MARTINSVILLE, Va. — It was a happy ending at Martinsville Speedway on Saturday for Ben Rhodes, who finished second in the No. 99 ThorSport Racing Ford after starting 16th in the TruNorth Global 250. That kind of rebound was just what the doctor ordered for the young team in its fourth race of the 2019 NASCAR Gander Outdoors Truck Series season.
Rhodes, who is competing in his fourth full-time season, had been off to a slow start, with a fifth-place showing in Atlanta sandwiched by finishes of 14th in Daytona and 25th in Las Vegas.
Saturday’s runner-up finish marked the start of something good, according to 22-year-old Rhodes.
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“This was just a solid rebound to get everybody pumped up and ready to attack the rest of the season,” he said.
But if it wasn’t for the work of the No. 99 pit crew, Rhodes wasn’t “quite sure that we’d get a finish like that after qualifying so bad.”
“My pit crew has done an amazing job,” he said. “I give a lot of credit to the guys on the pit box and the pit crew for getting me my spots today. We came in, they made a really good call and before I knew it I was up front — thanks to them.”
Rhodes’ ThorSport team is made up of guys primarily in their early to late 20s, working together for the first time. Although Rhodes finished fifth in the standings last season and notched his second career victory, it wasn’t a seamless transition to this season.
“I mean, I’m 22, my engineer is 24 and my spotter is, like, 27,” Rhodes said. “This is an all new team, new trucks, everything is different. I feel like we’re logging notes and we’re getting better with our setups as we go. I know what we’ve got to do to get better — it’s just a matter of doing it.”
The Truck Series heads to Texas Motor Speedway next weekend and the momentum of back-to-back race weekends is something that the No. 99 team is eager to capitalize on.
“It makes a difference,” Rhodes said. “Running back-to-back with a young team like mine, we’re all new together, we have to keep this momentum going and that’s what I’m happy about with this finish.”