LOUDON, N.H. – By Tom Bryant, NASCAR — Getty Images photo — Ben Rhodes has repeatedly been asked if the opportunity to tie the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East record for consecutive wins this week is becoming a distraction.
Based on his track-record performance in capturing the pole for Friday’s Granite State 100 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, it’s clear the 17-year-old NASCAR Next driver isn’t suffering from the attention.
“I just do my best and forget the rest,” Rhodes said after posting a fast lap of 128.580 mph (29.622 second) around the 1.058-mile oval. A victory in Friday’s race would let Rhodes tie Ricky Craven’s 23-year-old record of five straight series wins.
Rhodes, the series championship points leader, broke the track mark of 128.467 (29.648) set by Brett Moffitt in Sept. 2012. He has qualified either first or second in nine of the season’s 10 races.
Rhodes’ No. 41 Alpha Energy Solutions Chevrolet went out with two other cars remaining to go in qualifying and knocked Jesse Little off the provisional pole, denying the second-generation driver his first career pole.
Little will start on the outside of the front row after a qualifying lap of 29.673 (128.359).
Chad Finley, making his second series start, qualified third. Finley started third and finished 12th earlier this season at Richmond International Raceway.
Sergio Pena and Gray Gaulding qualified fourth and fifth, respectively. Rhodes’ Turner Scott Motorsports teammates Scott Heckert, Brandon Jones, and Cameron Hayley took positions six through eight, while Massachusetts driver Eddie McDonald and Nick Drake rounded out the top ten.
MacDonald, who has three New Hampshire wins in the K&N Pro East, is the last driver to beat Rhodes, taking the lead from him on a green-white-checkered finish to win at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 15.
McDonald will also make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in Sunday’s Camping World RV Sales 301.
The Granite State 100 is set to take the green flag Friday at 6 p.m. ET. It will air on Fox Sports 1 on July 20 at noon.