Kennedy Finishes 11th in the Dark at Phoenix
Ben Kennedy's No. 31 Chevrolet Silverado was among the class of the field at Phoenix International Raceway, earning a top-five starting position and running third in the early portion of the Lucas Oil 150 following a delayed start due to power loss. However, a scoring issue on the lap 111 restart cost Kennedy precious track position, which ultimately could not be overcome when the 150-lap event was cut short as a result of a second power outage.
After laying down the fourth-fastest time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series' (NCWTS) final practice, Kennedy backed up the Heater.com Chevrolet's early speed by earning a third-place starting position for the penultimate race of the 2014 season. Following a delayed race start due to a power outage in the area, once competitors took the green flag, the field was unable to complete a single lap before a major wreck brought out the yellow flag, requiring extensive cleanup and clouding the track with speedy-dry. After green-flag racing finally resumed on lap 19, three more cautions followed in quick succession, with Kennedy defending the third spot for a majority of the opening laps. Going green on lap 46, the longest green-flag run of the night ensued as the track stayed green for 54 consecutive laps. On lap 81, Kennedy was running in the fourth position with more than a five-second lead over the fifth-place truck. Coming to the end of his fuel run, Kennedy brought his Chevy truck down pit road for four tires, fuel and an air-pressure adjustment. The Rookie of the Year contender returned to the track in the 15th spot as green-flag pit stops cycled through. Nearly the entire field had completed pit stops when the caution flag waved on lap 101, but with a handful of trucks remaining out, Kennedy was the first truck one lap down in the seventh spot. The No. 31 truck was awarded the free pass and Kennedy lined up in that position prior to the lap 111 restart, however, a mistake made by race control allowed trucks receiving the wave around to restart ahead of Kennedy, and he was forced to drop back to the 11th position before the green flag waved. Although 39 scheduled laps remained, the field received only 15 more laps of racing before a second power outage shrouded the racetrack in darkness once again. Having just pitted for four fresh tires on lap 114 to make a strong run to the finish, Kennedy was mired back in the 11th position. Unfortunately, racing did not resume after the second blackout, forcing Kennedy to settle for a finish outside the top 10.
Ben Kennedy on Phoenix International Raceway:
"This may have been the most bizarre race I've ever competed in; I've never been involved in a race with a blackout before. Our Heater.com Chevy was so good tonight, I have to thank [crew chief] Doug George and everyone at Turner Scott Motorsports for all the hard work they did. There were some things that I didn't agree with during this race, and it ultimately cost us a lot of points, both in the standings and the Rookie of the Year points. It's such a shame because we clearly had a top-five truck. I guess it is what it is. We have one more chance to make it to Victory Lane before the year is up, and I'm going to drive my tail off in Homestead to get there."