Could Chicagoland finally be the race where Ben Rhodes turns his season around? The Kentucky native certainly hopes so.
“This weekend at Chicagoland Speedway, it’s all about getting our No. 41 Ford F-150 team back on the right track,” says Rhodes. “We’ve had a rough go of it the past few weeks and have lost a lot of points. Getting a win for the playoffs is going to be our way in.”
Five races into the season, Rhodes was second in the Camping World Truck Series points standings on the strength of four top-ten finishes. However, in the last five races, his season has spiraled out of control. Rhodes has one top-five to go along with four finishes of 16th or worse. As a result, Rhodes is now eighth in the points standings and squarely on the bubble for making the playoffs.
“We’re just beyond belief at this point,” said Rhodes, following his 19th-place finish last week at Gateway. “We’re not really sure why it keeps happening to us.”
In a backup truck, Rhodes overcame a flat tire on the first lap at Gateway to contend for a top five. But just seven laps from the finish, his battery died and the truck needed a push back to pit road. The week prior at Iowa, Rhodes was involved in two separate crashes, not of his own making, and finished five laps off the pace.
And then there are the mysterious engine issues that plagued Rhodes at Kansas and Texas.
“The engine literally will go from full power to about five percent power, if that. It basically just cuts off,” said Rhodes after the Texas race. He was running second when the engine went sour.
Rhodes can only hope his engine woes, and all around bad luck, are behind him. Moving forward, his focus is points, points, and more points.
“Our goal is to run safe and get as many points back as we can,” says Rhodes. “We need to be upfront in the stages, collecting as many points as possible throughout the race. If a win presents itself, we’re going to have to take it. If we have to ruffle feathers, that’s what we’re going to do. At this point, my sole focus is on the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions team and doing everything it takes to get ourselves back into contention, to get into the playoffs, and contend for the championship.”
So far, Rhodes is off to a good start. He was second fastest during final practice on Thursday.