Ben Rhodes wins Bristol Dirt battle over Carson Hocevar

Carson Hocevar has been searching for his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win and it appeared to finally be in reach during Friday’s Pinty’s Truck Race on Dirt at Bristol Motor Speedwaybut Ben Rhodes left him waiting for another day. Both drivers led all 150 laps, but Rhodes dominated the event by sweeping both stages. Although Hocevar led much of the final segment, Rhodes passed him shortly after a restart with four laps remaining to take his first win of 2022.

Rhodes started second alongside Joey Logano, but the former took the lead right away and hit the ground running by leading every lap in Stages #1 and #2. However, it was not smooth sailing for the reigning champion as he had missed pit road between segments; Although the stages were short enough that fuel and tires were not of utmost importance hence his domination of Stage #2, the error forced him to pit ahead of the final stage.

As Rhodes began Stage #3 in thirteenth following his stop, Hocevar—who finished the second stage in eighth—inherited the lead. After only one caution was called in each of the first two stages for Andrew Gordon and Kris Wright‘s spins, the first of the final segment occurred just four laps in for an especially bizarre incident: Austin Wayne Self rammed into Matt DiBenedetto‘s rear, accidentally causing the two trucks to become connected at the bumpers. This pseudo-tandem draft was obviously not a viable “strategy” in dirt racing, forcing the two to stop on the track and wait for crews to separate them.

Three more yellow flags flew in the stage for Keith McGee‘s spin, Chandler Smith turning Christian Eckesand Buddy Kofoid and Ty Majeski‘s spin that ended with Derek Kraus sliding into the former. The last caution set up a restart with five laps remaining. While Hocevar led the first lap, Rhodes had a run along the outside line to that he used to pass Hocevar with a crossover move. Room for Hocevar and John Hunter Nemechek‘s efforts, Rhodes pulled away.

“Second just sucks. It does. It’s terrible, especially being that close,” Hocevar told FOX Sports.

“We have Bryan Clauson‘s logo on the car and ‘m wearing the shirt still. I was hoping to be able to give him a tribute. He was definitely with me tonight. hopefully, Tim (Clauson, Bryan’s father) and everybody that he really touched was really happy seeing that BC out front again. He was definitely with me tonight running that thing as hard as we were.”

With a dirt victory, Rhodes has now won on nearly every track type in the Truck Series, if not a complete sweep depending on definition. Two of his six career wins (Kentucky and Las Vegas) came on intermediates, one (Darlington) on a more traditional oval, and a 2021 Daytona sweep for superspeedway and road course. While Bristol, being a half-mile circuit, is normally a short track, it is reasonable to balk at giving its dirt layout that label rather than the traditional asphalt. Rhodes can add the pavement version if he wins there on 15 September.

“It was a tough race once the track started to slick off,” said Rhodes. “It held moisture in different pockets around the track. It was hard to hunt for the grip, but luckily, I had a really good team behind me telling me where to go and where they tried to see it. I just tried to follow their instruction.

“I really wanted to get to the front, but it was so hard to pass. I just didn’t want to give it away. I told (FOX analyst) Michael Waltrip that nah, everything was cool. We meant to stay out, but truthfully, mistake by me. We got the stage win because of it, but you don’t want to forfeit the win, so we had to get to the front. I knew we had the truck to beat, we just had to get there.”

Race results

Finish Start Number Driver Team Manufacturer Laps Status
1 2 99 Ben Rhodes ThorSport Racing Toyota 150 Running
2 6 42 Carson Hocevar Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
3 18 4 John Hunter Nemechek Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota 150 Running
4 4 75 Parker Kligerman Henderson Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
5 19 98 Christian Eckes ThorSport Racing Toyota 150 Running
6 1 54 Joey Logano* David Gilliland Racing Ford 150 Running
7 7 7 Chase Elliott* Spire Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
8 16 23 Grant Enfinger GMS Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
9 14 88 Matt Crafton ThorSport Racing Toyota 150 Running
10 17 38 Zane Smith Front Row Motorsports Ford 150 Running
11 3 52 Stewart Friesen Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota 150 Running
12 12 91 Colby Howard McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
13 33 61 Chase Purdy Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota 150 Running
14 10 20 Austin Dillon* Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
15th 35 15th Tanner Gray David Gilliland Racing Ford 150 Running
16 27 40 Dean Thompson Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
17 21 33 Mike Marlar Reaume Brothers Racing Toyota 150 Running
18 26 1 Hailie Deegan David Gilliland Racing Ford 150 Running
19 5 18 Chandler Smith Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota 150 Running
20 23 17 Harrison Burton* David Gilliland Racing Ford 150 Running
21 8 66 Ty Majeski ThorSport Racing Toyota 150 Running
22 13 24 Jack Wood GMS Racing Chevrolet 150 Running
23 29 56 Timmy Hill Hill Motorsports Toyota 150 Running
24 34 12 Spencer Boyd Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
25 28 9 Blaine Perkins CR7 Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
26 25 02 Kaz Grala Young’s Motorsports Chevrolet 150 Running
27 32 51 Buddy Kofoid Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota 150 Running
28 24 30 Tate Fogleman On Point Motorsports Toyota 149 Running
29 15th 19 Derek Kraus McAnally-Hilgemann Racing Chevrolet 149 Running
30 31 45 Lawless Alan Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 149 Running
31 20 16 Tyler Ankrum Hattori Racing Enterprises Toyota 147 Running
32 22 49 Andrew Gordon G2G Racing Ford 146 Running
33 30 44 Kris Wright Niece Motorsports Chevrolet 146 Running
34 36 43 Keith McGee Reaume Brothers Racing Chevrolet 146 Running
35 9 25 Matt DiBenedetto Rackley WAR Chevrolet 145 Running
36 11 22 Austin Wayne Self AM Racing Chevrolet 143 Running
DNQ 62 Jessica Friesen Halmar Friesen Racing Toyota
DNQ 6 Norm Benning Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet
Italians Competing for Rookie of the Year
* – Ineligible for Truck points

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