Luck was not on Ben Kennedy's side as the 22-year-old made his first-career start at Kansas Speedway. After impressively running fifth and second in the weekend's two practice sessions, the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender felt poised to make a strong qualifying run for the SFP 250. Unfortunately, NASCAR's knockout style time trials did not go as planned. Making his warm-up lap in the first round, Kennedy's ALS Association Chevrolet got loose and made contact with the wall, causing enough damage to require going to a backup truck. Still, Kennedy and the No. 31 team felt confident, utilizing a truck which had seen victory lane many times, including once at Kansas Speedway.
Taking the green flag from the 30th position, the field had not even completed its first circuit around the D-shaped oval when a multi-truck wreck erupted in front of Kennedy. Narrowly missing the melee, Kennedy lined up 17th for the lap seven restart. When the third caution flag of the night waved on lap 35, Kennedy had advanced up to the 13th position and required only minor adjustments to continue his march to the front. However, during Kennedy's first pit stop, the No. 31 crew noticed a large hole in the nose of their Chevrolet Silverado, likely earned from debris in an earlier caution. When the yellow flag waved yet again on lap 51, Kennedy had advanced all the way up to the eighth position and crew chief Michael Shelton took the opportunity to call his driver down pit road to repair the damage to the nose. Moving Kennedy back to the 17th position for the green flag, the loss of track position would prove costly three laps later when another wreck broke out in front of the ALS Association Chevrolet. Kennedy missed the initial incident, but when another competitor was knocked into him, the young driver suffered heavy nose damage and was forced into the garage for repairs. The team emerged 24 laps later, only to have debris from another accident by his competitors cause damage to the radiator, putting Kennedy another 24 laps down while replacing it. Ultimately, Kennedy was able to return to the track and finish the race, crossing the finish line in the 20th position.
Ben Kennedy on Kansas Speedway:
"Wow, what a night. If there's a definition to 'bad luck,' my name is probably in the description tonight. We started out with the wreck in qualifying, which was such a shame because we had such a good truck. Then with the hole in the nose, the wreck, the radiator issue; we just couldn't catch a break. I'm just ready to get to Charlotte and get back in the fight. I can't thank my guys enough for sticking with me and fighting to the end so we could at least finish. We had such a good test in Charlotte, I think next week's race is going to be awesome."
Kennedy now sits eighth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Driver Point Standings, nine points outside of the top five. The NCWTS returns to action next week for another Friday race under the lights at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The North Carolina Education Lottery 200 airs at 8:30 p.m. EDT on May 16.