NASCAR halts race at Kentucky Speedway after truck hits catch fence

NASCAR was forced to end Thursday’s UNOH 225 Camping World Truck Series race five laps early after Ben Kennedy’s No. 11 truck lifted into the air and damaged the catch fence going into Turn 1.

With extensive damage to the fencing, two-time defending series champion Matt Crafton was declared the winner. 

Kennedy was able to walk from his heavily damaged truck and thanked NASCAR’s safety programs after being checked out in the track’s infield care center. 

"I’m fine," Kennedy told FOX Sports 1’s Hermie Sadler. "Thank the good Lord for keeping me safe, and everything NASCAR does to keep these trucks safe. Had this been a few years ago, I don’t think I would have got out of my truck under my own power like that."

The incident occcured when Kennedy’s truck made contact with the No. 92 of David Gilliland going into the first turn. As Kennedy’s truck spun around, John Wes Townley had nowhere to go and made contact with the left rear of Kennedy. The contact sent Kennedy’s truck into the air and into the catch fence. The truck broke one of the fence poles before sliding along the SAFER barrier and slamming back to the ground. 

"As soon as I heard clear (from the spotter), I wanted to get a good arc into the corner, so I headed up toward the wall and got hit in the right rear and then, I guess, the rest is history," Kennedy said. "I got up on the wall. I was on top of the wall for a while. You don’t really know what to expect being up there, and then falling down from the wall to the ground was a pretty big hit as well." 

Kennedy is the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France and the son of Lesa France Kennedy, chief executive officer and vice chairperson of the Board of Directors for International Speedway Corporation. 

This is the second week a NASCAR race vehicle has lifted into the air and damaged the catch fence. Austin Dillon’s No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was involved in a violent incident on the final lap of the Coke Zero 400 Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway in the early morning hours of Monday. 

Dillon, not entered in Thursday night’s race, was one of the first to talk with Kennedy after he walked from the infield care center.

With the XFINITY and Sprint Cup Series races still to come this weekend, NASCAR and track crews went to work almost immediately to make repairs to the damaged section of fencing.

Track president Mark Simendinger confirmed no debris from Kennedy’s truck made it into the stands, and said the fence should be ready to go for the rest of the weekend’s activites by morning. 

Track workers examine the damage done to the Kentucky Speedway catch fence after Ben Kennedy’s accident at the end of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race.