NASCAR driver Ben Kennedy will put on a different kind of suit this season
NASCAR fans looking to cheer Ben Kennedy on the track this season will be sorely disappointed. That’s because the 27-year-old will be wearing a business suit instead of a firesuit this year.
After seven years racing in NASCAR starting with the K&N Pro series in 2010 culminating with 17 races in the NASCAR Xfinity series last season with a turn in the Camping World Truck Series over four years in between, and the ownership of his own team in the NASCAR K&N Series, Kennedy is moving to the executive ranks this season.
Kennedy was named as the new General Manager of the Camping World Truck series recently. And while giving up a burgeoning racing career at a relatively young age may come as a surprise to some, to those who know his background, the move makes perfect sense.
Kennedy is the son of Lesa France-Kennedy, the chief executive officer of International Speedway Corporation; daughter of Bill France Jr., and granddaughter of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. That makes Ben Kennedy only a two generations removed from the man who started the sport.
“I had been thinking about it for a long time, and it was certainly a long decision for me,” Kennedy said Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. “But I was happy with what I’ve done in my career in the trucks as well as Xfinity, and had some opportunities to continue forward.”
The opportunity to continue forward in his career as an executive rather that a racer came down to one thing for Kennedy.
“I think more than anything,” he said. “I’m so passionate about this sport and so passionate about the health of the sport, and this opportunity kind of came along, and really weighing out all my options, it made the most sense for me now and for the long run, as well.”
I think it’s a good time for it,” he added. “And the Camping World Truck Series is the best place for it.”
Having his racing experience is important for the new GM. He made 73 starts in the Truck Series alone and scored a win at Bristol in 2016.
“I think more than anything, I can kind of bring my own perspective into the series,” Kennedy said. “I think being on both the driver side as well as the team owner side, I see both lenses, kind of on the competition side.”
As he begins his career in the executive ranks, thoughts turn to his future. After all, Kennedy is not yet 30, and a member of the founding family. Don’t look to Kennedy to find the answer to that question, at least for now.
“I think it’s hard to say for sure what the future really looks like,” Kennedy said. “I can tell you now, I’m solely focused on the trucks and really getting up to speed on everything competition wise with the NT1 motor and everything these guys have done on the cost saving side. I think that’s an element to it.”
“You know, as far as the future goes, I think it’s hard to really sit here and say this is what it looks like, but I can tell you I’m going to work as hard as I possibly can. As I mentioned, I care about the sport a lot, so hopefully I can bring value to it.”