Ben Kennedy Earns Top-Five Finish in First Race at Martinsville Speedway
Following the conclusion of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East season, in which he competed full time in 2013, Ben Kennedy returned to Turner Scott Motorsports and the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) for the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway. After two practice sessions at the half-mile track, Kennedy qualified 14th for Saturday afternoon's race. Kennedy remained patient throughout the 200-lap event and worked his way towards the front. After avoiding late-race mayhem, Kennedy crossed the finish line in fourth, earning a top-five finish in just his fourth NCWTS start and his Martinsville Speedway debut.
After placing 19th and 20th in Friday's two practices, Kennedy prepared to qualify his No. 30 Chevrolet Silverado knowing that he had to earn his way into the Kroger 200 on speed. The 21-year-old did just that, laying down the 14th-quickest lap in Friday evening's qualifying session. After taking the green flag from the 14th position, Kennedy immediately went to work learning how best to get around the 0.526-mile short track.
Kennedy settled into the 16th position and was all quiet on the radio as he built experience throughout the race's first 25 laps. Kennedy was shuffled back to 20th after getting bumped by another competitor on lap 30, but kept his composure as he reported to crew chief Chris Carrier that his No. 30 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevy was loose on exit. As the laps continued to tick by, Kennedy's spotter Jimmy Kitchens coached the young driver on how to get the most out of his truck and stay out of trouble. Just after Kennedy went one lap down, the caution flag waved on lap 70. Kennedy reported that his truck was a little loose into and through the corners, but that he was really loose exiting the corners. After getting the free pass back onto the lead lap, Carrier called his driver to pit road for four tires, fuel and both chassis and air-pressure adjustments.
Kennedy restarted 18th on lap 77 and was scored in the 17th position when the caution flag waved again on lap 92. Kennedy radioed his Turner Scott Motorsports crew to say his Chevy was rotating better but that he was still a little free after he got off the brakes. After staying out on the track, Kennedy restarted in 16th. The young driver was in 17th when the yellow flag was displayed again a few laps later, but restarted 15th on lap 106.
After fluctuating between 14th and 16th throughout the next green-flag run, Kennedy was scored in 15th when the caution flag waved on lap 129. Carrier again called his driver to pit road for four tires, a can of fuel and a slight air-pressure adjustment. After a great pit stop by the No. 30 Turner Scott Motorsports crew, Kennedy restarted in the 13th position on lap 135. After two quick cautions, Kennedy again restarted 13th on lap 151. From there, the 21-year-old began to lay down solid lap times and pick off his competitors one-by-one, entering the top 10 for the first time on lap 167.
During the caution at lap 171, Carrier relayed to his driver that his lap times were as good as the leader. After Kennedy replied that his truck was good overall, Carrier had him remain on the track. Kennedy restarted in 10th on lap 176 and was in ninth when the yellow flag waved on lap 189. Kennedy was able to avoid trouble, as several competitors in front of him were involved in an accident, and was scored in fifth when the field went back to green. Kennedy immediately grabbed the fourth position and held it through the race's final laps, earning a top-five finish in his first start at Martinsville Speedway.
"I had a blast out there," commented Kennedy after the race. "I really have to thank Turner Scott Motorsports for this opportunity and Chris Carrier and the rest of my team for giving me such a great truck. After our final pit stop, we were really rolling out there and towards the end, we were one of the best trucks on the track. I also want to thank my spotter for helping me get around the track today; he is definitely one of the reasons we were able to survive all the cautions. I'm really proud of this fourth-place finish and thankful for everyone that helped us achieve it."