• 37°

Rhodes wins Truck Series opener with first Daytona victory

By JENNA FRYER

AP Auto Racing Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Ben Rhodes raced to his first career victory at Daytona International Speedway with a last-corner pass Friday night in the NASCAR Truck Series opener.

Rhodes was tailing Cory Roper when he slowed to hook up with teammate Matt Crafton for a push. Crafton threw a block and darted to the top, creating momentum that helped Rhodes pull even with Roper.

Multiple trucks crashed behind the leaders and Rhodes edged ahead on the outside. Jordan Anderson ducked low around Rhodes and fell 0.036 behind catching Rhodes.
“As a driver you are always asked about what your biggest accomplishment is. This is it. This is hands down it,” Rhodes said. “This is the place to be.”

Anderson was second at Daytona for the second consecutive year. He drove through the field from 12th to nearly winning the race on the final lap.

Anderson’s first trip to Daytona was as an 8-year-old when he and his father camped in the family truck and caught the races.

“Just being here is exciting for me,” Anderson said. “So much energy, so much emotion. I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be here in a national series coming from Columbia, South Carolina.”

Anderson said he’s considering shutting down his truck team as Jordan Anderson Racing transitions into an Xfinity Series team. But he’s determined to keep the truck running as an opportunity for young drivers and nearly pulled off the win.

Anderson will attempt to qualify today for the Xfinity Series opener.

Rhodes and his ThorSport Racing crew each earned $25,000 bonuses from Camping World CEO Marcus Lemonis. The title sponsor of the Truck Series posted $300,000 in season-long bonuses before the race.

It was a statement win for Thorsport, which earlier this month announced its return to Toyota after three years with Ford. Thorsport was a Toyota partner from 2012 until 2017.

“We came back to Toyota and we won in our first race with them,” Rhodes said. “You can dream about this — I’ve dreamed about this I can’t tell you how long… since I was seven years old. Nothing describes the feeling. I’ve had very few days like this in my life to have this much elation.”

The race was sent to overtime when Timothy Peters triggered a multi-truck crash with six to go. Rhodes led David Gilliland at the start of the two-lap sprint to the finish, but the running order shuffled before Rhodes finally took the checkered flag.

Hailie Deegan, promoted to her first full season in a national season, spun in her debut for David Gilliland Racing. She took a long slide down the apron until she finally smacked into the wall. The hood of her Ford scrunched as the force into the energy-absorbing barrier caused the wall to swell.

Deegan finished 24th out of 36 trucks.

Meanwhile, the third-tier Truck Series got a financial boost when Lemonis announced his bonus system before the race. Camping World earmarked some of the bonuses for the road crews on the race teams — a rare acknowledgement for the team members who make the car run.

Lemonis also pledged to the Truck Series champion both an electric pickup truck and an electric recreational vehicle. Camping World also set aside $100,000 for incremental bonuses or, NASCAR said in a release, “team needs throughout the season.”

It wasn’t clear if the money could be an emergency slush fund to struggling teams. But notably, Camping World invited inquiries if “a Truck Series team or driver needs help securing sponsorships or has interest in in exploring B2B opportunities.”

Inquiries were directed to NASCAR at a nascar.com email address.

Comments

Nation/World

Senate Democrats strike deal on jobless aid, move relief bill closer to approval

News

Duke Life Flight pilot may have shut down wrong engine in fatal crash

News

Two NC counties get to participate in satellite internet pilot for students

Local

PETA protesters gather in front of police department

Coronavirus

Seven new COVID-19 deaths, 166 positives reported in county this week

Crime

Sheriff’s office: Two charged after suitcase of marijuana found in Jeep

Crime

Thomasville officer hospitalized after chase that started in Rowan County

Local

Board of elections discusses upgrading voting machines, making precinct changes

News

Lawmakers finalize how state will spend COVID-19 funds

Local

Salisbury Station one of several ‘hot spots’ included in NCDOT rail safety study

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, school considering options

News

Iredell County votes to move Confederate memorial to cemetery

Nation/World

Lara Trump may have eyes on running for a Senate seat

Local

Rowan among counties in Biden’s disaster declaration from November floods

Local

PETA plans protest at Salisbury Police Department on Friday

Education

Essie Mae Kiser Foxx appeal denied, charter revoked

Coronavirus

29 new positives, no new COVID-19 deaths reported

Crime

Blotter: Woman charged with drug crimes

News

Nesting no more: Eagles appear to have moved on from Duke’s Buck Station

Business

The Smoke Pit leaving downtown Salisbury for standalone building on Faith Road

Education

Shoutouts

High School

High school football: Hornets’ Gaither set the tone against West

Local

Salisbury to show off new fire station

Education

Livingstone College to host virtual Big Read events this month