Louisville native Ben Rhodes gets first victory of 2018 at Kentucky Speedway

"I was really anxious", Rhodes said.

Kentucky native Ben Rhodes claimed his second-career NASCAR Camping World Truck Series win, his first of 2018, in his home state Thursday night when he took the checkered flag in the Buckle Up In Your Truck 225 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.

"We've had trucks like this all year long, finally we could showcase it".

Rhodes' truck carried the name of Louisville Metro Police Officer Nick Rodman, who was killed in the line of duty previous year.

"This race was a tribute to him and his memory", Rhodes said.

Matt Crafton finished third after also starting in the back.

Gragson retook the lead and won Stage 2.

Rhodes held off Stewart Friesen by.922 seconds at the line for his first win of the season and the first victory for ThorSport since switching to Ford Performance at the start of 2018.

Matt Crafton, Brandon Jones and John Hunter Nemechek rounded out the Top 5.

Rhodes passed pole-sitter Gragson with three laps remaining in the first segment to win Stage 1.

In all, there were 11 lead changes among five drivers.

Friesen took the lead from Parker Kligerman on Lap 88 and remained out front until pitting with 28 laps remaining.

Stewart Friesen looked strong in the closing laps as he pitted from the lead to add two tires and fuel.

Not taking tires on that final stop was a gamble, but one Rhodes' crew chief was willing to take. The young racer led 38 laps on his way to victory lane. "Proud of the guys, but I made a little mistake there and it cost us". Friesen later stalled leaving the pit box while eventual race victor Ben Rhodes stayed out another lap. "It's been a long time coming and I'm so thrilled for my team". "Just a solid lap".

Johnny Sauter, who was assessed a speeding penalty on pit road late in the race, finished 15th but retained the points lead by 42 over Gragson.

Kentucky gave NASCAR the Waltrips, the Greens and Jeremy Mayfield. Rhodes is keeping that tradition alive and wants the climb up the NASCAR ladder to continue beyond the Truck Series. "They've been behind us 100 percent".

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