Kennedy Brings Home Impressive Third-Place Finish at Martinsville in 'Overtime'
Ben Kennedy posted an impressive third-place finish at Martinsville Speedway, bettering his career-best finish of fourth in his strong Martinsville debut last fall. After laying down the fifth and 15th-fastest lap times in the first and final practice sessions, respectively, Kennedy secured a sixth-place starting spot when the field was set per the NASCAR rulebook due to qualifying being cancelled for rain. With the main event postponed due to weather, Kennedy took the green flag on Sunday, quickly finding that his No. 31 ALS Association Chevrolet was loose on late entry. Crew chief Michael Shelton and the Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) crew worked diligently over the course of four pit stops, improving Kennedy's Silverado with a series of chassis adjustments. Despite losing several positions when another competitor made contact with him on lap 220, Kennedy quickly recovered, and the handling of his ALS Association machine was exactly where he needed it to be for the conclusion of the 250-lap event. With a carefully planned tire strategy, Kennedy was running in the top 10 with a dozen laps remaining and was poised to take advantage of the string of cautions that followed. Through three yellow flags and two attempts at a green/white/checkered finish, Kennedy narrowly avoided the melee that erupted in front of him and skillfully navigated his No. 31 Silverado around his competitors, scoring a much-earned third-place finish and Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors.
Ben Kennedy on Martinsville Speedway:
"We really had a great race today; we were spot on with this one. I was a little bit loose at the beginning of the day, but by the end of the race, we were exactly where we needed to be. [Crew chief Michael] Shelton and my entire Turner Scott Motorsports team built me a really good truck and they did a great job improving the handling throughout the race and working out a strategy with tires. Those final restarts were really cool; I got some strong starts and guys in front of me kept wrecking each other and, fortunately, we were able to stay out of the mayhem and gain a lot of spots. This was our first race with the ALS Association on board and it was really special to have Annette's name on the right-side door. She's a great friend to our family and her diagnosis with ALS is what makes this cause so close to my heart. I'm glad that we had such a strong race with her on board. I'm so pumped; I wish we didn't have this long break before Kansas, because I'm ready to get back on track and get those two spots we didn't get today."
Kennedy's career-best NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) finish moves the Daytona Beach native up to sixth in the series' Driver Point Standings, just 10 points out of the championship lead. The NCWTS goes on hiatus once again before returning to action on Friday, May 9 at Kansas Speedway.