Making his debut in the Lone Star State, Ben Kennedy and his Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team worked hard on the handling of the No. 31 Chevy Silverado in the early portion of the race, advancing from the 18th spot into the top 10. However, a long green-flag run in the second half of the event changed the game for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) field, ultimately resulting in a fuel-mileage race to the finish. Forced to make a green-flag pit stop for fuel in the closing laps with several of the leaders, Kennedy ultimately brought home a 14th-place finish in the WinStar World Casino & Resort 400.
Taking the green flag from the 18th position, Kennedy immediately radioed to crew chief Michael Shelton that his Turner Scott Motorsports Silverado was extremely loose. However, after the first few laps under green, the handling of his Chevrolet began to come to him, and he was soon considerably faster than many of the trucks ahead of him. Tracking down the front of the field, Kennedy had advanced into the 12th position by the time the first caution flag waved on lap 36. Kennedy reported that although he was initially very free, his truck's handling would come to him a few laps in, eventually becoming tight center off. Shelton called his driver down pit road and the TSM crew provided him with four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment. Emerging from the pits in eighth after a fast pit stop, Kennedy would once again face initial looseness, costing him valuable spots that he would have to recover over the course of the run. This pattern repeated until the fourth and final caution of the night waved on lap 105. With Kennedy scored in the eighth position after a four-tire pit stop with chassis adjustments, his Chevrolet was completely packed with Sunoco race fuel, but still a few laps short of the race's scheduled distance. As the final green-flag run played out, Kennedy had worked his TSM machine as high as fifth place, but with less than five laps remaining, Shelton called the No. 31 to pit road for a final splash of fuel under green. Although necessary to avoid the possibility of running out of fuel, the stop cost Kennedy nine positions, and the Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender crossed the finish line in 14th place.
Ben Kennedy on Texas Motor Speedway
"It's definitely rough to finish 14th after we were, for sure, a top-10 truck, but it beats where we would have wound up if we'd run out of fuel. Those are tough choices to make and you always want to gamble to get that win, but I know that [crew chief Michael] Shelton made the most responsible call. My team did a great job all night on pit road; we didn't get the win tonight, but I know it's coming soon. This team knows how to look at the big picture and do what it takes to win championships, and now it's time to look ahead to Gateway."
Kennedy is now seventh in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings, just six points outside of the top five. Kennedy's finish also earned him Sunoco Rookie of the Race honors for the third-consecutive week. The NCWTS returns to action next week at Gateway Motorsports Park. The Drivin' For Linemen 200 airs at 8:30 p.m. EDT on June 14.