Ben Rhodes is Making the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Championship a Race for Second Place

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Ben Rhodes had the fastest qualifying time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina

Ben Rhodes had the fastest qualifying time in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina

Rhodes ran a nearly flawless race at Bowman Gray. He led 151 of 152 laps in the NASCAR Hall of Fame 150. The race ended with a green-white-checkered flag finish. Ben Rhodes increased his lead in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings to 49 points over Gray Gaulding.

Bowman Gray Stadium was packed with NASCAR K&N Pro Series fans who watched Ben Rhodes lead 151 of 152 laps

Bowman Gray Stadium was packed with NASCAR K&N Pro Series fans who watched Ben Rhodes lead 151 of 152 laps

“That was a little tricky there,” Rhodes said. “I was afraid something might happen. I was afraid I might get moved up. If it wasn’t (Gaulding) it was going to be somebody else. That’s what this track creates. Just lucky we got to hold him off there at the end for the win and Daniel Suarez as well.”

The only time Rhodes lost his lead was in the final restart. Daniel Suarez passed him on lap 150, but Rhodes regained the lead for the final two laps of the race.

Rhodes won the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Greenville Pickens Speedway in North Carolina on March 22 and was the overall winner in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series race at Iowa Speedway on May 17.

Teammates shower 17-year old Ben Rhodes as they celebrate his third NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina

Teammates shower 17-year old Ben Rhodes as they celebrate his third NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina

“It hasn’t really sunk in yet,” Rhodes said. “I’m sure once we go back to the shop and talk to these guys and just sit down, it will start sinking in. I’m kind of elated right now. Just really happy about our accomplishment right now.”

Suarez held on for second place. While Rhodes ran up front the entire night, Suarez had to rally through the field. “It was fast and with some luck, we drove all the way back to the front with a happy face and a second-place finish,” Suarez said.

Suarez started in the 20th position in the 20-car field after hitting the wall in qualifying.

Ben Rhodes stands atop the Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet Impala waving the checkered flag after his victory at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina

Ben Rhodes stands atop the Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet Impala waving the checkered flag after his victory at Bowman Gray Stadium in North Carolina

“It was pretty difficult,” Suarez said. “In the beginning, we started in the back. Early in the morning we had one of the best race cars out there. In the qualifying we had some trouble with the rear brakes and we hit the fence. After that we decided to work on the car and start at the back to be more prepared for the race.”

Rhodes and Gaulding battled for the lead early in the race. Rhodes started on the pole. Gaulding started in the inside of Row 2. But Gaulding faded in the closing laps of the race and finished in sixth place. It was Gaulding’s fourth top-10 finish in seven NASCAR K&N Pro Series East races.

Austin Hill finished in third place in his first K&N Pro Series race at Bowman Gray Stadium. It was his fifth top-five finish of the season.

“It was really wild, that’s for sure,” Hill said. “We had a really good car at the very beginning of the race. It was really good. It started falling off, getting a little tight running through the center. Coming home with a third place is definitely exciting. I just want to win.”

Brandon Jones came in fourth place, followed by Ronnie Bassett Jr. in fifth at Bowman Gray.

The next race in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is the Pensacola 150 at Five Flags Speedway in Florida on June 13.


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