Race Weekend Central

Ben Rhodes Sweeps NCWTS Practices, Abreu to Backup at Gateway

Ben Rhodes used a late mock qualifying run to top final practice and sweep the morning sessions at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Rhodes, 19, completed a 33.148-second lap late in Saturday’s final session to lead the way for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.

Johnny Sauter (33.208) ended the round second on the charts, with John Hunter Nemechek (33.320), German Quiroga (33.405) and Ryan Truex (33.424) completing the top five. Tyler Reddick, Christopher Bell, Cole Custer, Cameron Hayley and Spencer Gallagher rounded out the top 10.

Making their final laps before qualifying for the Drivin’ For Linemen 200, 31 of the 32 trucks in the NCWTS paddock made their way onto the racing surface during the practice. 12 of the drivers ran a least 10 consecutive laps, with Daniel Hemric serving as the fastest of them with a 132.758 mph. average.

The field will return at 5:45 p.m. ET for Keystone Light Pole Qualifying.

First Practice: Ben Rhodes led the way early, briefly lost the top spot, then regained it in the final moments to lead opening practice at Gateway Motorsports Park.

Rhodes’ 33.152-second lap served as the fastest lap in opening NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practice for Saturday’s Drivin’ for Linemen 200.

William Byron followed in second, posting a time of 33.350 seconds. Defending race winner Cole Custer (33.537) followed in third, with Ryan Truex (33.640) and Johnny Sauter (33.857) completing the top 5.

Erik Jones, Daniel Hemric, Spencer Gallagher, Justin Haley and John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the top 10.

The caution flag fell twice on the 45-minute session, both for spins in turn two. The first — for Tyler Reddick — found the No. 29 truck emerging without damage.

However, Rico Abreu wasn’t as lucky.  The rookie spun his No. 98 Toyota into the outside wall, sustaining enough damage to force his ThorSport Racing team to revert to a backup truck.

“I didn’t even have time to hit the brakes,” Abreu said. “Everyone here at ThorSport – they’re working hard to get this spare truck ready (and) hopefully get some laps at the end of practice here so we have something for qualifying, but we’ll see. I ran this truck (backup) last week, so it’s in just as good of shape as the one we just had.”

The series will return for a second practice session at 11:30 a.m. ET.

Results, via NASCAR

About the author

A graduate of Ball State, Aaron rejoins Frontstretch for his second season in 2016 following a successful year that included covering seven races and starting the popular "Two-Headed Monster" column in 2015. Now in his third year of covering motorsports, Aaron serves as an Assistant Editor for Frontstretch while also contributing to other popular sites including Speed51 and The Apex. He encourages you to come say hi when you see him at the track.

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