Alex Kennedy has top-10 run for R3 Motorsports cut short in Nationwide
debut at Road America
Was running ninth with 10 laps remaining when contact from behind spins him
CHINA GROVE, N.C. (June 20, 2010) -- Alex Kennedy came into his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut as an 18-year old, unknown from Aztec, N.M. After the 50-lap race on the 14-turn course of Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Saturday, it's safe to say people will remember who drove the No. 23 HelpTruckers.com Chevrolet of R3 Motorsports that day.
After posting the 10th-fastest time during the Final Practice on Friday, the recent high school graduate backed that up by qualifying 15th for Saturday's race. Those are pretty impressive stats for any driving making his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut.
Once the racing action got under way, Kennedy followed the pre-race plan set forth by crew chief Steve Plattenberger. Keep the car on the track and follow the pit-stop strategy laid out to get a good finish.
And, that's exactly what took place around the rolling hills, tight turns and winding way of Road America. He completed two caution pit stops to maintain a top-20 run and even broke into the top-15 for a few laps.
His first scare of the day occurred when he got caught up in a multi-car wreck through turn six on lap 31. As cars in front of him were spinning, Kennedy ducked between two cars and got off into the grass without making any major contact. Just as he was about to maneuver past, the front end slid into the pea gravel.
However, after knowing all the spinning and crashing was done, he was able to back the No. 23 Chevrolet out under its own power. Only minor damage was done to the left-front fender and after the R3 Motorsports team made minor repairs, Kennedy was topped off with enough fuel to go the distance. With the plan in motion, and a great car underneath him, the young driver was lined up 25th for a lap 34 restart after a 31-minute red flag.
When the caution flew again one lap later, Plattenberger called for Kennedy to remain out while some of the leaders pitted. This put the No. 23 Chevrolet in 12th place for the restart. From there, the team utilized another caution that put them ninth on the lap 38 restart.
While battling for position, Kennedy exited the Turn 11 kink and headed for Turn 12 on lap 40. Just as they were about to enter Turn 12, a car two back got into the No. 99, which was behind the No. 23, and made contact with Kennedy's right rear quarter panel. This sent him into a spin through 12 where he ended up sideways. The No. 40 of Mike Bliss had nowhere to go and t-boned the No. 23 on the driver's side.
With heavy damage to the door panel, Kennedy limped the car back to pit road. Car chief Mark Nelson determined the left front brake rotor was broken and the car went behind the pit wall.
Quick repairs by the crew sent their R3 Motorsports Chevrolet back out less than four laps later. Returning to action, Kennedy said the car was handling well through the turns. So, he finished out the race to earn an undeserved-28th place finish.
As the NASCAR Nationwide Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway next weekend, the No. 23 Chevrolet remains 26th in the Owner's Standings.
Alex Kennedy quotes: "What a weekend. This car was very fast, handled great and this R3 Motorsports team put a great car together for me to drive. I can't thank them enough for the work that went into getting this car ready.
"We were fast all around the track the whole weekend. During the race, the brakes held up great and we just got touched enough from behind there to spin us around in Turn 12. I hate that it happened, but I was glad we got to get back out and finish the race. It's not the finish we all wanted, or deserved, but at least we were running well with 10 laps left.
"It was pretty cool to be out there running nose-to-tail with someone like Carl Edwards in my first race. This whole weekend was a dream-come-true and I can't wait to drive this No. 23 car again."
-source: r3 motorsports