ThorSport Racing Follows Up Charlotte Win With Crew Chief Changes

Getty Ben Rhodes prepares for qualifying at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

ThorSport Racing’s Ben Rhodes celebrated a Truck Series win at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 26. One week later, he is adjusting to a new crew chief due to a lineup change inside the organization.

ThorSport Racing confirmed prior to the World Wide Technology Raceway trip that Jeriod Prince will no longer be in charge of the No. 99 team. He will move over to the No. 88 team and Matt Crafton while replacing the departing Shane Wilson.

With Prince moving over the Crafton’s team, Brian Ross will take over the No. 99 team. He will attempt to keep the momentum as Rhodes moves toward World Wide Technology Raceway, as well as the playoffs that begin at Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park on August 11.

Ross Previously Served Another Role at ThorSport Racing

GettyBen Rhodes practices at North Wilkesboro Speedway.

While Ross is a new addition to the crew chief lineup, he is a familiar face inside the building. He has been the lead engineer at ThorSport Racing, and he has worked with Rhodes and the other drivers while helping them contend for wins.

Rhodes specifically mentioned Ross during his post-win press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He talked about how the No. 99 team was the same group that worked with Christian Eckes in 2022 while helping him contend for a playoff spot.

“In 2017, we were wicked fast in practice, popped a tire, and hit the wall,” Rhodes said about WWT Raceway. “In ‘18 we were OK, in ‘19 OK, 2020 fast. Last year, we were leading with like 15 to go and the alternator goes out and we’re starting to lose horsepower and losing voltage.

“And Eckes — which is the truck that we’re taking. This was his team with Jeriod Prince and Brian Ross, all those guys — he actually passed me for the lead and then ended up losing it on the last restart, I think. So, they’ve got speed. It gives me a lot of confidence for that reason.”

Crafton Has Gone Through Multiple Crew Chiefs Since 2021

The departure of Wilson is only the latest crew chief change for the No. 88 team. The group has been looking for the best option since a surprising change at the end of the 2021 season.

Following the end of the 2021 Truck Series championship race, Junior Joiner confirmed that he would step away from working as a crew chief. He said that he would shift his focus to being a dad and that he would only occasionally pop up at the track.

Joiner first joined forces with Crafton in the 2012 season, which kicked off a 10-year partnership. This duo combined to win 13 races and three Craftsman Truck Series championships. They nearly won a fourth in 2021, but handling issues led to Crafton finishing 12th while teammate Ben Rhodes won the first championship of his career.

Crafton worked with three different crew chiefs during the 2022 season. He started the year with Jeff Hensley atop the pit box, but the veteran crew chief moved over to GMS Racing after the trip to Nashville Superspeedway.

Crafton spent three races with Bud Haefele as his crew chief before Wilson took over for the rest of the 2022 season. Crafton ultimately ended the year 10th in the championship standings after posting his worst average finish (13.2) since the 2006 season (13.8).

Wilson began the 2023 season with Crafton and the No. 88 team, but he departed after early struggles. The three-time champion only has four top-10 finishes and one top-five in the first 11 races of the season, which puts his average finish at 13.4.

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