Spire Motorsports announced today that NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Championship contender Ben Rhodes will make his NASCAR Cup Series (NCS) debut driving the team’s No. 77 Kaeding Performance Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 1LE in Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway.
Rhodes, a 24-year-old Louisville, Ky., native, kicked off the 2021 season for ThorSport Racing by winning the NCWTS season-opener at Daytona International Speedway. He went back-to-back a week later by capturing the checkered flag in Round 2 at the iconic venue’s 3.61-mile infield road course.
Rhodes is currently second in NCWTS points on the strength of three poles, two wins, five top-five and nine top-10 finishes. Most recently, he finished third at Charlotte Motor Speedway where he locked down his fifth top three of the 2021 season. Over the first 10 races, Rhodes has earned an impressive 6.3 average start, a 6.2 average finish, led 66 laps and completed all but one of the 1,278 laps contested.
“You only get to make your first Cup start once and to do it with Spire Motorsports is pretty special,” said Rhodes. “I have a fun and long history with the Spire family but we haven’t worked together in a few years so it’s nice to come full circle. It’s daunting to make my first Cup start at a road course that I have no experience at, but I’m confident the team will have the car comfortable and fast. This is pretty exciting for me, and Sonoma can’t get here quick enough.”
Rhodes raced his way to NASCAR’s upper echelons from the Go Kart, Bandolero, and Legends Car ranks. He added an exclamation point to his young career when at just 17-years-old, he earned 2014 NASCAR K&N Pro Series East (NKNPSE) Championship honors while simultaneously being named the series’ Rookie of the Year and Most Popular Driver.
Meanwhile, Kaeding Performance joins Spire Motorsports as the primary sponsor of the team’s No. 77 entry for the NCS’ annual visit to northern California.
The Kaeding family has rich history in both racing and business and combined the two disciplines in the early 1960s to forge a successful high-performance business in Campbell, Calif.
Founded by brothers Howard and Herb Kaeding, what began as a wheel-widening and repair business evolved into a specialized Sprint Car performance center. Today, the Kaeding family is represented by three generations of champions including Howard, Brent, Tim and Bud.
Kaeding Performance relies on championship-caliber racing experience to provide its customers the latest in sprint car technology, set-up advice and unwavering confidence in the parts it sells.
Thursday night, Howard Kaeding will be enshrined in the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame as part of the 2020 Heritage Inductee Class at the Meritage Resort and Spa in Napa, Calif.
The elder Kaeding is a three-time NASCAR State of California and San Jose (Calif.) Speedway supermodified champion. The Golden State racing legend once won 17 main events in a row – all while starting last. Kaeding is a pioneering speed shop operator and patriarch to a three-generation racing family that includes son Brent (“The California King”), a 13-time Northern Auto Racing Club (NARC) champion and World of Outlaws winner.
“Ben Rhodes has long been a part of the Spire family and we’re thrilled to have him make his NASCAR Cup Series debut in Spire Motorsports’ No. 77 Chevrolet,” said Spire Motorsports co-owner T.J. Puchyr. “Ben is a great kid and comes from a great family. Justin Haley will be focusing on his NASCAR Xfinity championship aspirations at Mid-Ohio so this was a great opportunity for Ben to slide in the seat. He’s a tremendous road racer and has earned this opportunity. We think a ton of Ben and we’re eager to see how he does at Sonoma.
“We’re also honored to have Kaeding Performance as our primary sponsor this weekend. The Kaeding family has such proud motorsports pedigree and to be able to pay some homage to the family and to Mr. Kaeding the week he’s inducted into the West Coast Stock Car/Motorsports Hall of Fame is a privilege for our entire organization.”
Following post-race inspection last weekend in Charlotte, the No. 77 was found to have two loose lug nuts, and per the NASCAR rule book, crew chief Kevin Bellicourt will be sidelined for this weekend’s event. Veteran NASCAR top kick and former Spire Motorsports’ crew chief Peter Sospenzo will fill in at Sonoma Raceway in Bellicourt’s absence. Sospenzo was on the call when Spire Motorsports earned the victory when Haley took the checkered flag in the Coke Zero Sugar 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 7, 2019.
The Toyota/Save Mart 350 from Sonoma Raceway will be televised live on FS1 Sunday, June 6 beginning at 4 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time. The 16th of 36 races on the 2021 NCS schedule will be broadcast live on the Performance Racing Network and SiriusXM NASCAR Radio Channel 90.
— Spire Motorsport —