From his perspective it was a week late, but Ben Rhodes got his first career NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win.
After leading all but the final two laps in his last start on March 15 at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, the 17-year-old Louisville, Ky., native took no chances on Saturday night by leading the final 26 laps en route to a victory in the Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 on Saturday night at Greenville Pickens Speedway.
It was just the 11th start for the NASCAR Next driver. His previous best finish at the track was sixth, earned in September of last year. Rhodes’ best series career finish coming into the night was a pair of third-place efforts.
Ronnie Bassett Jr. crossed the line behind Rhodes for his first top-five-finish in six series outings. The 18-year-old rookie from Winston-Salem, N.C., withstood a late charge from Drive for Diversity driver Daniel Suarez to hold on to second place. He was followed by Cameron Hayley and Jesse Little in third and fourth respectively. Suarez fell back to fifth place, his third top-five finish of the season.
Fellow Drive for Diversity pilot Ryan Gifford finished sixth, followed by rookies Kaz Grala and Brodie Kostecki. Sergio Pena and Eddie MacDonald rounded out the top 10.
With the victory, Rhodes took over the lead in the championship standings by seven points over Suarez and nine better than Gray Gaulding, also a NASCAR Next driver.
NASCAR Next is an industry initiative that spotlights young, talented drivers, who could shape the future of the sport.
The Kevin Whitaker Chevrolet 150 will be telecast by FOX Sports 1 on Friday, March 28 at 11 a.m. ET.
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East is back on the track on April 25 for Blue Ox 100 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.