At the end of a chaotic Championship Race at Phoenix Raceway that saw extreme swings in the championship fight and ended up coming down to the last corner, Ben Rhodes crossed the finish line to win his second NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series championship in the past three seasons. In becoming a multi-time Truck champion, the 26-year-old from Louisville, Ky. had a tough act to follow in post-race. And boy, did he ever.
Rhodes' first championship in 2021, where an obviously drunk Rhodes went viral after rambling about how "libations are good", imitating noises his truck was making during the race, and at one point referring to a competitor as "Mamma Jamma". Sure enough, Rhodes once again took to the podium after drinking heavily, making for a chaotic 16 minutes that were just as entertaining as his first championship speech.
"I'll kick us off with this: I was the experiment in 2021 because they just built The Barn (Phoenix Raceway's infield hospitality area that includes a bar). I went to The Barn first -- they've taken me to The Barn second. It's like they learned something," Rhodes said in his opening statement. "So guess what I did? I got lit beforehand!"
The highlights from the next 16 minutes of the press conference were as follows:
- Rhodes' comments were interrupted several times by his own burps, including during the initial question he took when he belched mid-answer. "Sorry, oh my gosh, I am very sorry. That was embarrassing. I should've pulled the mic away."
- Rhodes imitated multiple noises, including a flight from ThorSport Racing's shop in Sandusky, Ohio, to a wind tunnel in Charlotte, N.C. and the truck of Zane Smith missing a shift on a late restart that caused damage to the nose of Rhodes' truck.
- When discussing the damage he suffered, Rhodes said he could see from his cockpit that his right front fender was caved up, but not that it was caved in and rubbing on his tire -- an omission on crew chief Rich Lushes' part. "Did he say he was lying to me? It was rubbing? I knew it! ... Dang it, I knew it. I knew him. We've done this three times now. I knew he was telling a fib. A big fibber."
- Later on, when asked about what makes his relationship with Lushes work, Rhodes said, "He's got a beautiful mind. Isn't that a movie, 'A Beautiful Mind?' Is it a movie? Is that with John Travolta? Oh, sorry, I never watched it. I'm thinking of the one with John Travolta where he like can make things move with his hands. 'Phenomenon!' That has nothing to do with right now." He later referred to Lushes as being "50 billion years old" and having a "Guy Fieri haircut".
- To end an answer to a question, Rhodes blurted out "Hey, by the way everyone, dinosaurs aren't real" -- something he was apparently put up to doing in the event he won the championship.
- Rhodes revealed that he eats a steak before every race, steaks of which are sent to him by former Truck Series driver Justin Lofton who now owns a ranching company. "What's the thing? 'Beef for dinner?' Something like that. It's great. I love some cows."
- After taking a remote question from the press box, Rhodes was initially confused when the next question was fielded by a reporter in the infield media center where the press conference was taking place. "Oh, there you are! I thought we was talkin' up to the voice."
- Rhodes was very proud of the chain he was wearing -- "It's like Flava Flav."
- Rhodes revealed that he has been staying near a Topgolf in Glendale, Ariz. when asked about his plans for the rest of the night. "Was I not supposed to tell everybody where I'm staying?", he said to a member of his team. "Okay, I'm sorry. It's where I'm staying."
- When asked about the dynamic of the Truck Series, Rhodes said that he felt that Johnny Sauter was at the racetrack in spirit before going on a tangent about his relationship with the 2016 Truck champion. "I like Johnny. Remember when he called me a bozo? I called him last week and I was like, 'Hey, remember when you called me a bozo?' He's like, 'Is this my yearly Ben Rhodes call?' I said, 'Yes it is, what'chu doin' on retirement, old man?' He's having a good life. I like Johnny. That's another tangent. I'm back!"
- When told by a reporter that he would be the reason NASCAR would eventually put non-alcoholic champagne in Victory Lane, Rhodes replied "Very true. But hey, what's the saying? Will will find a way?" Rhodes later called the reporter "Mamma Jamma" in a callback to the 2021 press conference.
- Rhodes' press conference concluded with a non-sequitur about how he had given away his towel to a fan, before being told by the moderator that he had said a lot. "A lot with nothing of, uh, substance."
Rhodes' championship was set up as a result of a Truck Series Championship Race that devolved into a maddening affair over the final stage of the race, starting when Carson Hocevar spun Corey Heim with 31 laps to go while racing for the championship position. Grant Enfinger had seemingly been on his way to winning the championship with three laps to go when Heim backed up and waited on Hocevar, turning up into Hocevar's truck and putting him in the wall to bring out a caution.
Heim taking out Hocevar would set up four overtime restarts, the first of which saw Enfinger get bounced around and forced to come to pit road for new tires. After the accident that damaged Rhodes' truck, Enfinger would make one last charge to get alongside Rhodes for the championship position but ran out of time to pass Rhodes before the checkered flag.
Rhodes became the fifth driver in Craftsman Truck Series history to win multiple championships, joining NASCAR Hall of Famer Ron Hornaday as well as series greats Jack Sprague, Matt Crafton and Todd Bodine. Of that group, Rhodes is the youngest driver to have won multiple Truck championships.