Allen Lessels on Motor Sports: Youngsters eye NHMS
Give yourself 20 bonus points is you came up with the name of Ben Rhodes, a 17-year-old out of Louisville, Ky., who is due to start his senior year of high school in a month.
That honor goes to Ryan Preece, 23, of Berlin, Conn. He’s not only competing in three races at NHMS — the first-ever Whelen Modified Tour All-Star Shootout on Friday and the Whelen Modified Tour Sunoco 100 and NASCAR Nationwide Sta-Green 200 on Saturday — but will zip down to
“School starts Aug. 11 this year,” Rhodes said. “I have to be there for orientation Aug. 8, but I’m going to be in Watkins Glen racing, so I’ll miss that.”
Didn’t know the name Ben Rhodes? Chances are you will before long.
He’s won the last four K&N Pro Series East races and takes aim at a record that’s older than he is by several years — and held by a local favorite — in the Granite State 100 on Friday night.
Craven said he has not seen Rhodes drive, but likes what he has heard and learned about him. He also promised to look him up this weekend and wished him luck in his quest for the record.
The veteran, who was racing out of Concord when NHMS opened and grew up with the track, laughed and said not at all.
He got bumped into the wall early in the race, but recovered and came back to finish fourth.
“With four races, it’s four opportunities to run very well,” he said.
He’s looking for his first Whelen Modified tour victory at the track in the Sunoco 100 on Saturday and to improve on his only other Nationwide appearance in the Sta-Green 200 that follows it.
“To be honest with you, me and Zach and Tommy, we’ve talked about it, and we’re going up there and our goal is to possibly get a top 10,” Preece said. “A lot of people would think that that’s a long shot. But I don’t. I know the amount of work that’s gone into this race car, and Tommy and Zach and all the things we’ve been looking over from last year to this year and what we can improve on and what I can improve on, and I think it’s something realistic.”
Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman, who has become a regular in Modified races at NHMS, will do triple duty during the weekend. He’s racing in the Whelen Modified All-Star shootout on Friday, in the Sunoco 100 on Saturday and then the Cup race on Sunday. Newman is eighth in points in the Cup series, but does not yet have a win. ... Andy Seuss of Hampstead is entered in the Shootout and in Saturday’s Modified race. Seuss has 18 career wins on the Whelen Southern Modified Tour. Three of the wins have come this year and he leads the point standings in the series. ... The Shootout is a 40-lap event with a pair of 20-lap segments. ... Recycled Percussion, the Goffstown-born band now headlining in Las Vegas, is part of the pre-race entertainment on Sunday.