Pit Strategy Propels Ben Rhodes To Victory In NASCAR Overtime At Darlingtonby Hunter Thomas September 6, 2020 0 comments
DARLINGTON, S.C. – Pit strategy and a NASCAR Overtime restart propelled Ben Rhodes to the front of the field and to victory on Sunday in the South Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Darlington Raceway.
Rhodes, who hadn’t won a race since July 2018 caught a huge break on Sunday, when the leaders in front of him decided to pit under caution just prior to the NASCAR Overtime restart. Once back to green, the driver of the ThorSport Racing No. 99 Tenda Heal Ford held off a hard charging Derek Kraus to win his first race of the 2020 season.
“Gosh, that was such a tough win,” Rhodes said. “We weren’t the best truck all day. I was actually really disappointed when the caution came out, because I thought, fourth place, that’s a good finish for us and we’re going to get into the Playoffs. I’m not letting this checkered flag go. It has been a long coming and so proud of my 99 Tenda team. They’ve done an amazing job all year staying consistent, and we come here with no practice never being here, and we’re able to get the win.”
Kraus started the race in the 13th position, and he was also a driver who benefitted from the leaders pitting in the final laps. The runner-up finish marks only Kraus’ third top-five of his career and his first since Kansas in July.
“Kevin (Bellicourt, crew chief) up on top of the box made a really good call there at the end,” Kraus said. “Got a good restart and did everything I needed to, but there off of two – I got really loose off of two. It was my mistake, but overall I felt like it was a great day. We struggled some in the beginning, but Kevin got this NAPA Filters Toyota Tundra tuned up for the end of the race.”
Austin Hill was one of the drivers who pitted, but he was able to rally back to a third-place finish. Hill didn’t lead any laps, but he competed for stage wins and ran well within the top-three for most of the afternoon.
Completing the top-five was Grant Enfinger and Christian Eckes. Rounding out the top-10 was Raphael Lessard, Todd Gilliland, Stewart Friesen, Timmy Hill and Brett Moffitt.
Moffitt won Stage 1, led 63 laps and was in position to finish third prior to the NASCAR Overtime finish. Moffitt and his team decided to pit in the closing laps and were unable to make up the positions.
The same scenario happened to Sheldon Creed too. Creed was leading the race when the final caution of the afternoon came out, and choosing tires over track position, the team pitted and finished a very disappointing 18th after winning Stage 2 and leading a race high of 82 laps.
There were seven cautions for 35 laps throughout the afternoon, but only two were for multitruck accidents.
Hill leads Moffitt in the standings by 38 points. The final race before the NASCAR Playoffs for the NASCAR Gander RV & Outdoors Truck Series will be held at Richmond Raceway on Thursday, September 10 at Richmond Raceway. Live coverage of the ToyotaCare 250 will broadcast on FS1 and MRN at 8 p.m. ET.
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