BEN RHODES, No. 99 Tenda Toyota Tundra TRD Pro, ThorSport Racing
How was your practice today?
“I really enjoyed it. I might be the only one that thinks this, but I enjoy the dirt in Bristol more than the concrete actually. I had a really, really fun practice session today. We ran a few laps off of the bat and the crew chief (Rich Lushes) said ‘Alright, that’s enough. Let’s be done for this round.’ After about 30 minutes of watching other people, I got really bummed out that they were having fun and I wasn’t. I begged him to let me go out and he got the truck back on the ground and we put some tires back on it and we went out and ran some laps. Which, I’m glad, because that is the happiest I’ve been in a truck at a dirt track ever. This next session we were running through changes and tried to get some sensitivities on what some of the changes are like here, so that way at the end of the stage breaks we know how to adjust the truck. Pretty calm, cool and collected practice for us, but the track is changing a lot to say the least.”
Why do you like it more here on dirt versus the concrete?
“Well, I wasn’t very good on the concrete. My record wasn’t the best here on the concrete. I ran here a lot, and so far, we finished second here last year in this race. We were pretty quick in practice both times today, and I think it is a whole lot of fun. I love that you can throw the truck into the corners, and you will have the banking to catch you. When you just start sliding and sliding and sliding, I mean, some people like that, but I don’t. My feel is when I throw it in there, I want to know I’ve got something to lean on and the banking provides that. I’ve never experienced that before. Eldora – it had banking, but not like this. Knoxville, it would take rubber, but it doesn’t just grab the truck and help you through the corner.”
What are you working on practice that can correlate to the race tomorrow?
“There is some. We actually spent most of the practice sessions trying to correlate the best we could. Nobody knows exactly what the track is going to do, but you try to take from your experience and correlate it the best you can, so right now – the track you can see is a dark, slicked off surface. Not a lot of grip out there, you really have to hunt for the moisture and it’s going to be similar to that at the end of the race. Now the cushion, the fluff, whatever you want to call it – it will be moved around. It will be different, but I have a feeling with 36 of us out there, it’s going to be up against the wall like that. It will take to the end of the race to get to that point, especially at nighttime, but we do the best we can to correlate that. The adjustments we are making right now – this is where they will help us at this stage versus this stage.”