Ben Kennedy was in the right place at the right time.
Having driven inside the top five late in the UNOH 200, Kennedy took the lead when William Byron got loose with 20 laps to go and never looked back. Holding off Brett Moffitt and Byron on a restart with seven laps to go, Kennedy scored his first career win in his 63rd career start. His previous best finish was third on four different occasions.
The 24-year-old Kennedy is the son of International Speedway Corp.’s Lesa France Kennedy and the great-grandson of NASCAR founder, Bill France Sr. He started the year on a three-race deal with Red Horse Racing before joining GMS Racing prior to the May 6 race at Kansas Speedway.
With their victory at Bristol, the No. 33 Jacob Companies team locked up a spot in the inaugural Truck Series Chase. There are three races remaining in the regular season.
“I can’t put it into words,” Kennedy told Fox Sports 1 in victory lane. “Someone asked me earlier today what it’s like coming to Bristol for your first time and to win here, this is so cool. I’m speechless. The guys gave me an awesome truck, everybody at GMS Racing, Jacob Companies.
“This is just so cool. These guys deserve it, they work so hard. We put this deal a couple months ago and I never would have imagined going into this race that we would be here today. I thought we were a top 15 truck or a top 10 truck, but to actually be here in victory lane means the world to me.”
Christopher Bell, who led a race-high 101 laps, finished seventh after spinning from the lead on Lap 144 while battling his teammate, Daniel Suarez. Suarez led 77 laps with Kyle Busch Motorsports drivers dominating the event to lead 179 of the race’s 200 laps.
Kennedy’s win didn’t go unnoticed on Twitter by some big names in NASCAR.
HOW KENNEDY WON: Kennedy drove past William Byron on Lap 181 and led the race’s final 20 laps.
WHO ELSE HAD A GOOD DAY: Brett Moffitt finished second in his third race driving the No. 11 for Red Horse Racing … Cole Custer rebounded from a Lap 54 spin to finish sixth … Caleb Holman ran a strong race in the No. 75 and earned his sixth career top-15 finish.
WHO HAD A BAD DAY: Tyler Reddick led just one lap after starting on the pole and finished 14th … ThorSport Racing had all four of its trucks find trouble and finish outside the top 20. Cameron Hayley finished 24th; Rico Abreu finished 26th; Ben Rhodes finished 30th; Matt Crafton finished 32nd … Daniel Suarez led 77 laps but blew a right-rear tire and finished 29th.
NOTABLE: Ben Kennedy became the sixth winner to lock up a postseason spot on the eight-driver Chase Grid. Three races remain to determine the final two spots.
QUOTE OF THE DAY: “Gosh, this is the coolest day in my life. I don’t know how to say it any other way.” — Ben Kennedy.
WHAT’S NEXT: The Camping World Truck Series returns to action on Aug. 27 at Michigan International Speedway with the Careers for Veterans 200.