Rhodes to 100 (Part 2)

Ben Rhodes tackles Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2019. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones / The Podium Finish.)

Ben Rhodes tackles Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2019. (Photo Credit: Josh Jones / The Podium Finish.)

Yesterday, I shared part one of my interview with Ben Rhodes as we reflected on his 99 starts in the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series. For the rest of our time, we talked about the current season, reacclimating to the track, and 2020 goals.

 

Readjusting

Terra Jones: Was it difficult to get readjusted to being back on track after the long hiatus?

Ben Rhodes: It’s normal to have that ebb and flow during the year…. What I didn’t like was that I was going to Atlanta before all of this stuff broke out…I felt good, was comfortable with the trucks, and actually had bought some new seats, new belts, new HANS, all this new equipment to use. I got everything in the truck, fitted correctly, and we show up to Atlanta and I don’t even get to use it.

So then you have a couple months off where you need to get reacclimated to the truck, let alone all this new equipment. I was kinda torn going to Charlotte. Do I use my old stuff?  Do I use the new stuff? I ended up using the new stuff, but I’ll admit it took me a couple laps to get comfortable. That ebb and flow is natural, but hopping into a new seat, it took me a minute!

Ben Rhodes overcame a unique situation in readjusting to being back on track after the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff, Fall Martinsville 2019 / The Podium Finish.)

 

Focus on 2020

Jones: With your strong start to 2020, how confident do you feel about your chances to win races this season?

Rhodes: I feel pretty confident about it. It’s funny, Charlotte was such a disappointing race for me. I honestly thought that we could have done better there…We have certain expectations and goals. When you go into a race and you don’t meet your goals for that race, it’s aggravating. Because my standards for how we should be competing…the caliber of equipment we have, I have high standards for that. We didn’t meet them, so I was a little bit angry.

But, if that’s the worst we’re going to finish…then I hope that that bodes well for the season and that it’s gonna be a good year for us…we’ve really gotta work hard and just be smart about these upcoming races, because with no practice, no qualifying, that can be tricky for my young team…but we just have to be way more precise now. But I’m confident in my team. I know we can go out and win races. We have the equipment to do it. We just gotta put it all together so that when we unload, we’re very consistent.

Rhodes looks for top 10s and wins for the No. 99 team in 2020. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Huff, Fall Martinsville 2019 / The Podium Finish.)

Goals in Sight

Jones: Finally, looking ahead to the remainder of the season. What are some goals that you and your crew chief, Matt Noyce, have for 2020?

Rhodes: Unless there’s a mechanical failure or we get involved in some sort of on-track incident, I don’t want to finish outside the top 10. I’ve always been one to have really high goals, and if I don’t meet ‘em, then I’m angry and that’s motivation to do better next time. I find anything outside the top 10 to be a failure for that race weekend…. So, top 10s for us. I would at least like to get a couple of poles for us this year – without the random draw! That would be validation knowing that we can build fast trucks, we can set ‘em up properly and we can go out there and execute, and qualify better than anybody else. That would be some good validation for our team…

Obviously we want some wins, but a regular-season championship would be nice. After Enfinger got that last year, it really opened my eyes to what that can do for your season and how much it can really help you in the Playoffs. We’re third in points right now…it’s not unattainable. We can definitely do it, I’m 21 points out. If we can just keep putting good races together and don’t finish outside the top 10, I would really like to get that regular-season championship. 

 

Follow Ben Rhodes on Twitter along with ThorSport Racing to keep up to date with the Truck Series team.

Thank you again, Ben,  for taking the time to talk about your time in the Truck Series. Good luck this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway and congratulations on 100 starts.

Terra Jones

As a life-long NASCAR fan and lover of words, I'm fortunate enough to put the two together here at The Podium Finish to bring our readers and motorsports fans news, features, and interviews from the world of wheels. Originally from the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia, I moved westward to graduate from Middle Tennessee State University. I now reside in central North Carolina with my husband, our three boys, and our dog, Charlotte. While my heart is at the race track, I also enjoy watching baseball, as well as college football and basketball. 

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