Ben Rhodes wrapped up a perfect pair of race outings at Daytona International Speedway, answering his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series victory on the oval last week with a dramatic win Friday night on the infield road course.
It took three overtime starts to secure the victory over 2020 series champion Sheldon Creed, but Rhodes’ work in the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota marked only the third time in series history a driver has opened the season with back-to-back wins. And it marked the 200th victory for Toyota in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
Rhodes, 23, of Louisville, Ky., crossed the finish line .320-seconds ahead of Creed with the running order frozen, however, when a caution — one of 10 on the night came out with a half-lap remaining in overtime.
John Hunter Nemechek, who won Stage 1 and led 14 laps on the night, finished third. Todd Gilliland, who started 31st, rallied to an impressive fourth-place finish and Riley Herbst rounded out the top five.
Matt Crafton, Derek Kraus, Kaz Grala, Timmy Hill and Christian Eckes completed the top 10. Rookie Hailie Deegan was running in the top-10 until a spin on the final lap of overtime. She finished 28th.
“Unbelievable, I don’t even have words for it,” Rhodes said after climbing out of this truck just below the flag-stand on the frontstretch. “I don’t even know what to say, this is so cool.
“I just have to thank my team. The Bombardier Tundra was fast all day. ThorSport Racing gave me a truck that handled this year and we were fast. Rich (Lushes is a really good crew chief. It’s good to be paired up with him and all of the guys on my team. I’m just thrilled. I don’t know what to say. I’ve been on cloud nine all week, so it’s above that. I’m just so happy.”
Certainly, Rhodes was in a celebratory mood following the race, but it was a tense finish. He was about 50-yards shy of the flag-stand on the first overtime period when a caution came out extending the race instead of earning him the trophy then.