With a gaggle of trucks wrecking behind him as the field approached the finish line, Ben Rhodes shot past Cory Roper in the tri-oval at Daytona International Speedway to win Friday night’s NextEra Energy , the season opener for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
With a decisive push from ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton on the final lap of an overtime shootout, Rhodes had more than enough momentum to charge past Roper in the final yards. Likewise, Jordan Anderson blew past Roper into second place, seconds behind the winner, as Roper held third for a career-best result.
“This is so special — the biggest win of my career,” Rhodes exulted after climbing from his truck. “I can’t even believe this. As a driver, you’re always asked about what your biggest accomplishment is… This is it. This is hands-down it. This is the place to be. I can’t even believe it.”
RELATED: Official race results | Speedweeks schedule
The win was the first for ThorSport after an offseason switch from Ford to Toyota.
“We came back to Toyota and we won in our first race with them at ThorSport,” Rhodes said. “I can’t thank (owners) Duke and Rhonda Thorson enough for this opportunity. This is special. I’m going to soak it up for as long as I can. I’m going to enjoy this night. Best night of my life right here.”
Without Crafton’s help, Rhodes said, he couldn’t have claimed his first win at Daytona and the fourth of his career.
“Thanks goodness I had my teammate, Matt Crafton, behind me, because he’s a stud,” Rhodes said. “He’s been around a long time, and he knows what he’s doing.”
Anderson was a close runner-up for the second straight year, matching his career-best finish.
“I’m almost speechless,” said an elated Anderson, who was anything but tongue-tied. “So much energy, so much emotion…”
RELATED: Jordan Anderson reacts to runner-up result
A multi-truck wreck on Lap 95 of the scheduled ended the winning chances of a handful of contenders. Chandler Smith spun into the infield, and behind him, a vicious crash ended the race for Tyler Ankrum and heavily damaged the trucks of Timothy Peters, Austin Hill and three-time Daytona winner Johnny Sauter.
The trucks of Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders Carson Hocevar and John Hunter Nemechek also were victims of the crash, but they recovered to finish fifth and seventh, respectively. Ryan Truex ran fourth, followed by Hocevar, defending series champion Sheldon Creed, Nemechek, Codie Rohrbaugh, Smith and Drew Dollar.
Crafton, a three-time series champion, was collected in the overtime wreck and finished 15th. Twenty-eight laps earlier, he was part of a wreck that eliminated a pair of strong entries. With trucks running in a perilous four-wide array on Lap 72, Crafton nosed up the track after a slight tap from Nemechek and bumped the left rear quarter of Todd Gilliland’s Ford. Gilliland spun and collected the trucks of Stewart Friesen and Tate Fogleman behind him, and in the process, Brett Moffitt’s Chevrolet was pinched into the outside wall. The trucks of Gilliland and Friesen were wrecked too severely to continue.
RELATED: Todd Gilliland, Friesen bit by four-wide action
Racing for the second time in six years, series champion James Buescher was out of the event before he reached the start-finish line to begin the race. With his No. 44 Niece Motorsports Chevrolet destroyed in a four-truck wreck right after the initial start, Buescher exited without completing a lap.
Joining him on the sidelines were Tanner Gray, who spun during the early incident, and Gus Dean, whose truck was damaged too badly to continue. Derek Kraus recovered from a spin in that early crash in what was to become an adventuresome night for the driver of the No. 19 Toyota.
Kraus caused two more cautions with spins and collided with the truck of rookie Kris Wright on pit road before taking his truck to the garage in 33rd place.
The Camping World Truck Series next race is scheduled next Friday, Feb. 19 ( p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM) back at Daytona, but on the mile oval and road course layout.
Note: The No. 99 ThorSport Racing Toyota passed post-race technical inspection Friday night after winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series’ NextEra Energy at the Daytona International Speedway. There were no other issues.
Contributing: Staff reports
A chaotic last lap of overtime ended with Ben Rhodes taking the win in Friday nights NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
With six laps to go in the scheduled distance, a big crash broke out on the backstretch that involved 10 trucks and sent the race into overtime.
On the penultimate lap of overtime, Rhodes and ThorSport Racing teammate Matt Crafton got out to the lead. Sheldon Creed and Cory Roper mounted a challenge against the ThorSport duo from the outside lane coming to the white flag.
Truck Series race results
Roper got into the wall coming out of the tri-oval, but was able to go inside of Creed and take the lead into Turn 1. After Austin Wayne Self spun into the backstretch grass, Rhodes set himself up for one last run at Roper through Turns 3 and 4.
Once back in the tri-oval, Roper made his move outside and completed the winning pass on Roper as multiple drivers wrecked behind them.
Rhodes is the early leader in the Truck points standings after a point haul on Friday night 40 points for the win, plus 11 points across Stages 1 and 2.
Truck Series points standings after Daytona
Behind him, Creed and John Hunter Nemechek are tied with 47 points. Creed has second place in the standings after finishing sixth in the race; Nemechek finished seventh.
Chandler Smith (37 points) and part-time driver Grant Enfinger (36 points) sit fourth and fifth in the standings, respectively.
NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Results
Daytona International Speedway
Daytona International Speedway Road Course
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Atlanta Motor Speedway
Bristol Motor Speedway
Circuit Of The Americas
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Texas Motor Speedway
Watkins Glen International
World Wide Technology Raceway At Gateway
Bristol Motor Speedway
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Ben Rhodes endured three overtime attempts to win Friday nights NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on the Daytona International Speedway road course.
Truck Series Daytona road course race results
Rhodes becomes the third driver in Truck Series history to open a season with back-to-back wins, joining his ThorSport Racing teammate Johnny Sauter ( Daytona, Martinsville) and NASCAR Hall of Famer Mark Martin ( Daytona, Fontana).
Sheldon Creed, John Hunter Nemechek, Todd Gilliland and Riley Herbst made up the rest of the top five finishers.
Hailie Deegan was in contention for a top finish entering the third overtime attempt, but spun off-course in the final laps and finished 28th. She later mentioned on social media that she had suffered a flat tire.
Rhodes remains atop the Truck standings, coming out of Friday nights race with a nine-point lead over Nemechek ().
Truck Series points standings after Daytona road course
Creed is now in third place with 87 points. Chandler Smith is fourth with 70 points; Matt Crafton is fifth with 63 points.
Truck daytona results nascar
NASCAR Truck Daytona
DaytonaFeb 11, to Feb 12,
Daytona IIFeb 19, to Feb 19,
Las VegasMar 5, to Mar 5,
AtlantaMar 20, to Mar 20,
BristolMar 27, to Mar 27,
RichmondApr 17, to Apr 17,
KansasMay 1, to May 1,
DarlingtonMay 7, to May 7,
COTAMay 22, to May 22,
CharlotteMay 28, to May 28,
TexasJun 12, to Jun 12,
NashvilleJun 18, to Jun 18,
PoconoJun 26, to Jun 26,
KnoxvilleJul 9, to Jul 9,
Watkins GlenAug 7, to Aug 7,
GatewayAug 20, to Aug 20,
Darlington IISep 5, to Sep 5,
Bristol IISep 16, to Sep 16,
Las Vegas IISep 24, to Sep 24,
TalladegaOct 2, to Oct 2,
MartinsvilleOct 30, to Oct 30,
PhoenixNov 5, to Nov 5,
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