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Phoenix Truck Series results: Christian Eckes wins, Ben Rhodes captures championship

Ben Rhodes won the championship in the fourth overtime attempt.

NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Craftsman 150

Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Getty Images

AVONDALE, Ariz. – On a night where Truck Series drivers wrecked each other with regularity, it was a respectful move by another Championship 4 driver that sealed Ben Rhodes’ second title in three seasons.

Grant Enfinger chased down Rhodes on fresher tires in the fourth overtime. He pulled up to the bumper of Rhodes’ damaged No. 99 Ford on the final lap of the race. Enfinger chose to cut his fellow driver a break.

Enfinger avoided intentional contact, even though it cost him the championship in GMS Racing’s final Truck Series race. He crossed the line sixth and ended the season second in the championship standings.

“Grant almost got me,” Rhodes told FOX Sports’ Regan Smith after the race. “Hats off to him. He ran a great race. I wouldn’t want to race against anybody else for the championship. He raced me clean and I respect the hell out of him for it.”

Enfinger said in his post-race press conference that he could have “bulldozed” him and Rhodes at the end. He didn’t have the momentum to make the move. Enfinger said that even if he had the run, he wouldn’t have done anything different.

Rhodes is now the youngest multi-time Truck Series champion. He also joins an exclusive list of drivers with multiple Truck championships. This list includes four-time champion Ron Hornaday Jr., three-time champion Jack Sprague, three-time champion Matt Crafton and two-time champion Todd Bodine.

Final nuggets from championship race at Phoenix

Here are some takeaways from the season finale at Phoenix Raceway.

Chaos was the story at Phoenix

The Truck Series finale at Phoenix had four overtime attempts that ended its length by 29 laps. There were 12 cautions for 77 laps, including seven in the final stage.

The championship contenders had a simple word to describe the race — chaos.

A prominent example of this chaos was the crash involving Corey Heim and Carson Hocevar with three to go. This sent the race into overtime for the first time. Cautions for Derek Kraus, Zane Smith and Ty Majeski only further extended the race as the aggressive moves continued.

“I think that kind of started a chain reaction to just chaos, which is, I guess, entertaining,” Grant Enfinger said after the race. “It’s frustrating (when you are) running for a championship.”

Enfinger added that the Truck Series field “got a bad rap” tonight with all of the overtime attempts.

Heim had similar comments about the final stretch of the race: “It turned into such a wreckfest. Like, it’s ridiculous.”

Missed opportunities for Christian Eckes

Christian Eckes celebrated his fourth Truck Series win of the season Friday at Phoenix. This was a positive way to cap off the season. It also served as a reminder of what could have been.

Eckes made it to the Round of 8 of the playoffs. He started the round with a second-place finish at Bristol but finished 19th at Talladega.

Eckes was eliminated at Homestead after a 20th-place finish. He missed out on the opportunity to contend the championship at Phoenix, a track where he ultimately won.

Being eliminated put a damper on the evening. Eckes was able to celebrate. He just didn’t quite get to fully enjoy the victory.

“Yeah, that one is going to sting,” Eckes said about missing out on the championship trophy. “It still stings. It’s awesome to win. It’s always awesome to win, especially with our great partners. But to come short of the goal of winning a championship and being able to come and win the final race find of stinks for sure.

“It is what it is now, and we can always look back and Monday morning quarterback it and say that we could be champions, but at the end of the day we aren’t, and at the end of the day I’m also really proud of the whole 99 group. That was my team last year at ThorSport for the most part with a few different pieces.”

Final Truck Series points report

After 23 races, the 2023 Truck Series season is complete.

Ben Rhodes is the champion after a fifth-place finish at Phoenix Raceway. He didn’t need to win the race. He just needed to finish ahead of Grant Enfinger, Corey Heim and Carson Hocevar.

Rhodes did just that. He crossed the finish line one spot ahead of Enfinger and sealed the championship by one point. He also secured the owner championship for ThorSport Racing by one point.

Updated driver points | Updated owner points

Heim crossed the finish line 18th. He was third among the Championship 4 drivers. He ends the season 13 points behind Rhodes. Hocevar ended the day 29th after a crash. He is fourth in the championship standings 24 points behind Rhodes.

Christian Eckes, Nick Sanchez, Zane Smith and Ty Majeski rounded out the top eight. Matt Crafton in ninth and Matt DiBenedetto in 10th were the final two playoff drivers.

