CONCORD, NC — Taking the lead from Carson Hocevar after a restart on lap 111 of 134, Ben Rhodes pulled away to win Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Rhodes, the ninth different winner in 11 NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series races this season, also received a $50,000 bonus for winning the first of three Triple Truck Challenge events, a bonus program that could mean $500,000 for a driver who can scan all three.
MORE: Unofficial results | Triple Truck Challenge Details
“I didn’t think we were that good in practice,” said Rhodes, who beat second Corey Heim to the checkered flag by 2.398 seconds as Heim, third-placed Dean Thompson and Carson Hocevar battled for second place over the last 24 laps.
“I didn’t call it the best, and here it came to life at night… Oh man, I had so much fun. It’s too much fun. Charlotte is a track we come to – ThorSport Racing, we’re based in Sandusky, Ohio – we come to the North Carolina guys and we love to win.
The victory was Rhodes’ first of the season, his first in Charlotte and the seventh of his career. In addition to the Triple Truck Challenge bonus, Rhodes is locked in the Craftsman Truck Series playoffs.
“The whole season is so hard to put together,” Rhodes said. “It’s incredibly difficult, and it’s only gotten worse over the years…. A championship being locked, I will take it. The last three races have been incredibly tough for my team. We got destroyed in the last three and didn’t have a great performance because of it.
“So I’ll take the points – thank you.”
Hocevar held the lead for the Lap 111 restart but was trapped in the middle of a three-way situation and dropped to sixth in the running order. Heim took second and Thompson third, while Hocevar rallied and traded third with Thompson before finishing fourth.
“Me and the 42 (Hocevar) and the 5 (Thompson) were probably the best trucks,” said Heim, who led a 49-lap race and held off Hocevar to win the first stage. “But the 99 (Rhodes) came very strong, and once we came second on the restart where the 42 were placed in the middle there, I really thought we had a chance.
“But it just proves that clean air is king here, but I feel like if I had done a better job of getting out of this as soon as possible rather than waiting for a race, we might have -be given a better opportunity.”
Notes: Thompson’s third-place finish was a career best…Hocevar led 43 laps and won stage two by 5.746 seconds over Heim…Rhodes, the 2021 series champion, led 37 laps – 25 in the final moto until to the finish… The final two Triple Truck Challenge races are scheduled for World Wide Technology Raceway on June 3 and Nashville Superspeedway on June 23.