a good race for them.”
— Max Neuwirth (@racingfan83) October 25, 2020