Ben Kennedy Battles Handling and Fuel Mileage, Earns Top-15 In NCWTS Return to Gateway
In the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' (NCWTS) triumphant return to Gateway Motorsports Park, Ben Kennedy overcame early handling issues and appeared to be on his way to at least a top-five finish when the No. 31 Turner Scott Motorsports Chevrolet unexpectedly ran out of fuel, putting him two laps down late in the race. However, the No. 31 team battled back, by virtue of the wave around and free pass, returning to the lead lap and bringing home a 14th-place finish.
The No. 31 crew worked hard through three extended practice sessions, searching for speed in preparation for the Drivin' For Linemen 200. Taking the green flag from the 17th position, Kennedy found his Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) Silverado to be loose in and tight through the center, but worked his way up to 13th before the yellow flag waved on lap 16. Following the restart, a long green-flag run ensued, forcing the team to pit under green for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment on lap 64. Kennedy went a lap down when the yellow flag waved on lap 66 before green-flag pit stops had cycled through, but would benefit from the wave around and return to the lead lap. After restarting 13th, it was evident after a few laps that the adjustments made on pit road were effective, and as the track continued to cool after the sunset, the No. 31 picked up speed and multiple positions. Working his way up as high as eighth, Kennedy was consistently running laps faster than everyone else in the top 10. The TSM team was making plans for yet another green-flag pit stop on lap 118 when Kennedy unexpectedly came on the radio to report that he was out of fuel. Coasting to pit road, a lengthy pit stop to restart the truck resulted in Kennedy dropping to the 19th position, now two laps down. A caution flag six laps later allowed Kennedy to earn one of his laps back by taking the wave around, and on lap 147 the No. 31 earned the free pass, once again putting him on the same lap as the leaders. In the closing eight laps, Kennedy battled his way up to the 14th position before taking the checkered flag.
Ben Kennedy on Gateway Motorsports Park
"I'm really bummed. We were bad fast on that second long green-flag run, and if we'd been able to hold onto our spot and get the field bunched up with a restart, we would have had at least a top five, if not a win. It was really unexpected that we ran out of fuel; we were careful on the first pit stop to get our Turner Scott Motorsports truck full and everyone said they saw the fuel go into the overflow tube. I know [crew chief Michael] Shelton and the guys are going to go back and look into why we didn't get the fuel mileage we expected. It's such a disappointment to not finish as high as we were capable of running, but the guys never gave up. I'm glad we were able to get back onto the lead lap and fight until the end. We've got a week to regroup before Kentucky, and I'm looking forward to seeing what we can do there."
Kennedy is now eighth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings, just 15 points outside of the top five. The NCWTS takes a short break before returning to action in two weeks at Kentucky Speedway. The UNOH 225 will air live on Thursday, June 26 at 7:30 p.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1.
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