Ben Rhodes snags Daytona Road Course Truck win in 3OTs
In a race dominated by cautions, it was a caution that secured Ben Rhodes’ second consecutive NASCAR Truck Series victory to start the 2021 season.
Rhodes led the way on the start of the third two-lap overtime and managed to remain out front to take the white flag, but as he tried to fend off a charge from Sheldon Creed on the final lap, the caution was displayed again for a truck stopped in the frontstretch chicane.
Rhodes made it back to the checkered flag under caution to secure his win Friday night on the Daytona International Speedway Road Course – one week after his victory on the Daytona oval to start the year.
“It’s unbelievable – I don’t have words for it,” Rhodes said. “I don’t know what to say, this is so cool. I just have to thank my team. ThorSport Racing gave me a truck that handled well and we were fast.
“I’m just thrilled. I don’t what to say. I’ve been on ‘Cloud Nine’ all week and I don’t know what’s above that.”
The win is the fifth of Rhodes’ career and 2021 is now the first season in which he has won more than one race. The victory was also the 200th in the Truck Series for Toyota Racing.
John Hunter Nemechek finished third, Todd Gilliland was fourth and Riley Herbst rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 2 and 3, most of the lead-lap trucks elected to pit with most taking on slick tires if they hadn’t already switched over from wet weather tires.
Raphael Lessard stayed on the track and remained in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 28, followed by Kaz Grala, Matt Crafton and Creed.
Creed quickly powered to the lead on the restart as Crafton moved into second.
With 13 to go, Niece Motorsport teammates Ryan Truex and Carson Hocevar got caught up in an accident leaving pit road.
Hocevar appeared to hit the sand barrels while leaving pit road and Truex slammed into the back of him. Timothy Peters also collected damage from the incident.
During the caution, Creed failed to keep pace with the pace truck and NASCAR penalized him fourth spots for not maintaining speed.
On the restart on Lap 36, Herbst led the way followed by Stewart Friesen, Rhodes, Chandler Smith and Creed.
Through the infield, Rhodes got around Herbst to retake the lead as Creed moved into second.
Moffitt got into Zane Smith just before the entrance of the frontstretch chicane on Lap 37 to bring out another caution. Parker Chase also spun out in the incident.
When the race restarted on Lap 39, Rhodes remained the leader followed by Creed, Herbst and Friesen.
NASCAR displayed the caution again on Lap 40 as two different trucks – Spencer Boyd and Austin Hill – were stalled on the track. The race returned to green on Lap 42 with Rhodes still in command.
Creed got around Rhodes in the infield to reclaim the lead and then the race went back under caution as Tanner Gray and Sam Mayer wrecked, sending the race into overtime.
Rhodes grabbed the lead in Turn 1 but just as he was about to take the white flag, another caution came out for multiple trucks stopped on the course.
Rhodes led the way on the start of the second overtime followed by Creed, Nemechek, Herbst and Grala.
Jennifer Jo Cobb stalled on the track shortly after the restart, sending the race into a third overtime. Rhodes remained out front on the restart.
Lessard claimed the Stage 2 win under caution as John Hunter Nemechek’s No. 4 Toyota came to a stop on the track, forcing NASCAR to display a caution on Lap 24.
Grala finished second, Zane Smith third, Austin Wayne Self was fourth and Gilliland rounded out the top-five.
Following the break between Stages 1 and 2, several trucks elected to pit but Nemechek remained on the track and in the lead.
Chase Purdy had to restart from the rear of the field due to a safety violation during his pit stop.
When the race returned to green on Lap 15, Nemechek was followed by Creed, Chandler Smith, Brett Moffitt and Ryan Truex.
Exiting the infield course after the restart, Creed got around Nemechek to take the lead.
On Lap 16, Bobby Reuse got into the driver’s door of Creed’s No. 2 Chevrolet as Creed was putting him a lap down but the damage did not appear to be significant.
On Lap 20, Zane Smith got around Lessard to move into the second position, 3.4 seconds behind Creed.
With five laps remaining in the stage, Creed maintained an almost 3-second lead as Nemechek reclaimed the second spot.
With four laps to go, Nemechek appeared to fall off the pace and complained about a loss of power.
Creed elected to make a green-flag pit stop on Lap 22 handing the lead over to Lessard.
NASCAR displayed a caution on Lap 23 as Nemechek could not get his No. 4 Toyota re-fired after coming to a stop near the backstretch chicane.
After trading the lead with Creed in a one-lap dash to the finish, Nemechek came away with the Stage 1 victory, his second of the 2021 season.
Chandler Smith was third, Moffitt was fourth and Truex rounded out the top-five.
Rhodes, who started on the pole, got through a mess in Turn 1 and maintained the lead but Nemechek ran him down to move out front as they both exited superspeedway Turn 2.
Halfway through the first stage, Nemechek had built up a more than 2.2-second lead over Creed followed by Rhodes and Truex.
A caution was displayed on Lap 9 when Cory Roper went around in Turn 3 and was able to restart his truck.
Several teams elected to pit but Nemechek remained on the track and in the lead when the race returned to green on Lap 12.
NASCAR declared the start of the race would be a “wet weather” start and allowed teams to add rain tires before leaving pit road.