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NASCAR: Kenzie Ruston on the rise after Iowa runner-up

Aug 7, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

Photo: NASCAR Photo: NASCAR

We meant to hit this last week, but it was worth taking note of Ben Kennedy Racing driver Kenzie Ruston at last week’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series East race at Iowa Speedway. Ruston finished second, a career-best result and highest finish for a woman in series history.

“I feel like we still had the best car there at the end.” she said during a Wednesday teleconference. “We were chasing Brandon Jones down as fast as we could, just kind of ran out of laps. I got a bad restart that last restart, spun my tires a little bit, and let Cole Custer and Ben get away from me, and I had to chase everybody back down. But I just can’t thank my guys for working their tails off this weekend and giving me a good car.”

Like most of the NASCAR community, Ruston is en route to Watkins Glen International this weekend, where K&N will race alongside the NASCAR Sprint Cup and Nationwide ranks. Ruston is yet to test on the track but still feels fortunate for the opportunity.

“I always loved the road course races last year, and it’s really cool that we get to go to one of the road courses that the Cup guys run on every year,” she said. “Last year we didn’t really go to road courses that the Cup guys raced on, so it didn’t really, I guess, transfer all the information, so it’s really cool that we get to go and experience some of that stuff that the Cup guys do, and I’m really excited to have Bully Hill Vineyards on the car this weekend. Just a really cool opportunity. I know they’ve been involved in racing for a long time, it’s just really cool for them to be back involved in the sport, and should be a really good weekend.”

Ruston expressed thanks to Kennedy for his support this season.

“I learned a lot from him last year even being in the NASCAR Next program becoming friends with him, and he’s just so welcoming,” she said. “Any time you go ask him a question, he’s the nicest guy to ask a question to and he always gives you an honest answer that you’re asking for. He’s definitely been a huge, huge stepping-stone in my career, especially in the K&N Pro Series.”

Keep an eye on her going forward, as one of the rising stars in NASCAR’s developmental ranks.

Here’s her livery this weekend:

  1. wethog66 - Aug 7, 2014 at 12:03 PM

    Holy crap. A woman NASCAR driver in the news because of a top 3 finish. Refreshing.

    As a Father to two Daughters I not only have no problem with woman in NASCAR, but I applaud it. But the press that follows Danica Patrick around from race to race is completely over the top until she actually competes for a top 5 position at the end of a race, never mind being in contention for a win.

    Its so over the top that ESPN mentions Patrick’s finishing position no matter where she finishes along with the top 3 or 5 finishers. ESPN used to do that back in the day, but they did it for Dick Trickle. I can only assume ESPN did that for laughs, I know I laughed whenever I say Dick Trickle’s finishing position along with the top 5. Is Danica Patrick the next Dick Trickle? No comment…

  2. techmeister1 - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:20 PM

    The reason the media mentions Patrick’s finishing position is because she has a huge fan base that wants to follow her on-track results. In addition for those who don’t know she’s achieved more in CRASHCAR than any other woman before her.

    Knocking Patrick because she gets a lot of media coverage is just ignorant and wasted energy. Instead of appreciating her racing success and all the good she does for every race series that she is in, the inspiration and role model she is for young people, some folks always chose to be negative about her.

    • wethog66 - Aug 7, 2014 at 3:41 PM

      I see nothing wrong with being critical of a professional athlete, man or woman, for getting a large amount of media attention based solely on their looks. And that’s what we are talking about here. In Patrick’s 3rd Cup season she has an average finish threw 21 races of 25th. If she was in her early 20’s, and this was her 3rd year of total professional driving experience, having an average finish of 25th would not be a big deal, maybe even considered progress. But Patrick is in her early 30’s, is in her 10th year as a professional driver, and she has excellent equipment to drive threw Stewart/Haas. She should be consistently competing for Top 10 finishes, not averaging mid-20’s finishes.

      The results don’t justify the hype and I think the hype surrounding Patrick sends the wrong message to young girls like my two Daughters. It says that so long as you have average driving talent, but are very attractive and wear very little clothing in commercials and magazine spreads, people will pay attention.

  3. bigmattintheboot - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:58 PM

    She does have that P7 finish already this season and it was a well-earned effort. The days of hating on Danica I think are a bit dated now. That said, like anyone competing at the Cup level, push comes to shove you gotta start delivering sooner or later. Personally I’m looking forward to see how she does back in road course territory.

  4. bigmattintheboot - Aug 7, 2014 at 1:59 PM

    As for Kenzie, I wish her luck and hope she kicks ass there. Always nice seeing local sponsorships come to the table as well.

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