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Ben Rhodes sweeps Daytona with two Truck Series victories

By JENNA FRYER

AP Auto Racing Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Ben Rhodes swept a two-race stop at Daytona International Speedway, winning his second NASCAR Truck Series race in one week Friday night.

Win No. 2 came under caution in triple overtime on Daytona’s road course. It was exactly one week after Rhodes won on the Daytona’s oval in the season-opening race.

“I’ve been on cloud nine all week,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes earned his fifth career victory, all with Thorsport Racing. The team last month returned to a partnership with Toyota and Rhodes’ win was the 200th for the manufacturer in the Truck Series.

Rhodes passed Sheldon Creed after a caution in regulation and it ultimately gave him control of the race despite the three overtime challenges. Rhodes held position over Creed on two overtime restarts, and John Hunter Nemechek on the third attempt to finish the race.

Rhodes all three times executed solid restarts and put distance on the field. He was never really challenged as Rhodes led 14 total laps — including all six in overtime.

Creed pass Nemechek on the third overtime restart but never got close enough to Rhodes before the 10th caution ended the race. Creed, the reigning series champion and last year’s winner on the Daytona road course, finished second.

Creed had no sponsorship for the race, which was noticed by Marcus Lemonis, CEO of series sponsor Camping World. Lemonis last week established both an emergency fund for truck teams but also a bonus program, and he tweeted during the race that Creed should call him.

Lemonis has also spent the first two races of the season conducting fan contests on Twitter. His engagement and involvement has boosted the profile of both Camping World and NASCAR’s third-tier series.

Nemechek rallied to finish third after losing power in his Toyota Tundra to fall a lap off the pace at the start of the second stage. He also ran out of fuel early in the third stage.

The race was moved to Daytona’s road course because of COVID-19 related rescheduling. NASCAR was supposed to race this weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but shuffled dates and venues because racing next week in California is prohibited.

All three national series race instead this week on Daytona’s road course, then Xfinity and Cup moves to Homestead next week as it fills California’s void.

The race was the 25th on a road course in Truck Series history and second at Daytona. There are a series-high four road courses on this year’s schedule, and the Trucks Series was the first of NASCAR’s national divisions to venture onto the twisting circuits when a stop at Heartland Park Topeka was part of the inaugural 1995 season.

Rain earlier Friday created puddles around the track and NASCAR called for a “wet start” that mandated the use of rain tires.

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More AP auto racing: https://apnews.com/hub/auto-racing and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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