Huge wreck comes near midpoint of NextEra Energy Resources 250 Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The bad luck associated with Friday the 13th had a one-week hangover in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series as a massive 12-truck stack-up thinned the 32-truck field in Friday night's season opener at Daytona International Speedway. Starting off the year on an up note wasn't in the cards for the unfortunate dozen, all of whom had their high hopes derailed near the halfway point of the NextEra Energy Resources 250. It was the biggest melee in the 100-lap, 250-mile opener, continuing the trend of especially tense, close quarters racing across all three NASCAR national series at Daytona's Speedweeks. "It's just a product of the racing," said Timothy Peters, fifth in last year's final truck standings but crashed out in 24th place in the 2015 opener. "It's great racing. Just hope there'll be enough trucks on the race track to finish." The truck-swallowing conflagration began shortly after Ben Kennedy's No. 11 truck slowed with damage near the top lane at the end of the backstretch. When the pack stormed past on Lap 49, congestion and a hair-trigger reaction bottled up the single-file scrap among Austin Theriault, Scott Lagasse Jr. and James Buescher, snaring bystanders behind them. A blown tire on Kennedy's truck, battered from an earlier altercation, forced the second-year driver to limp his Red Horse Racing around the 2.5-mile track. With the pack bearing down on him, he was unable to steer to safety on the apron. "It was either wreck it into the pack or wreck it into the wall, and we had pretty much wreck it into the wall at that point," Kennedy said. "Stinks for these guys, it stinks for (sponsor) Local Motors and that's not the best way to start the season, but we'll get them from here." By the time the sparks and smoke died down in Turn 3, Buescher, Peters, Kennedy , John Wes Townley, Ryan Ellis, Spencer Gallagher, Chris Fontaine, Cameron Hayley, Daniel Hemric and Todd Peck had piled in. Theriault and Johnny Sauter also were involved but to a lesser degree. Though several drivers involved made the mandatory trip to the infield care center, all emerged unhurt but with stories of scary views to share. "It was funny. I saw kind of the obvious -- cars starting to collide -- and then I saw my hood all over my windshield for the rest of it," said Gallagher, who started 10th. "Sadly, there wasn't much to be done. … This is but a setback. We know what we are and what we've got for this year." Said Hayley, a product of the NASCAR Next program: "I was following the 05 of John Wes Townley and all I saw was smoke. Just white smoke and I tried to go to the outside and just couldn't get there and next thing you know my hood is crunched and I was sideways." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Kennedy makes Red Horse Racing debut in NextEra Energy Resources 250
Pit boss heads to Red Horse Racing to run the No. 11 team Red Horse Racing announced Friday afternoon that Scott Zipadelli will be crew chief for the No. 11 Toyota to be driven by Ben Kennedy next season in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series. Since 2007, Zipadelli has had a recurring role as a crew chief in what is now the NASCAR XFINITY Series. The Red Horse job will mark his first venture into the truck circuit. "Red Horse Racing is a well-respected organization that has had a lot of success in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, and I am very excited to be a part of it," Zipadelli said in a release provided by the Tom DeLoach-owned team. " Ben ( Kennedy ) is a talented driver and I have high expectations for him and the No. 11 team. He had an outstanding rookie season, and our goal this year is to win races and put ourselves in position to contend for the 2015 championship." Zipadelli has posted three XFINITY Series wins in his career -- two last season with Kyle Larson at the wheel, and one with Boris Said on the Montreal road course in 2010. His brother, Greg, is a 34-time winner as a crew chief in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and is currently the vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing . Last month, Red Horse announced that Kennedy -- the Sunoco Rookie of the Year in the NCWTS in 2014 -- would join its driver lineup and that the field of crew chief candidates had been whittled to a short list. The hiring of Zipadelli fills the lone vacancy in its driver-crew chief pairings for 2015. "Scott Zipadelli has great experience on top of the pit box and brings a lot to the program," Kennedy said in the team's release. "I am really looking forward to working with him and can't wait to unload our No. 11 Toyota Tundra at Daytona in February." The 23-year-old Kennedy netted seven top-10 finishes for Turner Scott Motorsports in his rookie truck season, highlighted by having the number one starting spot for the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway . In making the switch, he'll take on the role of teammate to Timothy Peters and crew chief Marcus Richmond in the organization's No. 17 Toyota. The Camping World Truck Series' 23-race schedule opens Feb. 20 with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 (7:30 p.m., FOX Sports 1) at Daytona. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Red Horse Racing team owner, Tom DeLoach, introduces Ben Kennedy as the driver of the number 11 Toyota for the 2015 NCWTS season. Timothy Peters also comments on his new teammate.
