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Exclusive: 2023 Truck Champ Ben Rhodes Confesses Only Regret During His Xfinity Partnership With Dale Jr & Kevin Harvick

Published 11/08/2023, 11:02 PM EST

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Dale Earnhardt Jr has been one of NASCAR’s most consistent benefactors. Having watched the sport evolve since the racing days of his legendary father, Dale Earnhardt, he has taken the approach of an entrepreneur in the recent past. One of his most iconic brainchildren is JR Motorsports. Over the years, the Xfinity Series and iRacing-based team have produced a horde of superstars, from Chase Elliott to William Byron. Another name that joins the list of having the privilege to work with one of NASCAR’s most beloved drivers is 2-time Craftsman Truck Series champion Ben Rhodes.

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Ben Rhodes initiated Ford’s clean sweep across the national championships this year, as Ryan Blaney and Cole Custer did the rest. As much as Rhodes has an affinity for the Truck Series title, he also got the chance to race in Xfinity under the tutelage of Junior in 2015. In an exclusive interview with EssentiallySports, the 26-year-old recollects an unforgettable experience of sharing the stage with one of NASCAR’s Hall of Famers.

Racing for JR Motorsports was a dream opportunity for Ben Rhodes


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Rhodes’ rise to national prominence was in 2013. Following his incredible performances in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East, he was named among some talented drivers on the NASCAR Next roster. Racing for Tuner Scott Motorsports in the K&N East Series, he gifted the team a second-consecutive championship victory in 2014 after five wins, 11 top-5s, and six pole starts to his name.

His consistent performances got his name on the radar of Dale Earnhardt Jr as did his excellent scouting. JR Motorsports announced in December of 2014 that Ben Rhodes would transition to the Xfinity Series and share the #88 Chevrolet Camaro alongside some of the Cup Series superstars, including Junior and even 2014 Cup champion Kevin Harvick. Describing his emotions around such a huge opportunity at a young age in an exclusive conversation with EssentiallySports, Rhodes stated, “Yeah, it was really a dream come true at the time, because I was 18 or 19 years old.”


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“It was really my first big opportunity and one of the national series of NASCAR. And, Dale Junior was my idol growing up. I also was sharing the car with Kevin Harvick and Kasey Kahne, and it’s funny to think that I was able to do that.”

While their time together didn’t last long, it was fruitful for Ben Rhodes. He earned two top-10 finishes in the limited starts at his disposal and finished 7th on his debut at the Iowa Speedway in May. The major takeaway from his tenure at JR Motorsports was the experience on a national stage and invaluable learnings from Dale Jr and Co.

Rhodes feels he had a lot more to give in his time at JRM

In October 2015, Ben Rhodes announced he would move away from racing in the Xfinity Series. Despite his intentions to run a full-time car in the series for the following year, he joined ThorSport Racing as a full-time driver in the Truck Series. The racing style in the tourney fit him like a glove as he adapted seamlessly, and the rest is history.

Adding more about sharing the stage with champions and the expectations he had from himself, he explained, “And now all of those guys are retired, and they were just kind of legends of the sport. So it was so long ago to me. It’s hard to remember exactly, but I did enjoy that time.”


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Expressing his regret at not being able to utilize the enormous opportunity to its fullest, the 2023 Truck Series champion explained, I wish I had more experience at the time to properly go out there and compete for wins because when I was getting in, it was more of a learning opportunity. So I wish I was able to bring them some success.”


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Watch This Story: Dale Earnhardt Jr Speaks Out on Chaotic Trucks Series Race

Despite the unlimited disposal through the opportunity, as he hinted in the exclusive interview with EssentiallySports, it is a big pressure to handle at such a young age. While Ben Rhodes had to choose a different path than Junior’s, the Truck Series experience hasn’t been any less rewarding either. Becoming the only fifth driver to win multiple championships in the Truck Series is a testament to the ability of Ben Rhodes.

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Written by:

Ansuman Abhisek


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Edited by:

Shivali Nathta