Ben Kennedy overcame handling struggles early in the weekend to run a strong race at Iowa Speedway, earning a top-10 finish in his second start at the 0.875-mile track. After running 19th in both practice and qualifying, the Turner Scott Motorsports (TSM) team made adjustments under the first caution of the night that dramatically changed the handling of the No. 31 Heater.com Chevrolet Silverado, allowing Kennedy to work his way into the top 10 and never look back, crossing the finish line sixth in the American Ethanol 200.
After taking the green flag from the 19th position, Kennedy reported to crew chief Michael Shelton that the Heater.com Chevrolet was loose into Turn 1 and tight in the center of Turns 3 and 4. Although a competition caution was scheduled for lap 45, a spin on lap 40 brought out the yellow with Kennedy scored in 17th, allowing him to visit pit road for the team's first swing of adjustments. Shelton called for four tires, fuel and a track-bar adjustment and the TSM crew gained the Heater.com truck two positions on pit road. Restarting 15th on lap 46, Kennedy found that the team's adjustments were all he needed to become a contender for the win. By lap 62, Kennedy advanced to the eighth position, and by lap 84 he was consistently running the fastest laps on the track. When the race reached halfway, Kennedy was scored in the sixth spot and keyed his radio to report that his truck felt great. Kennedy brought the Heater.com Chevy down pit road for the final time on lap 127, receiving four tires, fuel and a small air-pressure adjustment. With enough fuel to make it until the end, Kennedy defended his position, crossing the finish line in the sixth spot to earn his sixth Sunoco Rookie of the Race award and his fifth top-10 finish of the season.
Ben Kennedy on Iowa Speedway
"Tonight really wound up being a great night. We didn't quite have the handling at the start of the race, but we nailed it on that first adjustment. We were really competitive as soon as we made that stop. I would have loved to get up into the top five, but I was just a little bit tight on the final run. The track was just changing a little bit at the very end and I didn't want to push it any harder because I didn't want to have a problem with the right-front tire. Overall, I'm really proud of the strides we made in tonight's race. I'm excited to have Heater.com on board and happy that we could kick it off with a sixth-place finish. We've had a little string of bad luck the last few races, so finishing sixth and running so strong was a huge boost. I can't wait to get to Eldora now."
Kennedy is sixth in the NCWTS Driver Point Standings, only six points outside of the top five. The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series next heads to Eldora Speedway for the only dirt race of the 2014 season. The 1-800-CARCASH Mudsummer Classic will air live on Wednesday, July 23 at 9:00 p.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1.