With a victory and a second-place finish in his two NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series starts at dirt-covered Bristol Motor Speedway, Ben Rhodes said last year that he really enjoys racing on the clay version of the World’s Fastest Half-Mile.

In fact, he grabbed everyone’s attention when he boldly stated that he prefers Dirt Bristol to Concrete Bristol.

Wait. What?

“I really enjoy it,” Rhodes said. “I might be the only one that thinks this, but I enjoy the dirt in Bristol more than the concrete actually.”

It’s one of the reasons why Rhodes is among the favorites to win this season’s WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race on Dirt, Saturday night, April 8 at Bristol Motor Speedway. The highly-anticipated NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race is scheduled to take the green flag at 8 p.m. and will be broadcast live on FS1 and on MRN Radio.

The veteran driver and former series champ says the Bristol dirt configuration really fits his style of racing, and during his Bristol career on concrete, his best effort has been a fifth place finish in eight career starts.

“Well, my record wasn’t the best here on the concrete,” Rhodes said with a grin. “I think (dirt) is a whole lot of fun. I love that you can throw the truck into the corners, and you will have the banking to catch you.”

Rhodes said despite not having much of a background in dirt racing, for some reason he had an instant feel for racing on dirt at Bristol. He said it was a better fit for him than some of the other dirt tracks the series has visited.

“When you just start sliding and sliding and sliding, I mean, some people like that, but I don’t,” Rhodes explained. “My feel is when I throw it in there, I want to know I’ve got something to lean on and the banking provides that. I’ve never experienced that before. Eldora – it had banking, but not like this. Knoxville, it would take rubber, but it doesn’t just grab the truck and help you through the corner.”

The Kentucky racer quickly adapted to the style of racing that dirt-covered Bristol demanded at the controls of his No. 99 Thorsport Truck in 2021 when he finished second to eventual winner Martin Truex Jr. He led three laps of that race and ran up front most of the day.

Last year Rhodes had the fastest truck in the field but thought he had thrown the race away in the final stage after winning the first two. After leading the first 91 laps, Rhodes found himself in 13th place after he had to pit at the end of Stage 2. Due to a miscommunication he missed the entrance to pit road and failed to pit after winning Stage 1.

Carson Hocevar took the lead on lap 92 and led the race until the hard-charging Rhodes filled his rearview mirror as the laps counted down.

“I kept looking up in the mirror hoping and man, he’s fifth and he really can’t go anywhere and once I knew he was fourth, I was like 'Oh, I’m in trouble here,” Hocevar said. “He slide-jobbed me and I should have prepared for it, crossed him over and raced him really hard.”

Hocevar said he didn’t have much choice once Rhodes caught him and made his move to pass for the lead with four laps to go in the race. The late race drama put the Bristol crowd on its feet.

“I should’ve either ripped the top or crashed him,” Hocevar said. “I hate saying that, but it’s part of racing, right? I just couldn’t compete with him. He had better tires and he was the fastest truck all day. I was just trying to hold on. Second sucks. It’s terrible, especially being that close.”

Rhodes, who led a race-best 95 laps in taking the victory, was relieved after working his way back to the front. He thought his chance to win was all but over after his earlier miscue.

“I thought we gave it away for a moment,” Rhodes said. “Coming back through the pack like that was really, really tough. It wasn’t something we wanted to do.  My crew gave me such an awesome truck that I wasn’t going to let them down. I had to go back up there and earn that spot back.

“I knew we had the truck to beat, we just had to get there.”

The Bristol race weekend is highlighted by the NASCAR Cup Series returning to its roots with the Food City Dirt Race on Sunday evening, April 9 (7 p.m., FOX and PRN Radio). The WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race on Dirt will be preceded by Bush’s Beans Qualifying (FS1), which offers four heat races in each series to set the starting lineups. On Friday, teams in both the Cup Series and Craftsman Truck Series will be able to fine-tune their machines during Bush’s Beans Practice Day (FS1).

In addition to cheering on their favorite drivers during the weekend, Bristol Motor Speedway fans will definitely want to take advantage of so many activities to make a complete weekend of family fun. There will be great video entertainment provided by Colossus TV, the world's largest center-hung video screen, premium VIP experiences like the Super Fan Suites, tailgating, a visit to the BMS Kids Zone and BMS Fan Zone and Fan Midway, on-site camping, concerts and other entertainment at the Food City Fan Zone Stage like the Race Day Revival with Kenny Wallace and John Roberts, great food and beverages in the concession stands throughout the property, and so much more.

To purchase tickets for Sunday's Food City Dirt Race or Saturday's WEATHER GUARD® Truck Race on Dirt and Bush’s Beans Qualifying, please visit the BMS website, or call the BMS Ticket Sales Center at (866) 415-4158.