With a new team and manufacture for the upcoming season, Ben Kennedy is ready to go for this year as he looks to improve on the success that he had during his rookie campaign in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.
“I’m really looking forward to the season,” he commented. “I think it’s going to be a great season aligned with Toyota and Red Horse Racing. A lot of positives around that announcement, and we’re getting close to announcing our crew chief pretty soon. So really excited about that. I’m just really excited to start off on a fresh foot here.”
After posting a ninth place finish in points last year, Kennedy announced last month that he will be joining Red Horse Racing for the 2015 season as a teammate to Timothy Peters. Beyond looking forward to getting to the track, the Florida native is ready to work with his teammate, saying that the pair are already good friends having hit it off during an autograph session last year.
“I think that is something it takes a lot of people to realize is how much of a community the Camping World Truck Series – and all of the NASCAR garage areas are. Everyone is really close to each other,” Kennedy expressed. “I think Timothy and I will work really well together. We have really similar personalities and we both want to go out there and win, and want to be competitive. I think our drive to win will kind of fuel each other as competitors on the race track. When you get out there on the race track, you almost want to beat your teammate, just as much as you want to beat anyone else.”
Peters proved last year that the RHR team can get it done, finishing fifth in points with a win on the season. Knowing the strength of the organization and experience under his belt, Kennedy feels that he is ready to make his first trip to victory lane in 2015, and possibly contend for the championship.
“I think we need to come out and run strong this year – top-10s, top-fives,” Kennedy commented. “I think last year was a big learning curve for me and to be coming into the year with Red Horse and experience behind me, I have high expectations for myself this year and I want to get it done. I want to do the best that I possibly can and I am determined to do that.”
The 2015 season is not that far away, with the first race scheduled for next month at Daytona International Speedway. No doubt for any driver to win the first race of the year is huge. Though for Kennedy, it’d be even bigger as he grew up around Daytona, working odd jobs around the race track as a kid.
“Every part of Daytona is special to me,” he commented. “It’s kind of like my backyard; I know it like the back of my hand, so to speak. I love the place, everything about the race track. I’ve worked odd jobs around the race track; it gives me a lot of appreciation for everything that everybody does around there. To be able to actually take a race truck around there with 31 other trucks, it’s really special to me.”
Kennedy had a solid debut last year at Daytona, sitting on the pole and leading 52 laps en route to finishing 15th.
“I honestly can’t wait to get to Daytona and get this off-season over with so we can get back into the swing of things,” Kennedy added. “I’m the worst guy when it comes off-seasons in sitting around and waiting.”
Daytona was a great start to a great season as Kennedy was able to post seven top-10 finishes, highlighted by a career-best third place finish at Martinsville Speedway.
“Last year was a lot of opportunities and a lot of experiences, and a lot to learn,” Kennedy commented. “A lot of tracks that I haven’t been to before and experienced. The introduction to the trucks, for me, was big in learning how aerodynamic they are around other tracks, and how they behave in the draft, by themselves and next to other tracks – that was a big learning curve for me. Really, going back to last year, seeing all those tracks for the first time; 75 per cent of the schedule, I had never been to those tracks or experienced. So hopefully that experience pays off this year.”
Beyond Daytona, the 23-year-old is excited to get to Gateway, Phoenix, Texas, Atlanta – among other tracks over the course of the schedule.
The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series boosts one of the most unique schedules, with the races spread out near the beginning of the year so that way the teams can start off easily.
“I think the schedule is great, to be honest,” Kennedy commented. “It’s great that we’ll be able to kick it off at Daytona and get back it the swing of things. Then we have a little bit of a break, and I think that’s good for the teams. It allows everybody to get back into the swing of things and start really preparing for getting into the meat of season.”
Once into the meat of the season, things certainly get interesting with a variety of intermediate and short tracks for the drivers to tackle, along with a road course and dirt track thrown in the mix.
“I think it’s a great schedule,” Kennedy continued. “I think it’s great that we start at Daytona and finish at Homestead – just like the Sprint Cup Series does. I think it’s great to be at companion events because I think you can gain so much experience by going over to the next garage over, asking questions and getting involved as much as you can. I like the schedule the way it is now.”
In learning the aerodynamics of the trucks, Kennedy emphasized learning how to get a good restart to put himself in a good position for the long haul, as restarts have become more crucial over the years with the competition getting that much closer.
“You watch a race on TV or at the track, you see them barreling into a corner three, four-wide. Figuring out how that works is kind of a big task that I tried to focus on,” Kennedy explained. “Each restart is different, but so much of those first two laps after a restart dictate where you’re going to be running in the long run. A lot of these truck races that we do at these tracks have long runs, so those first two or three laps are so crucial so that you can find a position in the pack so when all the trucks spread out, you’re comfortable where you are.”
Certanly moving forward in his career, Kennedy is hoping to have a lot of success this year, and perhaps add another cool racing memory. Beyond leading laps at Daytona, Kennedy cited his win at Bowman-Grey Stadium in the K&N Pro Series in 2013 as being a memory that he will never forget.
“That was one of my biggest accomplishments,” he expressed. “Growing up, I used to watch The Madhouse on History television and thinking about how crazy that place was. I went there the first year and finished third. I went there the second year, finished eighth. The third year, we finally got a win. To win in front of 16-17,000 people and just know the history of that place with my family behind it – there’s so many different history and stories that come around that race track.
“To get a win there, it means a lot and probably be a moment that I’ll remember forever. The trophy from there is one of my prized processions for sure.”