After taking the hosts of 'American Ninja Warrior' on a joyride around Daytona International Speedway, Ben Kennedy takes on the obstacle course.
BUY TICKETS: See the Daytona 500 live! WELCOME, N.C. -- Rheem, Menards and Richard Childress Racing (RCR) are committed to championing the NASCAR XFINITY Series (NXS) charge to be the series where "names are made," and each have long histories of supporting aspiring drivers at local short tracks to NASCAR's feeder series. Ben Kennedy will be the latest up-and-coming driver to be given that opportunity when he climbs into the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro for nine NXS races, the first of which will be at Talladega Superspeedway this spring. Kennedy has worked his way up through the NASCAR development ladder. In 2016, he competed full-time in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and secured his first NASCAR national touring series win at Bristol Motor Speedway in August. He also finished 10th in his NXS debut last season at Iowa Speedway , driving the No. 2 Ruud Chevrolet for RCR. "I am looking forward to working with Rheem, Menards and the No. 2 XFINITY Series team," said Kennedy . "I'm thrilled that well-respected brands like Rheem and Menards are willing to lend their support and provide the opportunity to prove what I can do. I may not have the experience that Cup Series drivers do, but I'm confident that I have what it takes to get to Victory Lane." RCR Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series drivers Austin Dillon and Paul Menard understand the need to develop young talent and continue growing the sport. Both made the decision to give up seat time in the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro to provide Kennedy the opportunity to gain valuable experience. "I cut my teeth in the XFINITY Series," said Dillon, 2013 NXS champion. "If it hadn't been for the success I experienced in both the Truck Series and the XFINITY Series, I wouldn't be driving in the Cup Series now. I understand how important it is to give younger drivers a chance to make a name for themselves and gain valuable experience. They can't prove themselves unless someone gives them a shot, and I'm glad that Rheem and Menards want to provide Ben that opportunity." "It is great that our partners recognize the value in developing young drivers," said Menard. "They are the future of NASCAR and need to be given chances to race in good equipment at the front of the field. This is a big opportunity for Ben , and I know he's going to make the most of it with Rheem and Menards on board. He has a lot of talent and this is his chance to show everyone what he's got." Dillon, Menard and Kennedy will share the No. 2 Chevrolet Camaro throughout the 2017 season. The XFINITY Series kicks off at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, Feb. 25 on FS1. A full series schedule can be found at NASCAR.com, and tickets can be purchased at NASCAR.com/tickets .
RELATED: Race results TALLADEGA, Ala. -- Ben Kennedy said he needed to "knock the rust off" his restrictor-plate prowess during Saturday's Sparks Energy 300 at Talladega Superspeedway. For the 25-year-old driver, that meant posting a career-best fourth-place result in only the second XFINITY Series start of his career. "Really happy with the finish," Kennedy said post-race. "Got to Joey (Logano) there at the end -- you're really only as good as whoever's behind us and how close they are behind us when they're all single file there for a while. We even lost the pack, just running wide open. So, it was a lot of fun and got a lot of out of it." Kennedy has a nearly-full plate this season, splitting 21 races between driving Richard Childress Racing's No. 2 Chevrolet (nine races) and with GMS Racing (12 races). His next turn behind the wheel comes up quickly at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 27 with GMS Racing. "I'm just looking to be competitive," Kennedy said. "My goal was, laying out the options over the offseason, to go be in something that we could go win races in, no matter what series." While Kennedy has three full-time Camping World Truck Series seasons (2014-2016) on his resume, Saturday's Talladega race was his first start in one of NASCAR's three major series this season. Waiting for his turn has been "long," he joked. "It kills you sitting on the sidelines watching Truck and XFINITY races," Kennedy said. "But at the same time in the back of my head, I knew good things were to come, with RCR cars and running GMS as well. I'm really looking forward to the season. It was tough -- I still stayed busy with some Legends stuff -- but it's good to be back at the race track for a reason." With the 300-miler at Talladega marking only the second XFINITY Series race of his career (his series debut was at Iowa in 2016), Kennedy does believe he'll experience some growing pains as he continues throughout his season. "Honestly, just trying to get back in the car and get used to things again," Kennedy said. "This XFINITY car drives so different from what I'm used to. That's going to be a whole new learning curve." That being said, a fourth-place at always-menacing Talladega doesn't hurt a driver's self-confidence behind the wheel moving forward. "This (finish) gives you a lot of confidence and momentum and it's just one of the first times I've had some good fortune here at Talladega," Kennedy said. "So, it's rare, but I'll take it." &amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/p&amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;
