Race Weekend Central

Ben Rhodes Wins First Truck Series Pole in Martinsville

Ben Rhodes, driving the No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Toyota, will start from the inside of the front row for Saturday’s Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway. Posting a lap of 19.659 seconds [96.322 mph], Rhodes grabbed his first career Camping World Truck Series pole in just his seventh start.

“All of our guys were so close already,” Rhodes said of his No. 41 team, formed in the offseason as part of a Thorsport retooling that also includes fellow rookie Rico Abreu. “It’s like a big family. Just happy to be with them.”

Winning practice No. 2 on Friday, the 19-year-old Rhodes will now attempt to grab the fifth consecutive top-10 finish of his Truck career.

Kyle Busch was a mere 0.071 seconds shy of the pole position, finishing ahead of Johnny SauterCameron Hayley and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-5 spots.

The qualifying session was halted following a crash by Tommy Joe Martins in Round 1. Following the cleanup, the first round ended, sending Austin Wayne Self, Jordan Anderson, Travis Kvapil, Norm Benning, Chris Fontaine and Natalie Decker home as they missed the show.

Point leader Parker Kligerman was disappointed by his qualifying effort, lining up just 25th for the 250-lap race. One spot behind the No. 92 truck was Mike Bliss, a series champion who was on the opposite end of the spectrum – his team was dismal in practice and was in danger of missing the show due to 2015 owner points. Now Bliss, after eking into the field on speed will go ahead and make his first Truck start since 2009.

“These guys are trying,” Bliss said about his Carlos Contreras-owned operation. “The owners are from Mexico and they really want to build a team over here.”

Bliss’ expectations for his No. 71 Chevrolet is to simply “see the checkered.”

“It doesn’t have to have all the fenders,” he continued. “Try to just have the best finish we can. There are a lot of things here that you can be involved in. But you can also take advantage of a lot of yellows.”

Rounding out the top 10 for today’s race are Daniel Suarez, William Byron, John Hunter Nemechek, Tyler Reddick and Matt Crafton.

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