Christopher Bell and Ben Rhodes have claimed victories in the first two event of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Playoffs. Bell led 73 of 175 laps and swept all the stages en route to the victory in the UNOH 175 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Rhodes led 20 laps out of 146 and won stage two on his way to taking the checkered flag in the Las Vegas 350 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Bell has five victories on the season, after 18 races, and has led over a quarter of the season’s laps. He currently has an average finish of sixth. He has only finished outside of the top-10 twice, which are his two DNFs on the season: a crash at Dover early in the season and an engine failure in Canada. Other than that, Bell has been unbelievably solid in 2017, and is a solid choice for champion come November.
Rhodes, however, got into the playoffs only through a tiebreaker with Ryan Truex. He has three DNFs on the season and an average finish just outside the top-10. He has scored top-10 finishes in 11 of 18 races this season and has been looking up recently, with only one finish outside the top-10 in the last seven races. That finish was an 11th at Michigan. He also led laps in four of those last seven races. Rhodes isn’t as dominant as Bell, but he could be a contender later on and he certainly has momentum on his side.
These two young drivers have separated themselves as contenders for the Truck Series Championship, but veterans like Johnny Sauter and Matt Crafton, as well as other, younger drivers like Chase Briscoe and Austin Cindric will be looking to knock them down a notch.