We knew they were athletes. Now we know they are ninjas, as well. Three NASCAR drivers will take part in NBC's wild and wildly popular obstacle course show "American Ninja Warrior" as part of Season 9, and one -- Richard Childress Racing driver and Daytona Beach, Florida, native Ben Kennedy -- will hit the course at the biggest stage in NASCAR, Daytona International Speedway. RELATED: 'American Ninja Warrior' comes to Daytona Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who ran the course in Indianapolis last year, returns to tackle the obstacles once more. He'll be joined by fellow Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driver Ryan Blaney, in addition to Kennedy . Kennedy's go will come this weekend in Daytona, although it will be shown on TV later this summer. Blaney and Stenhouse Jr. will appear at the show's Cleveland taping on May 8 and May 9. Kennedy's episode airs on June 26. Blaney and Stenhouse will be on the July 3 episode. Daytona is a true modern motorsports stadium and now will serve as a proving ground not only for race car drivers but also for athletes in city qualifying and city finals rounds for the show. Competitors who make it out of the finals course will move on to the national finals rounds in Las Vegas with a chance at a $1 million prize. "We're excited to serve as a host location for the filming of 'American Ninja Warrior' and add another new event to an already busy schedule," Daytona International Speedway President Chip Wile said. "We're thrilled to welcome the competitors to the world's only motorsports stadium and provide an electric atmosphere as individuals attempt to navigate these challenging obstacles. To succeed, they are going to need strength, speed and perseverance, very similar to what we see on the high banks of the Speedway." To sign up for free tickets to attend the Daytona event, click here. &lt;/p&gt;
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- GMS Racing announced Monday that 2016 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series championship challenger Ben Kennedy will run at least 12 NASCAR XFINITY Series races for the team this season, beginning with the May 27 Hisense 4K TV 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. This is in addition to the nine XFINITY Series races Kennedy already has lined up with Richard Childress Racing, where he will make his season debut at Talladega Superspeedway on May 6. Kennedy has one previous XFINITY Series start, finishing 10th at Iowa Speedway following a sixth-place qualifying effort in a Richard Childress Racing car last year. The additional races with GMS this season are something Kennedy has been working on for months. And it reunites him with the team where he won his first Truck Series race -- at Bristol Motor Speedway last year. "It's good to kind of have those relationships already set in stone and of course, great to be with GMS," Kennedy told NASCAR.com of the additional races with the team. "I enjoy being there. It's a good group of people, who mean well and work hard. And I'm confident we'll be fast. "It worked out great last year, knocking down a win at Bristol and making our way to the playoffs and almost making it to (the season finale at) Homestead. It's cool to be back with those guys. … I never really left, I guess." Kennedy said he could not be more ready to take his first green flag of the season next month and feels confident the additional races with GMS will be a big boost in his development. "The conversation to get me in the second car has been ongoing since the end of last season," Kennedy said. "Everyone that works at GMS is so dedicated to the team. There's a sense of family at the shop and at the track so I'm glad everything has finally lined up. "GMS has shown speed this year in both series and I know that they will give me the necessary tools to run up front." The team is equally as confident in Kennedy , who has 26 top-10 finishes in 73 Camping World Truck Series starts, including 10 top-five showings and the win at Bristol last summer in just his 10th start after moving to the GMS truck team midseason. Kennedy will be paired again with crew chief Jeff Stankiewicz, who guided him to a top-10 finish at Kansas Speedway in their only race together -- Kennedy's first with GMS in 2016. "We couldn't be more excited to have Ben fill our second car," said GMS Racing Director of Competition, Mike Beam. "This is a huge step for our XFINITY Series program and I look forward to watching Ben learn and grow as a driver through it." Kennedy , 25, has five top-five finishes on intermediate tracks such as Charlotte where he will be making his GMS season debut. He scored four top-five finishes with GMS last year and earned a bid to the Truck Series playoffs. "I'm very ready to go. It's been a long offseason for me, so it's great to know Talladega is around the corner and even better to know we’re going to Charlotte after and will have a pretty busy schedule," Kennedy said. "I'm looking forward to it. "It's been a bit bittersweet. I've had a lot of downtime and able to work on some of my other ventures, but at the same time I'm ready to get back in the car and get focused. It will be good having the next month to really prepare and hone in on my first couple of races."
