Ben Rhodes wins Truck Series championship at Phoenix


As the final stage of Friday’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship race at Phoenix Raceway played out, Zane Smith seemed poised to claim the title as best finisher among the Championship 4.

But Ben Rhodes was not to be denied.

After being passed by Zane Smith for third place and the lead among the Championship 4 with 41 laps to go, Rhodes reeled him back in.

Then, with nine laps to go, Rhodes nudged Zane Smith up the track entering Turn 2 to reclaim the spot he needed to win the title.

Rhodes finished third behind race winner Chandler Smith and runner-up Stewart Friesen. But it was enough to give him his first Truck Series title over Zane Smith (finished fifth), John Hunter Nemechek (finished seventh) and Matt Crafton (finished 12th).

“I can’t even breathe – that was the hardest last 40 laps I think I’ve ever driven in my life,” Rhodes told Fox Sports after the race. “I was doing things with the race car I probably shouldn’t have been doing. It was dumb. But I had everything to lose.

“We brought it home and we won it. I don’t even know what to say. This is crazy. … I’m so proud, so proud of my ThorSport Racing group. We went to Daytona (at the start of the season) – this wasn’t like a vision that we had. Everybody wants to win (a championship), but you just don’t know. It’s so hard.”

Rhodes gave ThorSport its fourth Truck title after Crafton’s three in 2013, 2014 and 2019. He earned two wins, eight top-five finishes and 16 top-10 finishes this season.

When asked what he needed to come home with the title, Zane Smith simply replied “just for my truck to return, man.”

“We struggled with that since we unloaded,” he told Fox Sports. “Still, an insane year, really. We were, I don’t know, eight laps away from winning the championship. … I tried using all my tools from my side of things, but could not get the (truck) to turn. We just fought that all night.”

Zane Smith reached Phoenix with a shot at the title after winning last week’s elimination race at Martinsville Speedway. The last two races saw him earn two of his three top five finishes in 2021.

As for the “other” Smith, Chandler Smith notched his second win of the season. He earned his first career Truck victory earlier in the playoffs at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“First and foremost, all glory to the man upstairs,” he said in Victory Lane. “Without Him, none of this would be possible. I wouldn’t have all these awesome relationships with all these guys, my racing family. This is my family.

“Also, He’s blessed me with a great family and being around great people and being able to come out to Phoenix Raceway in front of these fans tonight and be able to compete in high-tier equipment. I’m just really blessed right now.”

STAGE 1 WINNER: Chandler Smith

STAGE 2 WINNER: Chandler Smith

WHO HAD A GOOD RACE: Chandler Smith and Stewart Friesen finished 1-2 after being eliminated from the playoffs last week at Martinsville Speedway. … Sheldon Creed, who was also eliminated last week, led a race-high 106 laps before finishing fourth in his final full-time start for GMS Racing. He now heads to the Xfinity Series with Richard Childress Racing in 2022.

WHO HAD A BAD RACE: Nemechek couldn’t fully recover from falling two laps down due to a flat tire at Lap 7 following contact with another competitor. He spent 89 laps off the lead lap until returning to the lead lap via free pass due to a caution with 50 laps to go. Nemechek ran well in the final run to the finish, but it wasn’t enough.

NOTABLE: The 2022 Truck Series season begins Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

NASCAR Power Rankings: William Byron, Kyle Busch rank 1-2


Kyle Busch moved closer to the top spot after his win Sunday at WWT Raceway, but William Byron keeps hold of No. 1 after another top-10 run.

The series heads to Sonoma Raceway this weekend, the second race of the season on a road course.


(Previous ranking in parenthesis)

1. William Byron (1) — He goes into Sonoma with six consecutive top-10 finishes after his eighth-place result at WWT Raceway. Byron has led a series-high 717 laps this season.

2. Kyle Busch (4) — Recorded his third win of the season Sunday. He is tied with Byron for most wins this year. Busch scored 59 of a maximum 60 points and won his first stage of the year Sunday. He has 16 playoff points. Only Byron has more with 17 this season.

3. Kyle Larson (3) — His fourth-place finish continued his up-and-down season. In the last nine races, Larson has two wins, four top fives, a 20th-place result and four finishes of 30th or worse. He has led 588 laps this season, which ranks second this year to Byron.

4. Martin Truex Jr. (2) — His fifth-place finish is his sixth top 10 in the last eight races. He ranks third in laps led this year with 383.

5. Denny Hamlin (7) — Runner-up result at WWT Raceway is his fourth top 10 in the last seven races.

6. Ryan Blaney (10) — Followed Coca-Cola 600 win with a sixth-place run at WWT Raceway. He had an average running position of 2.6 on Sunday, second only to winner Kyle Busch’s average running position of 1.9.

