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Feb 19, 2014 - 02:22 PM
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Ben Rhodes Earns First-Career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Pole at Daytona
Posted by: newsla on Feb 19, 2014 - 02:20 PM
NASCAR News
Ben Rhodes Earns First-Career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Pole at Daytona


After starting second and finishing fourth in the season-opening event in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East at New Smyrna Speedway a few days earlier, earning the Rookie of the Race award, 16-year-old, Louisville, Kentucky, native and NASCAR Next driver Ben Rhodes headed to Daytona International Speedway to race in the UNOH Battle at the Beach, the second points event of the 2014 racing season. While Rhodes finished 15th after getting swept up in a wreck that damaged his No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet Impala with Turner Scott Motorsports, he capitalized on his trip to Florida earlier in the day by earning his first-career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East pole position.

 

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Rhodes timed in third quick in the first practice and fastest in the second leading into qualifying. Going out on track 11th of the 30 cars, Rhodes put the Team Alpha car on the pole, holding on to the top spot and earning his first-career pole in the series in his ninth try.

“Mark (McFarland, crew chief) and the Turner Scott Motorsports team gave me a great car all day,” said Rhodes. “I was happy with my qualifying time, but I was nervous watching the rest of the cars go out. I have been in that position before in Late Models and got bumped off the pole with a few cars left. When the last car took the checkered flag and I was told I had it, I was relieved.

“It was pretty cool to finally get my first 21 Means 21 pole,” continued Rhodes. “We have had two really good qualifying efforts so far this year with a second and a first. Hopefully we can keep doing that throughout the entire year.”

Taking the green flag from the point, Rhodes dropped into second and paced himself early on to save the tires. However, on a restart, he was sent high, losing several spots. After getting back to second and riding in that position past the halfway point, two slower cars ahead the leaders were lapping tangled. Rhodes couldn’t avoid the spinning car, causing his No. 41 Chevy to receive significant front-end damage, requiring him to pit for repairs.

Rhodes returned to the race a lap down in the back of the field, and late in the race he was able to get his lap back, but could only battle back up to 15th when the checkered flag flew.

“That was very frustrating,” said Rhodes. “We had a great car and we were just riding in second waiting until later in the race. I am not sure what those guys were doing up there, but there was nowhere for me to go to avoid getting in that wreck.

“The entire Turner Scott Motorsports team came over to help get my car back on the track. It was tore up, but the car was still handling good. I didn’t push too hard there as I thought I had the free pass a few times to get back on the lead lap and I was waiting for that before pushing the car to get to the front. We were finally able to get on the lead lap and pick up a few spots at the end. We still had a fast car but ran out of laps.”

Despite the end result not being what he wanted, Rhodes was happy with his Florida performance.

“There are things you can and cannot control. The things we could control my Team Alpha guys did a great job at and we were fast for both races down here. Wrecks happen in this sport and what happened at the UNOH Battle at the Beach was to be expected. We still salvaged a decent finish from what it could have been and we will look forward to Bristol next month.”

Rhodes currently sits seventh in points after two races, 27 points behind the leader.

In 2014, Rhodes is sponsored by Alpha Energy Solutions as well as Alliance Comfort Systems, Kentucky National Guard, Refrigerant Rescue, and Park Community Federal Credit Union.

The next event in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will be the “PittLite 125” at Bristol Motor Speedway (TN) on Saturday, March 15th.



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