NEWTON, Iowa -- Ben Kennedy wasted no time showing speed in a NASCAR XFINITY Series car. In his first track time in the series, Kennedy topped both practice sessions at 0.875-mile Iowa Speedway ahead of Sunday's American Ethanol E15 250 presented by Enogen (1:30 p.m. ET, FS1, MRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio). Even with that strong early showing, Kennedy is keeping his expectations in check. "I'd be pretty happy with a top-10 finish," Kennedy said on Saturday at Iowa Speedway . "I'm not trying to do anything crazy here. I'm going to give it 100 percent. I gave the guys 100 percent yesterday in practice. It's great to work with (crew chief) Danny Stockman and the entire Ruud team." Piloting the No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, Kennedy , who is the son of International Speedway Corporation CEO Lesa France Kennedy and the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., is driving the car that typically sees NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars Paul Menard and Austin Dillon in the cockpit. The No. 2 team currently ranks third in the XFINITY Series owner standings and has one win on the season (Dillon at Fontana). With stand-alone events beginning to pop up on the XFINITY schedule, Kennedy is one of four drivers who will fill in for Menard and Dillon on the No. 2 team over the coming months. Sam Hornish Jr . (Iowa and Kentucky) as well as Sprint Cup Series regulars AJ Allmendinger (Mid-Ohio) and Michael McDowell ( Road America ) are scheduled to be behind the wheel later this year. Every lap turned has been a learning experience for Kennedy . "We did a 20-lap run in the XFINITY car yesterday and I learned more than I've learned in a long time," Kennedy said. "Just in that 20-lap run about different things and tools that I can use inside the car and different tools that I can use during the race as far as line and momentum." Kennedy has been busy this weekend as he pulls double duty driving in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, wheeling the No. 33 GMS Racing Chevrolet in the Speediatrics 200 on Saturday. He finished seventh, but ran the majority of the race in the top five. Bouncing between two different types of NASCAR vehicles in one weekend can present an interesting set of circumstances, and Kennedy experienced that firsthand on Friday in the practice sessions. "You just got to attack the corner differently, different mindset," Kennedy said of the differences between driving both vehicles. "I did the XFINITY car and kind of got used to that pretty quick, I felt like. They just don't have more side force to lean on so you got to close up your entries, close up your exits, drive it a little bit straighter and then the bumps are a little bit different seeing how the package underneath is and anything. "You get in the truck and I messed up and I forgot how deep I drove in the truck when I went from XFINITY to the truck and I was a half a second off. I realized that I was driving 10 truck lengths deeper into the corner than I was in the XFINITY car." Challenges are nothing new for Kennedy . In the Camping World Truck Series, Kennedy has run a full schedule but has done so running three different trucks. He started the year in the No. 11 Red Horse Racing Toyota for three races before moving over the GMS Racing, where he has driven the Nos. 24 and 33 Chevrolets for the past five events. On top of that, he has constant change on his pit box with four different crew chiefs in the past six races. The Florida native sits eighth in the standings and owns the final spot in the inaugural eight-driver NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase. His best result of the year so far came last weekend at Texas with a fourth-place finish. "I think the first couple of races were just kind of getting our feet wet with learning how we work and how they work as well," Kennedy said of his move to GMS Racing. "Now I think we go out and attack this weekend and next weekend full force and run for wins. "We had a good run last weekend, and that's just a taste of what we can do over here."
Ben Kennedy has signed a multi-race deal to drive the No. 33 Chevrolet of GMS Racing in the Camping World Truck Series, the organization announced Monday. A minimum of 10 races have been secured, starting May 6 at Kansas Speedway with sponsorship from Weber. Kennedy joins a stable of full- and part-time drivers at GMS that includes Johnny Sauter , Spencer Gallagher , Grant Enfinger and Kaz Grala. "I am very excited to join GMS Racing for the remainder of the 2016 season," Kennedy said in a team release. "I have watched the organization grow into a powerhouse team over the last year. All of their teams show up to the track each weekend with fast Chevrolets and I have total confidence that GMS will provide me with a solid truck each weekend. It's a great privilege to join Johnny (Sauter), Spencer (Gallagher), Kaz (Grala) and Grant (Enfinger) in the driver lineup. I am looking forward to the accomplishments we will achieve together as a team." Jacob Companies will sponsor Kennedy's ride. Kennedy also picked up another sponsor in Weber, the grill manufacturer, for a select number of races beginning at Kansas Speedway . "I am honored and privileged to work with a company like Weber," Kennedy said in a team release. "Their products have been in our home as long as I can remember. So this partnership means a lot, and I have confidence that the entire GMS team is determined to make their entry into NASCAR successful. I look forward to much success this season and to winning on and off the track." Kennedy , 24, parted ways with Red Horse Racing earlier this month. In three Truck races with Red Horse this season, Kennedy recorded finishes of 23rd, 15th and 11th. He had joined that organization in 2015, one year after claiming Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the series. He landed four top-five finishes in 23 races last season, and the pole position at Atlanta Motor Speedway . Kennedy is the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr.