7. Joey Logano (9) — Third-place finish is his second top 10 in the last four races.

8. Kevin Harvick (NR) — His 10th-place finish is his fourth consecutive finish of 11th or better.

9. Ross Chastain (6) — Lost the points lead after placing 22nd, his third consecutive finish outside the top 20.

10. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NR) — Headed for his eighth top 15 in a row until he was collected in a crash after the contact between Austin Cindric and Austin Dillon late in Sunday’s race.

Dropped out: Chase Elliott (5th), Tyler Reddick (8th)

NASCAR will not penalize Austin Cindric for incident with Austin Dillon


Despite Richard Childress and Austin Dillon saying that Austin Cindric intentionally wrecked Dillon late in Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway, NASCAR will not penalize Cindric.

Elton Sawyer, NASCAR senior vice president of competition, said Tuesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that there would be no penalty to Cindric after reviewing the contact.

Dillon and Childress were upset about the incident, which brought out the caution on Lap 220 of the 243-lap race. Dillon said NASCAR should suspend Cindric for the contact, just as NASCAR suspended Chase Elliott one race for hooking Denny Hamlin in the Coca-Cola 600.

Contact between the left front of Cindric’s car and the right rear of Dillon’s car sent Dillon up the track into Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Dillon finished 31st. Cindric continued and placed 13th.

Dillon told “I was wrecked intentionally by (Cindric), hooked right just like Chase and Denny and Bubba’s deal (in wrecking Kyle Larson at Las Vegas in 2022). He better be suspended next week.”

Childress said: “(Dillon) had drove up to about 10th until (Cindric) wrecked him in there on purpose, sort of a payback.”

Sawyer said a review of the incident included viewing video and data.

“We didn’t see anything — and haven’t seen anything — that really would rise to a level that would be a suspension or a penalty,” Sawyer said. “It looked like hard racing. One car coming up a little bit and another car going down.

“As we said last week, we take these incidents very serious when we see cars that are turned head-on into another car or head-on into the wall. I spent a lot of time (Monday) looking at that, looking at all the data, looking at TV footage and just deemed this one really hard racing.”

Sawyer said NASCAR plans to talk to both Cindric and Dillon “to make sure we’re all in a good place as we move forward to Sonoma.”



Seven Cup drivers entered in Xfinity race at Sonoma


Kyle Larson is among seven Cup drivers entered in Saturday’s Xfinity Series race at Sonoma Raceway.

The race marks the first time the Xfinity Series has competed at the California road course. Teams will get 50 minutes of practice Friday because this is a new event on the schedule. That additional time will give those Cup drivers more laps on the 1.99-mile road course.

MORE: Sonoma Xfinity entry list

Here is a look at what Xfinity rides the Cup drivers will pilot this weekend:

The race is scheduled to start at 8 p.m. ET Saturday.

The ARCA Menards Series West also is competing this weekend at Sonoma Raceway. Cup driver Ryan Preece is entered in that event. Xfinity drivers Cole Custer, Riley Herbst, Sammy Smith and Parker Retzlaff also are entered in that race, which will be held at 6:30 p.m. ET Friday.


Winners and losers at WWT Raceway


Winners and losers from Sunday’s Cup race at WWT Raceway:


Kyle BuschWins the pole, leads the most laps and holds the field off over the last five restarts to win the race. He scored six playoff points, giving him 16 on the season, second only to William Byron’s 17. Busch left Joe Gibbs Racing after last season for Richard Childress Racing. Busch’s three wins this year equals what JGR has done so far.

Ryan BlaneyHis sixth-place finish moved him into the points lead. He last led the points after the spring 2022 Richmond race. Blaney also won a stage Sunday to collect another playoff point. He has seven this season.

Kyle LarsonFourth-place finish was a big turnaround after struggles earlier in the race. It has not been easy for this team the last few weeks. He has three top-five finishes and four finishes of 20th or worse in the last seven races.

Daniel SuarezHis seventh-place finish moved him up two spots to 16th in the standings, the final playoff transfer spot at this time.


Ross ChastainHe finished 22nd for his third consecutive result outside the top 20. He entered the weekend leading the points and fell to fifth afterward. He is 29 points behind new series leader Ryan Blaney with 11 races left in the regular season.

Tyler ReddickRebounded from an early spin to lead but had his race end after a brake rotor failed. He was one of four drivers eliminated by brake rotor failures. The others were Carson Hocevar, Bubba Wallace and Noah Gragson.