Rhodes wins at Iowa with well-executed strategy
May 17, 2014, Brad Norman, NASCAR.com
17-year-old has won two of his last three races
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NEWTON, Iowa -- The only thing missing for Ben Rhodes was a burnout. But he even executed that plan perfectly.
With a car that performed wonderfully on a track that changed as the temperatures dropped, Rhodes followed orders and saved his tires once he took the lead in Saturday night's K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway, allowing drivers to close in on him but not get close enough to pass. Once he took the checkered flag for his second win in the past three races, he got a message on the radio.
"Oh man, I really wanted to do one," Rhodes said after his win in the Casey's General Store 125. "On the radio they said 'Don't burn the motor down. You do not do a burn out.' They told me I can do one if I win the championship later in the year, so I have to earn it.
"I've actually never done one before, ever. The first burnout is going to be a little tricky. I have to figure out how to do it."
Time's running out, because Rhodes looks to be a championship contender in the K&N Pro Series East. His Saturday victory was the second in six races this season for the 17-year-old, who is one of 12 members of the NASCAR Next Class of 2014. Rhodes now has two wins and a runner-up finish in the past three races, which has allowed him to take theK&N Pro Series East points lead through six of 14 races.
The high school junior was fittingly greeted in Victory Lane by a jubilant team -- who promptly sprayed the driver with bottles of cider.
"Coming off the turns, I didn't think anyone can catch me -- you get so much momentum at this place," Rhodes said. "I felt like we had such a good car, that if I saved my stuff no one could catch me as long as I kept them off my bumper."
Nick Drake finished second and Scott Heckert finished third, career-high showings for both drivers.
David Mayhew finished ninth overall, but it goes down as a series victory for him -- he was the highest finishing driver from the K&N Pro Series West, and Saturday's event was a combined K&N Pro Series race with drivers from both the East and the West in the field.