Crafton’s ninth-place finish in the championship standings marks the 17th consecutive season he has ended the year ninth or better. This includes three championship wins.

The last time Crafton finished worse than ninth in the season-ending standings was the 2006 season. He finished 14th.

Results, stats package after Phoenix

Christian Eckes won the race. Ben Rhodes won the championship. Nick Sanchez won Rookie of the Year.

Click here to see where everyone finished at Phoenix.

Click here for the cumulative race report.

Click here for the penalty report.

Christian Eckes wins, Ben Rhodes is the champion!

The Truck Series season is official. Christian Eckes won the season finale at Phoenix Raceway. His fourth win of the year.

Ben Rhodes is the Truck Series champion. He crossed the finish line fifth overall with Grant Enfinger just behind him in sixth. This was the gap that separated the two remaining championship contenders.

Jake Garcia finished second in the race. Chase Purdy was third and Jesse Love was fourth.

Corey Heim crossed the line 18th after sustaining damage in an incident also involving Carson Hocevar.

Overtime No. 3: Caution for Ty Majeski

The Truck Series race is heading to its fourth overtime after a caution for Ty Majeski.

The incident occurred on the triple overtime restart. Majeski was on the second row. He helped push Chase Purdy to the front but then he spun after contact from Jesse Love. This sent Majeski into the inside wall.

There was a chain reaction as Tyler Hill and Matt Crafton both spun. Zane Smith sustained more damage after spinning in double overtime.

Ben Rhodes remained in the championship lead. He was fifth in the running order. Grant Enfinger remained in 14th. Corey Heim was in 19th.

Overtime No. 2: Caution for Zane Smith

Cautions breed cautions at Phoenix Raceway.

The championship race is heading to triple overtime after a wreck on the double overtime restart.

The incident occurred after the field took the green flag. Zane Smith jumped to the lead over Christian Eckes and Ben Rhodes. He suddenly slowed after missing a shift and contact from Rhodes sent him spinning toward the inside wall.

There was significant damage to the front of Rhodes’ No. 99 Ford. However, his team said that the fender was fine and that everything was fine.

Overtime No. 1: Caution for Derek Kraus

The Truck Series race is heading to double overtime after a late caution.

The cause of the yellow was Derek Kraus spinning into the outside wall. The incident occurred right as the leaders were about to take the white flag, but the official pulled it back and threw the yellow.

This sent the race to another overtime and ensured that Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger would face off one more time for the championship.

Rhodes had taken the lead on the overtime restart. He used an aggressive move to dive between Zane Smith and Christian Eckes. This put him ahead of Enfinger, who sustained damage after getting pinched by Eckes.

Enfinger used the caution to head down pit road for fresh tires and fuel. Everyone else, including Rhodes, stayed out on the track.

Three to go: Big crash collects Carson Hocevar

The Truck Series championship race is about to head to overtime after a caution for a multi-truck crash.

Corey Heim and Carson Hocevar were the cause of the caution. Heim saw Hocevar coming up behind him with three laps remaining in the race. He moved to the right and slammed Hocevar into the wall.

This wrecked both trucks and collected Taylor Gray, who spun trying to avoid the incident. It also sent the championship race into overtime with only Grant Enfinger and Ben Rhodes as the only championship contenders remaining.

Hocevar was unable to complete the race. He finished 29th. Heim spent extensive time on pit road as his team attempted to make repairs.

21 to go: Caution for a three-truck crash

A multi-truck crash has brought out the caution with 21 laps to go at Phoenix.

Stefan Parsons, Daniel Dye and Bayley Currey were the cause of the yellow flag. Parsons was spun by Currey. He slid across the apron of the track and then back up into the side of Currey’s truck. This incident also collected Dye.

The crash brought out the red flag as crews worked on cleaning up the track. This brought the championship race to a halt. The red flag lasted 11 minutes and 44 seconds.

Zane Smith was in the lead at the time of caution with Christian Eckes behind him. Ben Rhodes was third and in the lead for the championship. Grant Enfinger was fourth.

Corey Heim was 12th after rebounding from being spun by Carson Hocevar with 31 to go. Hocevar was 18th after falling through the field on a restart.

31 to go: Carson Hocevar spins Corey Heim

The championship race at Phoenix has taken a significant turn for Corey Heim.

The regular-season champion passed Carson Hocevar for fifth with 31 laps remaining in the race. This put Heim in the championship lead. He did not hold it for very long.

