ThorSport still playing catch-up after switch to Ford

MARTINSVILLE, VA - MARCH 23: Ben Rhodes, driver of the #41 Alpha Energy Solutions Ford, practices for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Alpha Energy Solutions 250 at Martinsville Speedway on March 23, 2018 in Martinsville, Virginia. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)


MARTINSVILLE, Va. –The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series hasn’t raced since March 2 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, but for ThorSport Racing driver Ben Rhodes, the break was welcome – and necessary.

ThorSport made an offseason manufacturer change from Toyota to Ford, with a small window of time to accomplish the changeover. That’s why Rhodes was fine with the pause in the schedule after Las Vegas.

“With our switch to Ford this year, we need all the time we can get,” said Rhodes, who finished fourth, fourth and seventh in the first three races. “We haven’t been to the wind tunnel yet. We haven’t done any of the other things that teams like Kyle Busch Motorsports and GMS Racing are doing.

“This time allows us to do some R&D on our side and really work off the track to get at speed. A lot of the speed you see these days is made at the shop, from the wind tunnel, the seven-post machine, stuff like that. It’s kind of a blessing, but the racer in me wants me to race every single day.”

Incidentally, Rhodes is also the poster child for the value of stage points in NASCAR racing. He finished fourth in the season opener at Daytona but failed to finish in the top 10 in either of the first two stages of the race and left the track 16th in the series standings, tied for the position with journeyman Norm Benning.

SHORT STROKES

Three NASCAR Camping World Truck Series practices produced three different leaders on Saturday at Martinsville Speedway. Justin Haley topped the speed chart at 94.125 mph in opening practice, with Matt Crafton fastest in second practice at 94.571 mph and Crafton’s ThorSport Racing teammate, Grant Enfinger, quickest in final practice at 95.055 mph…

The engine in Todd Gilliland’s No. 4 Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota blew after running six laps in second practice. Gilliland will make his first start of the season at Martinsville on Saturday, but he’ll do so from the rear of the field because of the engine change. With the new power plant in his truck, Gilliland was 12th fastest in final practice.

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