Young challengers exist, but can they match veteran's consistency? Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series boasts a thriving community of talented young drivers ready for the chance to make their names known. But for the last two years, an unflappable veteran has made the next wave of talent wait its turn. Matt Crafton takes the first steps toward a championship three-peat Friday night at Daytona International Speedway, kicking off the 23-race schedule with the NextEra Energy Resources 250 (7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1). The 38-year-old driver had to wait until his 13th season to wear the series crown; now he has two in a two-year span. In 2013, Crafton virtually clinched the title with one race remaining. Last year, the points battle was a much closer contest, but the California native said his laid-back approach minimized any late-season pressure. "Two was actually a lot easier to be totally honest," Crafton said. "The points gap was closer, but for me personally and internally and in my head, definitely two was a lot easier. Three, I'm just going to go with the same mindset I did for two -- just go out here and race and have fun. I get paid to do what I love to do, so not put any pressure on yourself and just go out there and try to lead laps and win races." No surprise, ThorSport Racing left the core of his No. 88 Toyota team unchanged heading into 2015. But while the organization has stayed the course, the series' competition environment has changed. Gone from the Camping World Truck Series are 2014 runner-up Ryan Blaney, as well as third-place Darrell Wallace Jr., a four-time winner on the circuit last year. Fourth-place Johnny Sauter, his ThorSport teammate, and veteran fifth-place finisher Timothy Peters return for 2015, but several young drivers -- Erik Jones, Tyler Reddick and Ben Kennedy among them -- aim to assume the mantle of title contenders. It's a path that has been blazed already by reigning NASCAR XFINITY Series champion Chase Elliott, who clinched his first national series title at age 18. Reddick, ready for a full season in Brad Keselowski Racing's No. 19 Ford, says the Truck Series should be no different. "I feel like a lot of young drivers feel like we can challenge the veterans in any series. … Just look at Elliott and Blaney," said Reddick, 19. "I feel like the younger guys have a lot of confidence right now." Confidence, though, hasn't necessarily translated to consistency, which has become Crafton's calling card through his championship campaigns. "Something that Crafton has really figured out with the trucks is, he may not be lightning-fast, but over the long run, he is probably the most consistent guy out there," said Kennedy , the series' Sunoco Rookie of the Year last season. "He can run the same lap time over and over and over again. Once he gets on a long run, that's where he kind of prevails. A lot of these guys will just go out there and burn their tires off, and five or 10 laps later will start falling back a little bit." Besides Crafton's performance over the long haul, the organization's chemistry has made the bright yellow No. 88 the team to beat the last two seasons. Carl "Junior" Joiner returns as the team's crew chief, continuing a combination with friendship ties that run deeper than a working relationship. Any other changes in the ThorSport camp, Crafton said, amount to mere fine-tuning for 2015. While the defending champion may have plenty of challengers lining up to stake their claim to the throne, any serious threat must pass the season-long test. "There's going to be some very fast trucks, without a doubt," Crafton said, "but it's one thing to be fast for one weekend or five weekends out of the year. Just trying to put it together throughout the whole 23 races that we run." MORE: READ: Latest NASCAR news PLAY: Sign up for Fantasy Live WATCH: Latest NASCAR video FOLLOW LIVE: Get RaceView today FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
NASCAR legend Dale Jarrett sits down with Camping World Truck Series rookie Ben Kennedy to grade his progress throughout his first full season.
Ben Kennedy slams hard into the wall on the front stretch at Talladega Superspeedway.
See where your favorite driver will pit Friday (7:30 p.m. ET, FS1) Play: NASCAR Fantasy Live Ty Dillon scored the Keystone Light Pole Award for the NextEra Energy Resources 250 (Friday, 7:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1) and as a result got the first choice for pit stalls. Dillon chose the pit stall closest to the pit road exit, which should give him a quick escape to get off pit road in the race. Dillon also has the advantage of not having a driver in front of him on pit road. However, he is not the only one to have that luxury. James Buescher (starting fifth), Erik Jones (starting seventh), Cameron Hayley (starting 14th), Ben Kennedy (starting sixth), Austin Theriault (starting fourth), Tyler Reddick (starting third) and Spencer Gallagher (starting 10th) also have openings in front of them on pit road. Travis Kvapil, who will start on the front row with Dillon, chose the pit stall closest to the pit road entrance. The season-opening race is the first of 23 on the schedule for the 2015 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series season. FULL SERIES COVERAGE • Latest news • Standings • Schedule
Chase Elliott and Ben Kennedy talk about winning the NNS and NCWTS Sunoco Rookie of the Year awards.
Ben Kennedy wins the Sunoco Rookie of the Year for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series.