Hocevar hit Heim from behind multiple times, ultimately spinning the No. 11 into the side of Stewart Friesen. This brought out the caution and sent Heim back to pit road for fresh tires and some work on his rear fender. The incident ruined Friesen’s night.

Lap 101: Caution for Conner Jones and Jake Drew

A multi-truck crash at Phoenix has brought out the caution with fewer than 50 laps to go.

Jake Drew and Conner Jones were the cause of the yellow. They slammed hard into the wall and slid back across the track with their trucks tangled together. This was after they spent multiple laps battling hard for 16th.

Ben Rhodes had a close call prior to the caution. He was squeezed between Hailie Deegan and Dean Thompson while trying to work his way back through the field on fresh tires.

Corey Heim wins stage 2

Two stages are complete at Phoenix Raceway and Corey Heim remains in the championship lead.

Heim won stage 2 at Phoenix after taking the lead from Ty Majeski on pit road. He held off Zane Smith after a late restart in stage 2 and scored his eighth stage win of the season.

Majeski crossed the line third. He was followed by Christian Eckes, Taylor Gray, Ben Rhodes, Chase Purdy, Grant Enfinger, Jake Garcia and Carson Hocevar.

Hocevar was the only Championship 4 driver on four fresh tires. He stopped after the Lap 77 caution for Tyler Hill spinning while Heim, Rhodes and Enfinger all stayed out on the track.

Lap 77: Caution for Tyler Hill

The caution has flown once again at Phoenix Raceway.

Tyler Hill was the cause of the caution. He spun off of Turn 2 after an apparent tire issue.

The timing of the caution created questions about strategy. There would be a late restart and a mad dash to the end of the stage. Would the championship contenders stop for tires?

Race-leader Corey Heim stayed out on the track. Championship contender Carson Hocevar used the opportunity to stop for fresh tires. Ben Rhodes and Grant Enfinger both stayed out on the track.

Lap 56: Caution for Chris Hacker

The caution has flown at Phoenix Raceway.

An incident involving Chris Hacker and Marco Andretti was the cause for the yellow. Hacker had to climb from the No. 30 after it sustained race-ending damage.

Andretti worked his way back to pit road so the No. 7 team could examine the front of the truck. He was not able to continue in the race.

Corey Heim was the leader at the time of the incident. Zane Smith was in second. Behind him was stage 1 winner Ty Majeski, Carson Hocevar and Taylor Gray.

Championship contender Grant Enfinger was in seventh at the time of the incident. Ben Rhodes was in 13th after spending extra time on pit road for adjustments.

Ty Majeski wins stage 1

One stage is complete at Phoenix Raceway.

Ty Majeski won the opening stage after taking the lead from Corey Heim at the start of the race and leading the first 45 laps.

Heim ended the stage second. He was followed by Zane Smith, Ben Rhodes, Nick Sanchez, Chase Purdy, Christian Eckes, Carson Hocevar, Grant Enfinger and Taylor Gray.

Stage points do not matter to Heim, Rhodes, Hocevar and Enfinger. Their only goal is to finish the race ahead of the other Championship 4 contenders.

Lap 30: Ty Majeski continues to lead

The Truck Series drivers have completed 30 laps at Phoenix Raceway. Ty Majeski has led them all.

The ThorSport driver took the lead from pole-sitter Corey Heim at the start of the race. He then held off Heim on the restart after an early caution for Stewart Friesen.

Heim, the regular-season champion, continues to race in second. He is two seconds behind Majeski. Ben Rhodes is in fourth after losing position to Zane Smith.

Carson Hocevar and Grant Enfinger have both cracked the top 10. They run eighth and ninth as the end of stage 1 approaches.

Lap 5: Caution for Stewart Friesen

The caution has flown for the first time at Phoenix Raceway.

Stewart Friesen was the cause of the incident. Derek Kraus got loose in the No. 77. He chased the Truck up the hill but made contact with the rear of Friesen’s No. 52. This sent the Toyota spinning.

Ty Majeski was in the lead at the time of the caution. Corey Heim, Ben Rhodes, Nick Sanchez and Zane Smith rounded out the top five. Carson Hocevar was 13th and Grant Enfinger was 19th. Enfinger moved up to 16th after the caution.

Green flag in the air at Phoenix!

The final race of the Truck Series season has officially begun with Corey Heim taking the green flag.

