Connect with us

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series

Rhodes Edges Friesen For Final Championship 4 Spot

(Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Seven drivers, three spots.

That’s what it came down to Saturday afternoon to clinch a Championship 4 spot in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Ty Majeski had locked himself into the championship by winning Bristol, meaning he had nothing to lose.

Chandler Smith and Zane Smith had points advantages of 30 and 18, respectively, meaning an uneventful race would lock them both in. Ben Rhodes held the final Playoff spot by three points over Christian Eckes and Stewart Friesen, and John Hunter Nemechek sat two points behind them. Grant Enfinger could also clinch a spot with a win.

Nemechek hit the wall and blew tires on two separate occasions in Stage 1, putting him several laps down and out of contention.

“Just made a mistake on my end,” Nemechek. “I got dirtied up behind the 52 (Stewart Friesen) early on in stage on and hit the fence and just trying to make up time and was pushing the issue probably a little too hard. Ultimately pushed it a little too hard, hit the fence again and had the right front go flat. Came in, pitted and ended up not clearing tires good enough and had another tire go down and had to pit again.”

Rhodes won Stage 1 and Friesen finished third, meaning Rhodes slightly extended his points cushion. Friesen finished Stage 2 in fourth, one point ahead of Rhodes. Eckes finished both stages behind both Rhodes and Friesen, putting him further below the cutline.

Simply put, Friesen needed to finish the race five spots above Rhodes to transfer to the Championship 4. Friesen rode in third for most of the final stage, while Rhodes held seventh. At that point, they were tied, but Rhodes held the tiebreaker.

Stewart Friesen fell two points short of a Championship 4 berth. (Photo: Luis Torres | The Podium Finish)

Rhodes raced around teammates Eckes and Matt Crafton in the final stage, and he passed Eckes in the closing laps for an insurance point.

Majeski won the race, meaning a driver below the cutline wouldn’t alter the Playoff picture. Friesen fell two points short, while Rhodes, the defending series champion, claimed the final spot.

“Fighting with my teammate there for the last few laps and every spot matters,” Rhodes said. “I wish it was easier. Seemed harder than it should have. And just really glad I can defend the title. It’s been an up-and-down season and we aren’t the best at mile-and-a-halves, but we’ve made leaps and bounds here.

“I think it’s going to be tough [to defend]… I’m thrilled with the last two races, and we’ve really turned everything around and made it back in.”

But Friesen saw the closing laps differently.

“I didn’t have a teammate to lay over and give me an extra point like they were doing in the back,” Friesen told FS1. “That’s the best truck we’ve ever had here. We had just a beautiful race car today. It was so fun to drive.”

Eckes finished 10 points below the cutline, while Enfinger and Nemechek finished 43 and 50 points below, respectively.

Majeski will race Rhodes, Chandler Smith and Zane Smith for the championship at Phoenix Raceway on Friday, Nov. 4 at 10:00 p.m. ET on FS1.


Nathan Solomon serves as the managing editor of The Podium Finish. He has been part of the team since 2021 and is accredited by the National Motorsports Press Association. Solomon is a senior in the Jandoli School of Communication at St. Bonaventure University. Contact him at

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series