LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Asked about a Louisville native's road ahead in the world of NASCAR, a hall of famer in the sport says the future is bright.
1999 NASCAR Cup Series Champion Dale Jarrett shared those remarks Thursday about truck series driver Ben Rhodes. The two spoke at a luncheon in the Slugger Field Clubhouse Room hosted by the Kentucky Speedway.
“He has what it takes,” Jarrett said of Rhodes. “It’s just a matter of getting that experience on all types of tracks, to basically win and compete at all of those type tracks. That’s going to move him forward.”
Rhodes took a big step forward last summer in Sparta at the Kentucky Speedway, capturing the checkered flag in the Buckle Up in Your Truck 225.
Rhodes is excited to get to Daytona and start the new race season with new team members.
“I think some of them are a little green,” the soon-to-be 22-year-old said. "I think the average age on my team is going to be 27. My crew chief’s like 28; my engineer’s like 24.
“It’s a very young team and I know for them that it kind of gives some confidence that I’m a veteran of the series now and places where I’ve won at. I can tell them exactly what I need in these race trucks.”
As far as Kentucky Speedway, where the notorious turn 3 has been referred to by the likes of Kyle Busch as an “ice-skating rink,” Jarrett agreed with a reporter’s suggestion Thursday that it is a driver’s track.
"Especially those drivers that we look at that are at the top of their game at a particular time," he said. "They really like coming here because they know that the skill level that it takes to win in Kentucky is so high."
Busch can't complain about the track too much. He won the inaugural race there in 2011 and did so again in 2015.
Martin Truex Jr. has won the past two races, where Toyota cars have taken the checkered flag in five of the eight Quaker State 400s.
Jarrett, a three-time Daytona 500 winner, never had the opportunity to run in a Cup Race in Sparta, retiring in 2008.
As for Rhodes, the Holy Cross grad will try to further his path as a racing phenom on Feb. 15, when the Gander Outdoors Truck Series kicks off with the NextEra Energy 250.
The schedule has Rhodes trying to defend his win last year in Sparta on July 11.
Two days later is the NASCAR Cup Series' Quaker State 400, under the lights on July 13.
You can find ticket info for the entire weekend at Kentucky Speedway here.