Heim started on the inside with Ty Majeski in the outside lane. Once Heim entered the restart zone, he lost his spot to Majeski. Ben Rhodes moved from fifth into third after diving to the bottom of the track.

The drivers continued to make aggressive moves throughout the field, going three- and four-wide in the opening two laps.

Once the field settled, Majeski kept his spot at the front of the pack. Heim and Rhodes raced behind him. Carson Hocevar remained in 13th where he started the race. Grant Enfinger fell from 17th to 19th.

GMS Racing is not the only organization shutting down its Truck Series operation after Friday’s season finale. Kyle Busch Motorsports will also run its final race after Kyle Busch sold his Truck team, Rowdy Manufacturing and his 77,000-square foot facility to Spire Motorsports.

KBM holds the Truck Series records for most wins (100) and most wins in a single season (14 in 2014). KBM has won the owner championship seven times and the driver championship twice. Christopher Bell won the title in 2017. Erik Jones won the title in 2015.

KBM will close out its tenure in the Truck Series with Chase Purdy in the No. 4 Chevrolet and Jack Wood in the No. 51 Chevrolet. The team also has an alliance with Rev Racing and the No. 2 Chevrolet driven by Nick Sanchez.

Phoenix starting lineup: Corey Heim claims pole

Championship contender Corey Heim will lead the Truck Series field to the green flag for Friday’s championship race (10 p.m. ET on FS1).

Heim won the pole with a lap of 136.654 mph. This is his fourth pole of the season and his first since Mid-Ohio in July. Heim won this road course race after starting from pole and leading 30 laps.

Ty Majeski will line up second with a lap of 136.571 mph. Majeski is followed by Nick Sanchez (136.415 mph), Zane Smith (136.199 mph) and Chase Purdy (135.931 mph).

More: Phoenix starting lineup

Ben Rhodes is the next Championship 4 driver. He qualified sixth with a lap of 135.823 mph. Rhodes has started inside the top 10 in all nine of his Phoenix starts.

Carson Hocevar in 13th (135.181 mph) and Grant Enfinger in 17th (134. 509 mph) are the other two Championship 4 drivers.

Keith McGee in the No. 33 Ford and Spencer Boyd in the No. 12 Chevrolet were the two drivers that did not qualify for Friday night’s race.

The green flag for Friday’s race is scheduled to wave at 10:11 p.m. ET.

Drivers, storylines to watch at Phoenix

An important detail to note is that none of these four championship-eligible drivers have to win Friday’s race. They just have to finish ahead of the others. This is something that Ben Rhodes did in 2021.

Rhodes did not win the season finale at Phoenix in his championship season. He finished third behind race-winner Chandler Smith and runner-up Stewart Friesen. Neither driver was in the Championship 4. Zane Smith, John Hunter Nemechek and Matt Crafton all finished behind Rhodes and fell short of their championship goals.

None of this year’s Championship 4 drivers have won at Phoenix in the Truck Series. Rhodes’ best finish is second last season. Heim’s best is seventh last season. Enfinger’s best is fourth in 2018. Hocevar’s best is ninth in 2021.

Additional storylines to watch

--Friday marks the end of an era in NASCAR. GMS Racing will close out a tenure in the Truck Series that started in 2013 and featured 45 wins and two championships. The goal for the team is to go out on a high note.

GMS Racing’s Grant Enfinger is one of the remaining championship-eligible drivers. He will have an opportunity to win his second championship with GMS, his first in the Truck Series. Enfinger won the 2015 ARCA championship with GMS.

Enfinger has three wins on the season, tied for the second-most in the series. He has led 232 laps this season, the second-most of his career. If he can add to these statistics, he will have the opportunity to deliver one final celebration to his team.

--Rhodes has experienced the highs and lows of being in the Championship 4. He won the title in 2021 and then lost it the following season after being passed by Zane Smith with fewer than five laps to go. This is something that he does not want to experience again in his third Championship 4 appearance.

“We won one, and then we lost one,” Rhodes said during Championship 4 Media Day. “I knew what it felt like finally — just terrible. I don’t want to feel like that again. You better believe that we’re going to do everything we can this race.

“The dejection you feel carries with you for so long, especially when it’s a late-race restart. Three laps. You’re looking at less than a minute and a half between knowing if you are the champion or aren’t. It’s incredible. It’s hard to put into words really what that is and the range of emotions that you experience from the drop of that final green flag.”