The Camping World Truck Series is only two races old, but it’s already become Ben Rhodes versus the rest. After holding off Sheldon Creed for the win in the BrakeBest Pads 159, he became two for two at Daytona International Speedway, having won one on the main track, and the other on its road course on Friday night.
Ben Rhodes is part of a three-truck full-time ThorSport Racing entry along with 44-year old veteran Matt Crafton and Johnny Sauter, 42, who have combined for 39 series victories.
But coming off a 2020 season where the team went into the victory lane just twice, Rhodes had matched that number in only two tries. As if that wasn’t enough, the 24-year old also became just the third driver to open the season with consecutive wins.
A Louisville, Kentucky, native, Ben Rhodes broke into the Truck Series as a 17-year-old and immediately made an impression with one top-five and three top-tens in only four starts. He spent the bulk of that year in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East with five wins, six poles, 11 top-fives, and 18 top-tens.
That year he joined Joey Logano, Ryan Truex and Kyle Larson in winning the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award and the championship in the same year.
Ben Rhodes finds a home at ThorSport Racing
Despite such great numbers, Ben Rhodes could not find a full-time seat in any of the three national series, only getting ten starts with JR Motorsports.
But following that lull, Duke Thorson, the owner of ThorSport Racing, signed him, and there have been incremental improvements since, with him finishing seventh in the points standings a year ago. His two wins this year make it five overall, and it looks like 2021 will be his breakout season.
After three wins on road courses, Circuit of the Americas, Watkins Glen, and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Ben Rhodes has now proved that he can also do it on a wet surface. When he took the checkered flag in the Camping World Truck Series opener, the NextEra Energy 250, it was his second on a superspeedway, having won at Darlington last season.
Rhodes is in his seventh full-time Camping World Truck Series, and this could be a make-or-break season, his two early wins notwithstanding.
For him to get noticed by an Xfinity Series team, this is the time to do it. It is to be seen whether he ends up like his teammates Crafton and Sauter, or makes a career at this level, or finally moving up to bigger and better things. If he has the kind of season Chase Briscoe had in Xfinity in 2020, he may finally get his chance that is one step away from reaching prime time.
Meanwhile, ThorSportRacing is also poised to have its best year since 2015, when Crafton won six times. Cameron Hayley failed to win a race as the second driver of the two-truck organization then. The team is the longest-tenured in the series making its debut on July 6, 1996, at the Milwaukee Mile with Terry Cook behind the wheel. He would give TSR its first pole the following year, and win in 1998, both coming at Flemington Speedway. Ben Rhodes needs four more wins if he is to catch Crafton.