Kennedy and Waltrip reunited at Waltrip Racing
By Dave Rodman
SHERRILLS FORD, N.C. (Dec. 19, 2000) Bobby Kennedy, who as crew chief at Ultra Motorsports in the 2000 NASCAR Winston Cup season achieved results well below his car and driver's potential, has been reunited with driver Michael Waltrip.
Kennedy, 38, starts as the crew chief for Michael Waltrip Racing's NASCAR Busch Series Grand National Division No. 99 Aaron's Chevrolets on Wednesday, the veteran mechanic said Tuesday. He said the expansion of the NASCAR Winston Cup schedule and his family situation in part led to the move, along with a desire to win races with Waltrip, 37.
Kennedy informed team owner Jimmy Smith and newly announced driver Mike Wallace on Friday that he had decided to make a switch from the NWCS program. As of Tuesday afternoon, Kennedy's replacement had not been announced at Ultra.
"The chemistry between Michael and I was real good," Kennedy confirmed Tuesday of their two-year run in the No. 7 cars, first with Mattei Motorsports and then with Ultra after Smith bought-out the former owner. "But neither one of us was able to see the results because we had a lot of motor problems. We had 12 engine failures in two years and virtually every time we were running in the top-14. Twice we were leading races, so that part of our partnership was very good."
"A big part of coming here was the way the Winston Cup schedule had gotten," Kennedy said of the schedule that, with the addition of championship point events at Chicagoland Speedway and Kansas Speedway, now takes up 38 weekends. "My wife has just gotten pregnant and this was an opportunity for me to fulfill my family obligations.
"I have a 17-year-old son and because of racing I kind of missed him growing up. He was four and the next thing I knew he was 14. Professionally, this might not be the exactly right thing to do in terms of my career but personally for me this is the right avenue to take at this time."
Kennedy's wife Andrea is expecting their second child in July, which also is fine for the crew chief.
"That timing is excellent," Kennedy said with a laugh. "Looking at the schedule we only have one race in July."
Kennedy said Aaron's program "right now is 17 races next season." He said there had been some talk of doing "a little bit more with Ted Christopher," the 2000 NASCAR Weekly Racing Series New England Region champion who also has extensive NASCAR Touring Division experience in the northeast.
Waltrip ran 12 races in 2000 with two top-5 and four top-10 finishes. Christopher also ran three races in Waltrip's cars.
Waltrip had indicated earlier this season that his previous sponsor, Band-Aid, potentially might do some races with his team.
"I think we can be successful and win races," Kennedy said. "It didn't take me long to make the decision to make this move."
Kennedy said former NASCAR Busch Series owner/driver Ronnie Silver, who most recently had served as Waltrip's NBS crew chief, would continue to assist the team with his "knowledge and expertise" on weekends. Silver had been forced to cut down his involvement with Waltrip's team this season due to business obligations in the Asheville, N.C., area. Kennedy will supervise six full-time employees, he said. -nascar.com- kkk