The Camping World Truck Series drivers faced off at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Friday, Sept. 24, kicking off the Round of Eight. None of the playoff drivers won and secured their spot in the championship race, but a new person took the top spot in the points standings.
Ben Rhodes, the driver of the No. 99 ThorSport Toyota Tundra, turned in his best performance of the playoffs at Las Vegas. He chased down part-time teammate Christian Eckes and came within reach of taking the lead on the final lap, but a late caution brought the race to an end and ensured that he would finish second overall. Meanwhile, championship favorites Sheldon Creed and John Hunter Nemechek finished 36th and 33rd, respectively, giving Rhodes the top spot.
The driver of the No. 99 now sits at the top of the leaderboard with 3,070 points. Nemechek is six points behind him while Stewart Friesen (3,045) and teammate Matt Crafton (3,041) round out the four spots above the cutline. Creed sits in fifth with 3,036 points. Carson Hocevar (3,025), Zane Smith (3,022), and Chandler Smith (3,017) all join him below the cutline.
Rhodes Started the Season Atop the Points Standings
The driver of the No. 99 Toyota Tundra is no stranger to the points lead. He actually spent the first few weeks of the 2021 season in this position. Rhodes won the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway on Feb. 12 and then added another win the following week at the Daytona Road Course.
While Rhodes had the early advantage, he did not maintain this lead. John Hunter Nemechek began rattling off wins before taking the top spot on the leaderboard. The driver of the No. 4 locked up trips to Victory Lane at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, Richmond, Charlotte Motor Speedway, Texas Motor Speedway, and Pocono Raceway before winning the regular-season championship.
Nemechek added multiple bonus points to his playoff total before the Round of 10 began, but he has not been able to take advantage. He has dealt with mechanical issues in two of the first four playoff races, resulting in 22nd at World Wide Technology Raceway and 33rd at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Now his advantage is gone while Rhodes holds the top spot on the leaderboard.
The Battle for the Lead Continues With 2 More Races
With the trip to Las Vegas Motor Speedway complete, Rhodes and Nemechek have two more opportunities to battle for the points lead before the championship race at Phoenix. They will first head to Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 2 before taking on Martinsville Speedway on Oct. 30.
The next two tracks are ones where Rhodes has performed well as a Truck Series driver. He has made five starts at Talladega, posting one top-five finish. He finished fourth during the 2020 race, his fifth consecutive year of marked improvement. Nemechek, by comparison, has five starts with a sixth-place run in 2017.
Rhodes and Nemechek are evenly matched heading towards Martinsville. The ThorSport driver has 10 starts to his name with two runner-ups and a fourth-place finish to his name. He also has two other top-10s. Nemechek has 12 starts at the short track with one win, two runner-ups, a third-place, and a seventh-place finish.
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