With two top fives and an average finish of 3.5 at Martinsville Speedway, Ben Kennedy came to the Virginia track with his eyes on the prestigious grandfather clock. However, Kennedy battled the handling of his Heater.com Silverado early in the Kroger 200 before late-race contact caused damage to the No. 31 Chevrolet, costing precious track position at the end of the event and resulting in a 16th-place finish.
Taking the green flag from the 13th position, Kennedy broke into the top 10 on lap eight of the 200-lap event. Enduring three cautions in the first 47 laps of the race, Kennedy made his first visit to pit road on lap 48. Battling a truck that was loose on exit, crew chief Doug George called for four tires, fuel and major track-bar and wedge adjustments. Restarting from the 28th spot on lap 53 after many competitors opted not to pit, the 22-year-old fought his way back into the top 10 on lap 84. Kennedy's Chevy Silverado was handling better than it was on the first run, but he still had to "eggshell" the pedal on exit. A caution flag on lap 102 allowed the Heater.com team to make a second swing at their machine's handling, and they opted once again for four tires, fuel and chassis adjustments before sending their rookie driver back on the track in 11th. Kennedy exercised patience through a string of cautions, but on lap 138, Kennedy got caught in a chain reaction when the front of the field stacked up on a restart. Receiving damage to his right-front fender and the rear of his truck, Kennedy was forced to visit pit road twice under caution to ensure his tires were clear of any potential rubs and restart from the end of the longest line. Going green on lap 150, the yellow flag waved yet again two laps later for a hard two-truck crash which resulted in a red flag. Although he avoided a major incident, Kennedy once again received front-end damage as other competitors attempted to get around the melee. Scored in the 17th position on the lap 159 restart, Kennedy fought hard in the closing 41 laps but his damaged Chevy was ultimately only able to advance to the 16th spot before the checkered flag waved.
Ben Kennedy on Martinsville Speedway:
"Today was another long day for us at the track; luck really hasn't been on our side these last two weeks. My Heater.com team worked very hard all weekend, and I thought we were going to have a really good day when the green flag waved; we just struggled a little with our exit and got some damage in that string of cautions in the second half of the race. The good news is, the season isn't over yet. We've got three more races left and we plan to finish strong. We have a brand new truck for Texas, so I'm feeling really good about our chances there."
Kennedy remains eighth in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (NCWTS) Driver Point Standings and continues to lead the Sunoco Rookie of the Year rankings. The NCWTS heads to the Lone Star State to take on Texas Motor Speedway for the second time this season. The WinStar World Casino and Resort 350 will air live on Friday, October 31 at 8:30 p.m. EDT on FOX Sports 1.