RELATED: See the Chase field " Best tracks, worst tracks for Chase field JOLIET, Ill. -- Ben Kennedy had to wait around to conduct post-race interviews for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Chase field after an early exit Friday night at Chicagoland Speedway . As he did, he nursed a bandaged right hand that included a splint on his middle finger, the result of a heavy late-race crash that left him 26th on the results sheet. Kennedy heads into next weekend's Chase opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway hoping to heal up for the seven-race run to the championship. The 24-year-old driver said he hoped his bruised hand wouldn't pose a problem at the demanding 1.058-mile track. "I hope not. Either way, I'm going to muscle through it," Kennedy said. "The biggest thing right now is rest and recovery and listening to the doctor's orders and I think we'll be fine next week. Make sure our safety stuff is ready to go, and I'm sure it will. We'll go out and hopefully be a contender in that race." Kennedy was nudged into a spin after a tightly contested challenge from GMS Racing teammate Johnny Sauter just under 50 laps from the end Friday night. Kennedy's No. 33 Chevrolet was then clipped by the ThorSport trucks driven by Ben Rhodes and Matt Crafton before it nosed into the Turn 2 retaining wall. Kennedy's hand was wrapped up after he emerged from the infield care center. He was scheduled for X-rays Saturday morning, but said he thought his injuries were no more serious than bruises or a sprain. "Hopefully, it's not anything worse than that," Kennedy said. "I don't know. I hit the wall and it just hit something, the wheel or something. I tried to brace myself and just didn't have enough time to get it where I needed to, to be safe for when I hit the wall. So, just nicked it a little bit." Kennedy clinched his postseason spot in August at Bristol Motor Speedway , and now starts with a clean slate for the opening three-race round of the series' inaugural Chase playoff. With a challenging early schedule that travels from New Hampshire to Las Vegas to Talladega, Kennedy said the approach may be equally intriguing. "You've got to try to minimize mistakes, but sometimes you're other people's fortune at the end of the day," Kennedy said. "I think tonight was a little taste of what we're going to try to bring to the Chase. We're going to keep working on it, try to get better and we'll see what happens. Hopefully just stay out of trouble and win one of these things." &amp;lt;/p&amp;gt;
Online automotive platform Wheelwell joins Ben Kennedy and GMS Racing as a 2016 primary sponsor for the No. 33 Chevrolet in the Camping World Truck Series, the team announced Tuesday. The new partner will make its debut on the No. 33 Truck this weekend in the Speediatrics 200 at Iowa Speedway . Based in San Francisco, California, Wheelwell offers automotive enthusiasts and industry professionals an online forum to research products, build their ideal models or improve car performance. "We are thrilled to partner with Ben and GMS Racing in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series," Wheelwell Chief Executive Officer Michael B. Gonzales said in a release. "NASCAR racing is at the pinnacle of automotive performance and Ben is a talented driver with a true passion for cars. Ben and GMS Racing make the perfect partners to represent Wheelwell's community of enthusiasts sharing their knowledge and favorite automotive products." This weekend's Truck Series event at Iowa will mark Kennedy's 58 th start in the Camping World Truck Series and fifth race with GMS Racing, which he joined in May. In his four races under the GMS Racing umbrella, Kennedy has recorded four straight top-15 finishes, including a season-best fourth-place result at Texas Motor Speedway . In the span of his four-year career in the Truck Series, the 24-year-old driver has seven top-fives, 18 top-10s and one pole position. "I am looking forward to introducing Wheelwell to millions of NASCAR fans and fellow car enthusiasts," Kennedy said. "Like many others in the racing community, I have a few ongoing vehicle projects and Wheelwell.com allows me to keep organized, seek help and learn from other members who are building, restoring or enhancing their vehicles." Race coverage for the Speediatrics 200 at Iowa Speedway begins Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET on FS1, MRN and Sirius XM NASCAR Radio.
Red Horse Racing announced Friday that the organization has parted ways with driver Ben Kennedy . Red Horse indicated in a statement that it had a three-race agreement with the 24-year-old Kennedy to open the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series this season. Kennedy recorded finishes of 23rd, 15th and 11th in the No. 11 Toyota. The Tom DeLoach-owned operation indicated in a statement that it plans to field two teams the rest of the season. Timothy Peters , who has been with the organization since 2009, will continue to wheel the No. 17 Toyota for the Mooresville, North Carolina-based team. "We wish Ben all the best in his career," DeLoach said in the team statement. "Red Horse Racing will continue to focus on pursuing the championship with Timothy Peters and the No. 17. We expect to field two teams in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and we will announce further plans as they are confirmed." Kennedy issued a statement on his website, BenKennedyRacing.com that read: "I wish Red Horse Racing and Timothy [Peters] the best for the 2016 season and beyond. I thank them for their support since 2015 as I have enjoyed competing with them. However, I'm interested in pursuing other racing opportunities in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and possibly the NASCAR XFINITY Series. I love NASCAR racing, and I'm eager to continue to compete, learn and improve." Kennedy joined the team in 2015, one year after claiming Sunoco Rookie of the Year honors in the series. He landed four top-five finishes in 23 races last season and earned his only pole position at Atlanta Motor Speedway . The Camping World Truck Series' next race is scheduled for May 6 at Kansas Speedway .