By Reid Spencer
NASCAR Wire Service
Published: 3 Nov, 2022
2 Minute Read
ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes hasn’t been front-and-center lately, but runner-up finishes in each of the first two rounds of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs (at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park and Talladega Superspeedway, respectively) were enough to propel him into Friday night’s Lucas Oil 150 title event at Phoenix Raceway (10 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio).
Accordingly, Rhodes will try to defend the championship he won with a third-place finish in last year’s title race at Phoenix. If he’s successful, Rhodes will be the second driver to win back-to-back championships in the division. Teammate Matt Crafton (2013-14) is the only driver to have accomplished the feat so far.
RELATED: Weekend schedule for Phoenix | Ranking the Championship 4 drivers
Rhodes claimed his only victory of the season on the Bristol Dirt Track in April. Teammate Ty Majeski, on the other hand, arrives at Phoenix with considerably more momentum, having won two of the last three races, at Bristol (pavement) and Homestead-Miami Speedway.
In the title race, the ThorSport Racing drivers will face off against two Smiths – Zane and Chandler (no relation).
Zane Smith will be trying to break out of the runner-up rut on Friday. He has finished second in the final Truck Series standings for two straight seasons, he enters the Phoenix race second in points, and he has collected five second-place finishes without a win in his last 11 Truck Series starts.
Both Smiths have posted three victories this season. Though he didn’t qualify for the Championship 4 last season, Chandler won the season finale at Phoenix from the pole.
“I feel like last year, the last three quarters of last year, we showed what we were going to have in store for this year,” Chandler said. “We were really good at the end of last year-started getting wins and running up front every single week and were the truck to beat almost every other week-where the year before we were hit-or-miss.
“We ended up getting our stuff together, we were more consistent, winning races and I told the guys next year we are out for blood-we’re going to go get them next year. And look, we’re sitting here talking about running for a championship, and it has just been an amazing experience.”