By Luis Torres, Staff Writer
Lady luck reared its ugly head once again for Ben Rhodes at Kansas Speedway as for the second straight year, his bid for victory backfired as another mechanical woe knocked him out of contention during Friday’s 37 Kind Days 250.
Unlike his heartbreaking engine failure while leading with eight laps to go last year, Rhodes finished the race, but was only credited with an 18th place finish, his worst of the season.
The seventh place starter was gradually moving up the leader board and after 40 laps, he was in fourth. Rhodes reported that his No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Ford F-150 required tire wear in order to gain track position after running to free in Stage 1.
Then his No. 41 Alpha Energy Soultions pit crew got the job done during pit stops, exiting him out in second for the start of Stage 2.
A solid restart by Rhodes got him the race lead for a lap before Gragson controlled the race once again. A few laps later, Rhodes kept cutting Gragson’s lead down and appeared he may be a threat for the race win, but that was short lived.
With 14 laps to go in Stage 2, mechanical issues resulted Rhodes’ truck powering on and off in Turn 2. Rhodes had no choice but to pit and find a diagnosis.
The crew lifted up the hood and an Illmor member went into Rhodes’ pit box and searched for answers. Rather than retire from the race, Rhodes returned to the track in 21st, three laps down.
Another blow to Rhodes’ night soon followed, too many members went over the wall brought him back to pit road and served a pass through penalty, solidifying that his chances of redemption was terminated.
Rhodes brought his truck home without additional problems, but was five laps behind Gragson, who scored his second career Camping World Truck Series win.
After entering Kansas 51 markers behind points leader Johnny Sauter, Rhodes lost 14 points to Sauter and two spots in the standings.
Rhodes will look to bounce back and improve from an eighth place finish last year at Charlotte Motor Speedway May 18th.