Watkins Glen: R3 Motorsports race report

Alex "Kid" Kennedy takes wild way to 16th place at Watkins Glen with R3 Motorsports Overcomes multi-car wreck, spin and pit road penalty for first top-20 finish WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 7, 2010) -- When the NASCAR Nationwide Series race ...

Alex "Kid" Kennedy takes wild way to 16th place at Watkins Glen with R3 Motorsports

Overcomes multi-car wreck, spin and pit road penalty for first top-20 finish

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (August 7, 2010) -- When the NASCAR Nationwide Series race started at the 11-turn road course of Watkins Glen International on Saturday afternoon, Alex "Kid" Kennedy was lined up 23rd in the No. 23 Chevrolet of R3 Motorsports.

When the checkered flag waved 82 laps later, the recent graduate of Aztec, N.M. earned a commendable 16th-place finish. This was just his third NNS start, with his next one schedule for Montreal later this month.

How the team got there is the real story, though.

Right from the start, Kennedy showed he had a capable Chevrolet from the R3 Motorsports stable. By the 11th lap, he cracked the top-20 and was running in 19th place. Green flag pit stops started early as contenders were hoping to utilize pit-stop strategy to achieve success.

With the green stops still cycling, crew chief Steve Plattenberger decided to use patience instead of pitting. When the caution came out on lap 19, Kennedy was running fourth on the scoring chart.

Pitting for fuel, four tires and air pressure adjustments lined the 18-year old Aztec, N.M. driver up in 21st for the lap-21 restart. One lap later is when the fate of the race change for him and the R3 Motorsports team.

A multi-car wreck busted out right in front of Kennedy as the field exited Turn 1 and headed for the Esses. After getting tagged from behind, he made slight contact with the car in front of him. He stopped sideways just as the wrecking stopped and was able to pull away under his own power.

He brought the car to pit road just as NASCAR put out the red flag. After repairing the left and right front fenders, the hood and right rear fender Kennedy returned to action on the lead lap. Or, so they thought.

NASCAR said that, when the car came down pit road and stopped in the No. 23 car's pit stall, they did so when the race was already under red. With the lead-lap cars stopped on the frontstretch right at the start/finish line, Kennedy had to go past some cars en route to the pit.

After the yellow was displayed, the crew leapt into action to make the repairs. They did it before the field came past them under caution. This would have lined them up 22nd on the lead lap for the restart. However, NASCAR said the No. 23 passed some of the lead lap cars on pit road when the red was first displayed.

So, they called Kennedy back to pit road and held him for one lap before returning to him action. When he did go back to green-flag racing, he was 28th and one of four cars one lap down when released on lap 26.

By lap 37, he was chasing down the Lucky Dog car and running top-15 lap times. On lap 48, Kennedy looped the No. 23 around doing a 360-degree spin in Turn 1, got back in the gas and kept going losing only one spot in the process.

Another caution on lap 52 had him in 25th place as the second car one lap down. Lined up 23rd for the lap-56 restart, Kennedy launched past the other cars a lap down and was in place for the Lucky Dog.

And, when the caution came out on lap 63, Kennedy took advantage and went back on the lead lap. Utilizing a quickie caution, Kennedy pitted for tires, fuel and adjustment on lap 65, Kennedy had to line up at the tail end of the field for the restart.

Restarting 21st on lap 66, Kennedy put the pedal to the metal and started passing other leaders. Within two laps, he was 18th and by lap 72, he was in 17th place with 10 laps remaining. With two to go, he took advantage of another competitor's flat tire to finish in 16th place.

It was a wild and weird way to get to 16th place, but the R3 Motorsports team hung in there and persevered on the track and pit road. To top of their good day, the crew posted the 18th-best average time on pit road. That's two top-20 finishes in one day...not bad.

As a result of their combined efforts, R3 Motorsports moved up to 26th in the Owner's Points trailing 25th by 32 points and, with the 23rd and 24th place tied, they trail them by only 33 markers.

Alex Kennedy Quotes: "What a day. We had everything to deal with at Watkins Glen in this race. A multi-car wreck that could have been a lot worse, a spin on my own, a pit road penalty and we took advantage of the Lucky Dog to get back on the lead lap. Out of all that, we earned a pretty good finish. You always want better, but we'll take that after all we went through in this race.

"The car was really good in the beginning, but fell off a bit on the long runs. But, give credit to the R3 Motorsports team because they built a great car that made the drop off only slightly detectable.

"I can't say enough about the crew for the work they did after that wreck. They did a great job getting me back out there to compete after making those repairs after the red flag was lifted. Getting back on the lead lap was great because it gave me a chance to race again and pass for more positions. That's a pretty good finish after all we went through today at Watkins Glen."

-source: r2 motorsport

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Drivers Alex Kennedy