Exclusive: Ben Kennedy talks about first Truck Series win
The newest first-time winner in a NASCAR Touring Series race is also a member of the sanctioning body's founding family.
Driving the No. 33 GMS Racing Chevrolet, 24-year-old Ben Kennedy won Wednesday night's UNOH 200 Camping World Truck Series race at Bristol Motor Speedway, scoring an upset victory at one of NASCAR's toughest tracks.
It was Kennedy's first Truck Series triumph in 63 starts and it made him eligible to compete for the series championship in its inaugural Chase season.
In an exclusive interview with FOXSports.com, Kennedy talked about his big victory at Bristol and what it means for him, his family and his GMS Racing team.
"I've dreamt about it for a long, long time. But for it to actually happen is super special," said Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder William Henry Getty France and the son of International Speedway Corp. CEO and NASCAR Vice Chairperson Lesa France Kennedy.
What was it like to win for the first time?
"The emotions - I think I was pretty calm for a while," said Kennedy. "Then it hit me a little bit. I had a little tinge of emotion coming to the start-finish line to take the checkered flag"
That made for a very special moment, as all first-time wins are.
"It's something you always think about," said Kennedy. "It's something you want to let soak in as long as you can. You don't really know when your next when your next win is going to be, so you want to make the most out of it."
With the Bristol win, Kennedy became the first member of the France family to win a NASCAR Touring Series race since the sanctioning body began operating in 1948.
"It means a lot, it really does," said Kennedy. "It's really cool to have my family's support. I got to talk to my mom on the phone in Victory Lane after the race, and to hear her emotion -- I think she was just as excited, if not more excited, than I was."
Of course, the big benefit of the victory -- aside from just being able to say he's a race-winner -- is that Kennedy will be one of eight drivers who will compete for a championship in the first Truck Series Chase, which will begin at New Hampshire next month.
"I think it's going to be pretty intense," said Kennedy. "There's a lot of guys, a lot of young guns in it. A lot of guys that are aggressive, too. It's going to be very exciting for people to sit back and watch the Truck Chase."
As for his own chances, Kennedy is bullish. Since move to GMS from Red Horse Racing earlier this season, he's been steadily improving, finishing fourth at Texas and seventh at both Iowa and Pocono prior to his big Bristol win.
"It's great to be in it (the Chase)," said Kennedy. "It gives us some comfort and we can start to focus on it a little bit more. The Chase is going to be intense. There's no doubt about it. We've got to execute and continue to execute like we've done the past couple of weeks. I think we can be there and hopefully get to Homestead."