Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

NASCAR runs in family for UF grad, trucks driver Ben Kennedy

Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France, earned his first NASCAR truck series victory last week.

Getty Images

Ben Kennedy, the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France, earned his first NASCAR truck series victory last week.

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Ben Kennedy was never guaranteed a career as a NASCAR driver.

Yes, Kennedy has connections. He is the great-grandson of NASCAR founder Bill France, the nephew of NASCAR chairman Brian France and the son of Lesa France Kennedy, the CEO of International Speedway Corp.

But before Ben Kennedy could drive a NASCAR national series vehicle — a Chevy Silverado in the truck series — he had an educational obligation to fulfill.

"My family said, in order for me to keep racing and to stay involved in the competitive side of the sport, that I had to first get a college degree," Kennedy said. "So that's what I did. And it was the best four years of my life, without a doubt."

After earning a degree in sports management at Florida in 2014, Kennedy has made an impact in trucks, winning last week's UNOH 200 at Bristol (in his 63rd start) and clinching a spot in the series' inaugural Chase for the Championship. He'll go for two straight in today's Careers For Veterans 200 at Michigan International Speedway.

Kennedy, 24, wasn't entirely away from racing during his time in Gainesville. He kept his hand in the game by competing in NASCAR's K&N Pro Series East.

It wasn't always easy, knowing that other young drivers were racing full time and gaining valuable experience while Kennedy concentrated on his studies.

"It kind of runs in the back of your mind a little bit," Kennedy said. "You look back at it as anybody else who becomes successful: Would I rather be in their shoes? My answer was always no. I think I'm in the coolest position in life."

Kennedy, a Daytona Beach native, did odd jobs around Daytona International Speedway, the centerpiece of the corporation his mother runs, as he was growing up. He also has been an intern with NBC Sports Network.

Watching last week's victory back in Florida was his mom.

"We were glued to the TV," Lesa France Kennedy told the Florida Times Union. "It was the most nerve-racking thing. I was excited, to say the least."

Sprint Cup: Joey Logano earned the pole for Sunday's Pure Michigan 400, his third pole in 16 Cup races at Michigan International Speedway. The previous two times he got the pole, he won the race. His lap of 201.698 mph around the 2-mile track edged Jimmie Johnson (201.523).

Xfinity: Former IndyCar regular Alex Tagliani earned the pole for today's Road America 180 on the road course in Elkhart Lake, Wis., with a lap of 109.866 mph.

NASCAR runs in family for UF grad, trucks driver Ben Kennedy 08/26/16 [Last modified: Friday, August 26, 2016 9:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. It's not a game, but the names are all the same in this football family


    TAMPA — A coach yells across the field into a scrum of blue-and-white clad football bodies at Jefferson High: "Kim Mitchell! Kim Mitchell, come here!"

    These twins are not only identical, but they have almost identical names. Kim Mitchell III, left, and Kim Mitchell IV are  talented football players at Jefferson High with Division I-A college offers. Kim  III wears No. 22 and plays cornerback while Kim IV wears No. 11 and plays safety. (Scott Purks, Special to the Times)
  2. Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston (3) pumps his fist to the crowd after Tampa Bay's 29-7 victory over Chicago on Sunday, Sept. 17, 2017. The Bucs play at Minnesota at 1 p.m. Sunday. WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times

  3. Cannon Fodder podcast: Sorting through the Bucs' injuries


    Greg Auman sorts through the Bucs players sidelined with injury and illness in the latest edition of our Cannon Fodder podcast.

    Kwon Alexander left the Bucs' game against the Bears with a hamstring injury. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times]
  4. College football week 4: Tampa Bay Times staff predictions


    The Times' college football coverage team makes its picks for week 4 of the college football season:

    USF coach Charlie Strong and the Bulls face Temple in a 7:30 p.m. game Thursday at Raymond James Stadium. LOREN ELLIOTT   |   Times
  5. Young girl injured by 105 mph foul at Yankee Stadium renews call for more netting


    NEW YORK — A young girl at Yankee Stadium was injured by a 105 mph foul ball off the bat of Todd Frazier during Wednesday's game against Minnesota, leading some players to call for protective netting to be extended.

    Baseball fans reacts as a young girl is tended to before she is carried out of the seating area after being hit by a line drive in the fifth inning of a baseball game between the New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017, at Yankee Stadium in New York. [Associated Press]