Richmond, VA, April 25, 2014– Kenzie Ruston has been selected to be a member of the NASCAR Next class of 2014-2015. Ruston will begin her second year as a NASCAR Next member, as she continues to develop into one of the sports future superstars. Last season she was a relative unknown to a majority of race fans; after her strong performances and increased exposure through NASCAR Next, Kenzie Ruston is well on her way to being a household name.
In her first season as a member of NASCAR Next, Ruston set records on the track. Her finish of third at Greenville Pickens Speedway, and sixth place in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East standings, made Ruston the highest finishing female in a race and in series points’ history.
Off the track, Ruston gained new perspective and improved through NASCAR Next.
“NASCAR Next gives young drivers the bigger picture,” said Ruston. “Through the events at the race track and away from the racetrack, NASCAR Next members get a chance to see ways we can help the sport grow, while the sport helps us grow.”
Of all the events Ruston has attended the last 12 months, Daytona 500 Media Day ranks near the top. “Being a part of Daytona 500 Media day this year was a big deal. The Daytona 500 is the biggest event in NASCAR, and when you are asked to be a part of the event, and a part of the story it means the a lot.”
Team principle Ben Kennedy, an alumnus of the NASCAR Next program said: “The NASCAR Next program is a big deal. I think Kenzie should be in the program because she is a great representative of the sport and a tough competitor on the track. I have no doubt that she will be in the national series in the next few years and look forward to racing with her up the ranks. She is also a great spokesperson off the track with appearances and media engagement. Kenzie is a driver that a majority of race fans can relate to, and she’s hard for them not to like. It’s great for Ben Kennedy Racing to have Kenzie in the NASCAR Next Program. It puts an extra spotlight on us and gives the team a unique way to help Kenzie in her development.”
Mike Fritts, Crew Chief for Kenzie Ruston, feels her on track performance is a key to her selection. “Everyone knows Kenzie is a great personality for the sport,” he said. “What a lot of people don’t know about Kenzie is how knowledgeable she is when it comes to these [NASCAR K&N Pro Series] cars. Kenzie can articulate things about the car that very few drivers can. She also knows what feel she is looking for at every track we compete on. Having a driver that can understand what changes you’re suggesting, and then be able to give you accurate feedback on those changes is extremely valuable. Kenzie is a tremendous driver and I’m pretty confident we will get a win or two this year.”
NASCAR Next is an evolution of the Next9 initiative that began in 2011. The program is an industry initiative to spotlight NASCAR’s rising stars and increase fan recognition around the talent that will grow into NASCAR Sprint Cup Series mainstays. In addition to competing in various NASCAR series across the country, drivers in the program will participate in several media and promotional events throughout the next 12 months.
NASCAR Next has become the developmental platform in helping drivers make the transition from NASCAR Home Tracks to the top three national touring series divisions. Former NASCAR Next drivers who have gone on to win in the top three series include, Kyle Larson, Darrell Wallace Jr., Ryan Blaney and Chase Elliott.
“It’s an honor to be part of the new NASCAR Next class, but my focus remains on winning races,” said Ruston. “I love participating in all of the extra events that are a part of NASCAR Next, but at the end of the day, I am committed to winning races and the championship this season. I want to be known as a great driver and not just a marketing tool.”
Kenzie Ruston will attend a science fair in Washington DC on Sunday, April 26 as her first official event of the NASCAR Next 2014/2015 Class. The next race for the NASCAR K&N Pro Series and Kenzie is May 17 at Iowa Speedway.