After finishing runner-up in the inaugural Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt last season, Ben Rhodes has come back to Bristol Motor Speedway and conquered the track’s dirt surface, in what can only be described as a dominant performance.
The defending series champion started the race in second but emerged from turn two with the lead on the race’s opening lap. From there, Rhodes would go on to lead the first 91 laps consecutively, before having to relinquish the lead at the end of stage two.
This ill-timed pit stop was the result of a blunder by Rhodes, in which the No. 99 Toyota Tundra stayed on the track at the end of the first stage, instead of coming to the pit road as directed.
As the race began its final stage, Carson Hocevar and John Hunter Nemechek would take control of the race, as both Ben Rhodes and his teammate Ty Majeski would attempt to snake their way through the pack.
Rhodes was able to claw his way back into the top five through a rash of cautions and restarts, putting himself in the optimal position of being on the outside of the second row for the race’s final restart with five laps to go.
Hocevar – who led a career-high 55 laps in Saturday’s event — fought as hard as possible to hold onto the lead, until a slide job by Rhodes caught the Niece Motorsports driver off guard, allowing the No. 99 to sneak by and to the victory.
The Portage, Michigan-native tied his career-best run in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with a second-place finish. John Hunter Nemechek finished in third, with Parker Kligerman and Christian Eckes rounding out the top five.
Joey Logano, Chase Elliott, Grant Enfinger, Matt Crafton, and Zane Smith rounded out the top-10 in Saturday’s 150-lap event, while dirt racing veteran Stewart Friesen rebounded for 11th after a late-race pit stop.
Exiting Bristol, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series will take a two-week break before going to Darlington Raceway, where Ben Rhodes will look to further extend his 38-point advantage over Chandler Smith in the series standings.