Ben Kennedy had been out of the cockpit of a race car for five long months, but as he made his first NASCAR Xfinity Series start of the season, the 25-year-old driver for Richard Childress Racing certainly didn’t show any rust as he drove his way to a fourth-place finish at Talladega.
Making his first start in the Xfinity Series since Iowa last summer and first start at all since the end of the 2016 season, Kennedy started Saturday’s Sparks Energy 300 in fourth place and it didn’t take long for Kennedy to power his way into the lead, doing so at lap six and leading five laps.
Though he did not finish the first stage in the top-10, he was able to break into the top-10 for the second stage, ending lap 50 in 10th place.
Kennedy would hold steady in the top-10 to top-15 through the remainder of the race and when the final caution flew to set up the final 11 lap run to the finish, he worked his way up toward the lead over the final laps, bringing home his No. 2 Chevrolet unscathed in fourth place.
“We had a really fast Rheem Chevy. The guys worked really hard on it. On account of it being my first race back in Talladega, I got to knock the rust off a little bit. Really happy with the finish. I got to Joey there at the end and we were only as good as who was behind us and how close they were behind us when they were all single file there for a while. I even lost the pack just running wide open, so you know, it was a lot of fun and I got a lot out of it.”
“Just gives you a whole lot of confidence and momentum. It’s one of the first times I’ve had some good fortune here at Talladega. It’s rare, but I’ll take it.”
After kicking off his Xfinity schedule off with a bang, Kennedy will be back in the car for RCR in the American Ethanol E15 200 at Iowa Speedway, his second of eight starts with the team. Kennedy will also run 12 races in the Xfinity Series with GMS Racing this season.
“We’ve got a bunch of races this year. I got to go do a test at Charlotte the other day so that was pretty good. Just trying to get back in the car and get used to things again. These Xfinity cars drive so different than what I’m used to in the Trucks. That’s going to be a whole new learning curve.”