Friday, October 15, 2021

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Ben Kennedy keeps NASCAR in the family with his first career win

Last weekend marked a historical weekend for those who keep close on the families of NASCAR. Ben Kennedy, great grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., picked up his first NASCAR K&N Pro Series East win at 5 Flags Speedway.

“It was definitely a really special win,” he said. “Of course, to win in Florida and at the inaugural event at 5 Flags Speedway, there is so much prestige and history at that racetrack and of course with the Snowball Derby and a bunch of really cool race that’s they put on at that racetrack.  It was really cool to win there.

“Of course, to have the race in Florida, it’s the first time I’ve ever raced in Florida in a NASCAR sanctioned series, so it was something really special, and I guess you could consider it my home track for the K&N Series.”

It marked his first win in three years of competition so it marked a special win not only for Kennedy, but for the crew guys who had been with him since the beginning.

“It was really cool to sort of see our own team develop throughout the years and sort of finally come together and finally get out there and be able to get a pole and dominate the race,” he said. “Just having everyone around me at that point was definitely something special.”

Kennedy ran the series last year, scoring three top fives and nine top 10s in 14 races.

“Just going through that learning curve with me and the team and everything, it’s certainly been a lengthy one,” he said. “But we’ve definitely come far in the past couple years.  It’s finally starting to show and it’s finally starting to pay off a little bit.”

While he is racing, the 21-year-old is also a University student at the University of Florida. He admits that balancing his schedule is difficult, but it’s all about time management.

“Whenever I’m at school, I’m pretty much focused on school and my exams and knocking all that stuff out as best as I can, so when it comes to racing and the weekend, I can put those aside and focus on the car and the set-up and what I can do better 110% on race day,” he said. “So just basically scheduling everything and being prepared for all the unexpected.”

Kennedy also has a chance to see different sides of the sport, having done an internship at Hendrick Motorsports while working at Daytona International Speedway.

“I was there at the Daytona 500 Experience and Daytona USA and all that stuff,” he said. “Did a couple jobs around there.  Then they had me running around the track and doing a bunch of different jobs from cleaning up cars and cooking up hot dogs to selling programs, and a bunch of different really cool, unique stuff.  I got to see a little bit of the business side and a little bit of the competition side as well.”

As a result, he says it gives him a well-rounded perspective as the sport of the whole, opening the sport to how diverse it is and how family oriented it is.

“It really opened my eyes to see what all goes on during the race weekend both at the track and off the track,” he said. “Just sort of the whole broad aspect of it.”

Kennedy will open his eyes to another new perspective later this year when he makes his NASCAR Camping World Truck Series debut at Bristol Motor Speedway with Turner Scott Motorsports.

“My crew chief Mike Fritts was over there crew chiefing Ricky Carmichael when he was there, and I’ve heard nothing but good stuff about Turner Scott Motorsports and everything they do,” Kennedy said. “Of course, their performance on the track is absolutely phenomenal.  Kyle (Larson) does an awesome job.  He’s a great race car driver and James (Buescher) and all those guys.

“I’m really excited to get out there and race.  We tested in New Smyrna in a truck in probably mid-December of last year, and really cool to be around the guys.  Great bunch of people.  I know they have awesome equipment and I’m looking forward to Bristol.”

Beyond Bristol, Kennedy will also run Iowa and Homestead for Steve Turner and his team.

“I wanted to start at a short track, because I’ve been around Bristol,” Kennedy said. “We raced there last year in the can K&N series, and we raced there this year as well.  I felt like it would be a comfortable place to start at.  It is definitely an intimidating place, but I’m looking forward to it.

“I’ve had laps around Iowa as well.  Sort of moving to Homestead to try to advance my NASCAR license to have the opportunity to run full-time trucks in 2014.”

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