By Adam Carabine
It may have taken four NASCAR Overtime restarts, but finally a champion was crowned. Ben Rhodes was the survivor after many laps of carnage, finishing fifth in the Craftsman Truck Series Championship Race.
The race was marred by a ton of drama. Each of the Championship Four spent time in the front, and each of them were involved in some sort of incident.
Christian Eckes won the race, but was no longer eligible to take home the big prize. While he acknowledged that it was sweet to earn McAnally-Hilgemann Racing a 1-2 finish, he also lamented what could have been.
Eckes was eliminated from the playoffs in the Round of 8. Had he been one of the Championship Four, he could have been celebrating a championship win as well. “It’s kind of hard to be happy right now,” he said after the race win.
First, Carson Hocevar came into turn one too hot and spun Corey Heim. While the damage was minimal, Heim wound up having to pit and restart way in the back.
Fast forward to the scheduled end of the race and Heim seemingly took his revenge on Hocevar. The damage to Hocevar’s truck was worse, and ended his night. Hocevar would finish 29th.
On his radio, Hocevar said “I had it coming,I embarrassed myself. I’m sorry y’all.”
Grant Enfinger also had damage and had to come down pit road alone. With Hocevar out of the race, Heim now a lap down after his role in the wreck, and Enfinger restarting 24th after pitting, it looked like Ben Rhodes had it in the bag.
But all was not as it seemed…
Rhodes restarted behind leader Zane Smith, and when Smith missed a shift, Rhodes had nowhere to go but into the back of the 38, bringing out the caution. With extensive nose damage, another overtime restart coming, and the freshly lucky-dogged Corey Heim back on the lead lap, the road became less clear.
In the end, it took four overtime restarts to end the race. At one point, Grant Enfinger was able to get right up to Rhodes’ tail end, but he kept things clean, ultimately costing him his own championship.
Rhodes’ fifth-placed finish was enough to earn him his second Truck Series Championship, making him just the fifth driver in NASCAR history to win multiple championships in the series.