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Ben Rhodes Ready for ARCA Racing Series Debut

Ben Rhodes Ready for ARCA Racing Series Debut

by August 24, 2014 0 comments

Photo credit: NASCAR

MADISON, Wisc. — Prior to the Herr’s Live Life with Flavor 200’s start today at the Madison International Speedway, The Fourth Turn was able to catch up with NASCAR K&N Pro Series East points leader Ben Rhodes prior to making his debut in the ARCA Racing Series.

Two days after racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol, Rhodes has made the journey up to the Madison International Speedway for today’s 200-lap race to make what will be his first-ever ARCA start.

Rhodes has been entered in the No. 55 Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota for Venturini Motorsports this weekend for what will be the 16th race of the ARCA Racing Series season.

The 17-year-old native of Louisville, Kentucky states that part of the allure that drew him to the series was the valuable experience he would gain from racing in these cars.

“The ARCA series has a great format and structure – especially with the power these cars have,” Rhodes said. “It’s a great stepping stone to go to the higher series. We’re looking at doing some of the bigger tracks later this year – going through the approval process for that right now. Venturini were nice enough to allow us to come up here and run with them here at Madison, they have a great setup so far. I’ve only had a few laps on the track but the cars are pretty awesome. I definitely am in love with them.”

“The competition is very tough in both series,” he continued. “We timed in sixth-fastest yesterday. We’re still learning a lot though, I feel like today’s going to be a great race for us. They have the setup, they definitely have the setup. The car unloaded fast and we’re tweaking it a little bit for driver preference, but other than that I think we’re going to have a great race.”

With Rhodes making the trip to Madison from Bristol just days after driving the No. 32 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet in the UNOH 200, he compared and contrasted the two half-mile ovals.

“They’re a lot of fun.” he said. “Looking back, they’re both 200 laps. That’s going to be pretty cool to see the same distance. Bristol was obviously going to be a lot faster race with a lot faster pace. This place I think you’re going to have to save some tire too and save some brakes – it’s pretty hard on the brakes.”

“Bristol is more about momentum. Here you have so much power, more power than you need. You’ve just got to keep the tires underneath you and make sure you can hook them up on the long run and not burn them off. That’s going to be the biggest difference I believe from the Trucks to the ARCA cars here at Madison.”

In the Camping World Truck Series, Rhodes has earned two top-10 finishes in three career starts – all on short tracks. In 21 career starts in the K&N Pro Series East, Rhodes has five wins, 12 top-fives, and 17 top-10 finishes along with five pole positions. As for what makes the ARCA debutant so great on short tracks, the current K&N East points leader points to his racing upbringing as

“The short tracks are just what I’ve grown up on,” he explained. “I come from a short track background in late model stocks. Saving the tires is part of my background on late models, we didn’t have pit stops or anything. It’ll be different for me because of pit stops today and different pit strategies.”

“Hopefully we’ll have some yellows. I watched the race from last year, it had a long green flag run and I don’t think they even got to their full set of tires that they still had left in the pits. Either way, I think there’s going to be some tire saving and if we get some tires, that’ll be great too. But tires are always good, they make me feel like Superman.”

With Rhodes planning on making more starts in the ARCA Racing Series this year on the larger tracks such as Kansas or Kentucky. His plans for next year, however, are not exactly set in stone yet although he would like to continue to run in the Camping World Truck Series and hopefully the Nationwide Series. Although he has eyes set on NASCAR’s national series, Rhodes is not ruling out running more ARCA races.

“I don’t know about next year right now,” he said. “We’re still working on our plans, we don’t have any plans just yet finalized. We’re trying to get some stuff together for maybe Trucks or Nationwide next year. ARCA might be in the future, get some experience on these big tracks right before we go run in the Nationwide or Truck Series. They run a lot of companion events and I think it’d be a wonderful opportunity to get the experience.”

AUTHOR’S NOTE: Rhodes rolled off the grid in the ninth position and would work his way into the top-six but would fall back late to an 11th-place finishing position – two laps off of the lead.

 

 

 

Kyle Pokrefky
Follow Kyle Pokrefky on Twitter at @KPokrefky

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